Are you prepared for these winter rental home issues?

In much of the country, including Minneapolis, temperatures can drop to below freezing for much of the winter. While well-built homes can typically withstand cold weather conditions, there are several winter-related problems owners of Minneapolis investment properties should be careful to avoid.

Here are seven of the top issues that face homes in cold weather climates to prevent during the winter:

1. Drafts bring cold temperatures inside

When tenants complain about their single-family homes being cold, investors could face a bigger problem on their hands if renters suddenly want to leave. Tenants deterred by the cold in their rental homes may cause loss of cash flow for investors if the situation causes them to move to another better-insulated home for the winter. Property managers should install weather stripping or caulking for windows and doors that experience drafts.

2. Leaks that cause moisture and mold

If there are parts of the home that are not well-insulated or covered from the wet and cold conditions of winter, owners could end up with excess moisture in the house. Pools of water or other drenched areas may appear in areas of the house that are not frequented like the basement or attic. This will likely exacerbate problems with moisture and even result in mold development in these spots. Inspect places in the home that could be susceptible to leaks and ensure no moisture remains.

3. Cracks in masonry or mortar

While investors were probably reassured by a home inspection that showed that there is no significant damage in the home before they bought it, winter can gradually destroy the masonry and stonework of these structures. As the temperature changes, snow that gets in the little cracks in stone or mortar melt and turn into water. The American Society of Home Inspectors warns that when the water freezes, those tiny cracks may expand and further cause further breakage. Close up these gaps using caulking or other sealants.

4. Water damage to the roof

With snow and ice potentially penetrating parts of rental homes, there is a huge risk for water damage. Since snow gathers on roofs, any loose or broken shingles allows moisture to enter from outside. When heat rises and the roof warms up, the snow will melt and water could cause damage to the roof and surrounding structures.

Another problem when snow or ice melts and refreezes is the hazard of ice dams. Ice dams may appear in the form of icicles near the roof. This eventually leads to leakage from the roof. Although property owners may not pay close attention to the cleanliness of their gutters, cleaning away any obstructions or debris may stop water damage.

5. Inefficient heaters

Colder temperatures call for turning up the heat. However, without regular HVAC furnace maintenance, issues can erupt in the winter months. According to ABC affiliate KSBW Monterey, residents can experience carbon monoxide poisoning due to damaged oil and gas furnaces. In addition, investment property owners could be faced with having to replace furnaces if worn-out parts aren’t replaced in time. The Washington Post recommends property owners inspect furnace or heat pump systems to determine whether they are functioning in great condition. Without ongoing maintenance, gas furnaces can become safety hazards and can end up costing investment property owners significant money in the long run.

6. Tree limbs falling

When nearby trees are weighed down by too much ice or snow, their branches become weak and break off, which, if they fall in the wrong place, can result in property damage. Before a major snowfall, property managers should consider trimming or removing trees that are close enough to pose a danger to surrounding homes. They should also inspect trees for any signs of weakening, or rot, indicating that they could be damaged and prone to breakage.

7. Plumbing system freezing

Even if property managers believe their plumbing systems are not susceptible to winter, there is still an ongoing risk that plumbing systems will freeze under frigid temperatures. Consider adding extra insulation for pipes that may be exposed to the elements. Additionally, be sure to drain out any water that may be remaining in the faucets and pipes located outside of the home to stop water from solidifying.

With the many hazards that cold weather can cause, investment property owners should be sure that they hire experienced property managers to take great care of their rental properties throughout the winter.

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