While some may argue that winter is a pretty exciting period because of the December holidays, one thing is clear- the weather is pretty hard on everyone and everything, including property. Going by data published by the Insurance Information Institute, winter comes second in property damage after hurricanes and tornadoes. In the U.S. alone, property owners continue to lose about $1.2 billion per year, owing to snow, ice and freezing temperatures, all of which are pretty rough on different property elements.

Something as simple as frozen pipes, for instance, could set you back thousands of dollars if mitigating measures are not implemented on time. According to The Hartford’s analysis of winter over five years, the average claim for damaged frozen pipes is $18,000. And that’s only if you’re lucky enough to have insurance.

If plumbing repair costs that much, imagine the full invoice if damage extends to the roof and possibly the wall- especially in cases of hail storms and collapsed trees.

Well, sadly, that only addresses repair costs. You stand to also lose rental income from tenants who decide to move out into more hospitable properties. So, in the end, it may not be such an exciting holiday after all.

To make matters worse, both Farmer’s Almanac and AccuWeather predict that the 2017-2018 winter will be extra awful, with above–average snowfall and chilling temperatures of negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit. We may witness extensive property damage, possibly more severe than yester winter seasons.

You can minimize damage and save yourself thousands of dollars by following these property maintenance tips:

Piping

piping-maintenancePiping has always been particularly susceptible to damage under low temperatures, because of the fact that water expands as it freezes. Pressure gradually builds up as water approaches its freezing point, and some pipes ultimately block and burst.

If your property is vacant, it’s best to block the flow of water from the mains, and subsequently drain all the pipes. Keeping them empty ensures that there is no water to freeze and passively sustain tension.

For occupied units, advise your tenants to always keep their heaters on, even when they leave their houses. The Insurance Information Institute recommends an optimum thermostat temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit to heat air, which in turn conventionally passes heat to the pipes.

Since heat may not ideally extend to external plumbing, insulate all the pipes you consider vulnerable. This will limit the amount of heat lost, and minimize the corresponding water freezing rate.

Roofing and Gutters

roof-maintenance-during-winterWith above average snowfall expected in December and January, there is bound to be excessive buildup on snow on roofs and gutters. This will not only block the flow of rainfall, but also exert extra weight on the roof, which could gradually damage shingles, and underlying trusses. Weak roofs with extra-long truss spans may even collapse after sustained pressure.

Unfortunately, there’s only one way to deal with this. Roof rakes with telescopic handles should be regularly used to push snow off the roof and gutters. While it may sound simple, this task requires experienced contractors with special hoisting equipment.

This maintenance procedure should be most frequent on roofs with the lowest pitches, especially in areas experiencing increased snowfall.

Landscaping

Landscaping is arguably the most commonly ignored property element when it comes to maintenance during winter. Many property owners, managers and residents only bother with this during summer and spring- because, why would you concern yourself with landscaping when it will be covered by snow?

Ironically, that’s precisely the reason why landscaping should concern you. As ice forms on the edges of bushes and limbs of trees, there could be resultant hazards that could threaten property and its occupants. Increased snow weight on the branches could break them, consequently sending them straight towards the house. Melting ice from the bushes on the other hand, could drip on the walkway, creating a slip and fall hazard.

To avoid such occurrences, all branches hanging over the property should be cut off before winter sets in. Additionally, snow buildup on bushes should be regularly cleared to minimize chances of a slip and fall.

Fireproofing

house-on-fire-during-winterBelieve it or not- winter is strangely the chief reason for house fires. Due to increased use of heaters during winter, more fire deaths occur in December to March, than in any of the other months of the year. And since social gatherings are particularly frequent during the holidays, a single fire could be more catastrophic compared to other periods.

With heaters bieng the prime causative agents, fireproof your properties by advising tenants to keep all flammable materials away from their heaters. Furniture, paper, curtains, and clothing should not be anywhere close to a heater.

In case of a fire, your tenants will definitely need smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. So install them accordingly, and have them checked and tested on a regular basis. Smoke alarm batteries for instance, should always be replaced once they start to chime.

The Golden Tip

property-management-systemWith such extensive property maintenance procedures, winter is evidently a very hectic period for property managers. But, fortunately, you can relieve yourself the stress by making your work easier through a property management system that comprehensively encompasses property maintenance.

Property Matrix, for instance, will have you enjoying your holiday thanks to a holistic property maintenance feature. It lets you remotely and conveniently coordinate maintenance projects by different vendors, respond to tenant requests, and release payments without stepping away from your vacation.