Mark Roemer image of Pre-Winter Maintenance Checklist

Pre-Winter Maintenance Checklist

With less than two weeks left in fall, it is time to prepare for Old Man Winter. That’s right, Jack Frost will be nipping at our noses in just a few weeks. As a landlord, I, Mark Roemer, know that this should be the number one priority for all homeowners. Whether you own your home or have rental properties, there are basic things that you need to do before winter sets in. If you didn’t know, the first day of winter is December 21st. That does not give us much time to prepare. However, with a little help from me, you will be sufficiently winterized in no time.

For all the landlords out there, can you imagine getting a call on Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve to unclog a chimney or deal with frozen pipes? If this is not your idea of spending the holiday season, take a look at my recommendations below and rest easy knowing you took care of it all ahead of time.

Check Your Heating System

While it is a little late to do this, it still needs to be done. As the saying goes, it is better late than never. The good news is you should not have much trouble summoning an HVAC contractor to take a look at your heating system. Unless you are knowledgeable of HVAC systems, you want to leave this job to the professionals. Not only are there several things that you could overlook, but you can also damage the system as well. It will end up costing you a lot more money to have the system fixed than it would have if you would have called them in the first place.

A few other things that you need to check are the expansion tank and water pressure if your units are heated with hot water. Not many homes are anymore, but you may own a property that has been protected by the Historical Society. Be sure to check with them before ordering any repairs or conducting maintenance. They will have the number of a person that will preserve the property as they wish it to be protected.

Clean the Fireplace and Chimney

It will be hard for Santa to come down the chimney if it is blocked. On a more serious note, your tenants will be unable to spend quality time with the family near the fire if it has not been cleaned properly. If your property has a fireplace or chimney, please take the time to make sure they are well taken care of. You will want to call a company to make sure that the fireplace and chimney are safe for use this winter. While they are there, they will make sure it is nice and clean for you.

According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), as many as 28% of home fires are caused by the chimney being clogged. The reason this happens is that there is sap (or pitch depending on the part of the country you live in) that attaches itself to the sides of the chimney. This burnt oil-like substance adheres to the walls and is called creosote (sometimes called soot for short). Over time it builds up and moves further down the walls of the chimney. When it gets close enough to the fire, it will rise to its flashpoint. It will superheat the stack and set the nearby wood on fire. So, make sure you take care of the chimney before you have to deal with smoke, fire, and water damage in your home or apartment.

Repair Steps and Inspect the Roof

Pretty much, you want to check all wood surfaces. If they have any water damage, you could be in for a terrible winter. The reason is that if there is water damage, you will likely have water freeze inside these cracks. Given enough time, they will damage the wood to the point it will structurally fail. Cracks get much worse in the winter due to the constant rise and fall of the temperature. At times, they may be exposed to sunlight or near enough to the house to receive sufficient heat to thaw. With other water seeping in, the day turns to night. The heat provided by the sun will not be present, and the heat from your house will not be sufficient. The water will freeze in the cracks, expanding them over time.

While there is not much that you can do to prevent such things from happening, you can prevent bad things from happening. Have an inspector check your home or apartment frequently to make sure that winter will not make your house or apartment unlivable.

Prevent Freezing Pipes

By far, the problem that happens most to a house during the winter is freezing pipes. This happens when your pipes are either exposed to the elements or insufficiently insulated. There are several things you can do to prevent this from happening.

First off, you could call a plumber to check over your pipes to ensure that everything is up to code. It is better to pay them to put in a little insulation rather than having to pay them to fix pipes in your home.

Another thing you can do is make sure you have the house at a temperature that will prevent this from happening. In addition to keeping the temperature up when you are home, you will want to make sure that it is up when you are gone. A lot of people drop the heat when they are not at home. It makes sense to save money on the heating bill when you are not at home to enjoy it. However, dropping the heat too much may end up costing you more in repairs than the bill would have required in the first place.


That about wraps it up. I, Mark Roemer, hope that you have found a couple of ideas to winterize your home ahead of our upcoming winter season. I wish you a happy and healthy holiday season.