Top tips for winter maintenance
If you have done preparatory work to your properties in the autumn months, you shouldn’t expect any emergency call-outs – but things rarely run smoothly, we've collated some tips to ensure no unexpected challenges crop up.
If last winter deﬁnes our future cold seasons then we’re in for more harsh temperatures. But some straightforward steps, such as bleeding radiators, avoiding drying clothes indoors and opening windows to curb condensation build-up, will keep your property in good shape over the winter months.
Research among more than 4,000 private landlords by online letting agent and NLA Recognised Supplier Upad ﬁnds that nearly half of landlords fail to carry out routine maintenance on their portfolio before bad weather sets in.
Winter is a time of celebration and family reunions, so if your tenants are planning on leaving your property empty for any length of time encourage them to leave the heating on at a low temperature. This should avoid frozen pipes, a common occurrence during a cold snap, even if the boiler has been well serviced or is brand new. While this may cost a marginally increase utility bills, it is signiﬁcantly less than the inconvenience and costs incurred if a pipe were to burst.
It might also be worth signing up to a yearly maintenance and servicing policy for all heating. This means the heating system will be regularly checked and any issues resolved. In addition, if an emergency occurs the tenant can feel safe in the knowledge that they can call an engineer who will deal with the issue quickly. And, reassuringly for the landlord, you won’t be hit with any additional costs for an emergency call-out.
HEATING AND LIGHTING
Now that your tenants are leaving the heating on a low temperature to avoid freezing pipes while they are away, make sure your radiators have been bled. Bleeding radiators is the process of releasing any trapped air inside the radiator; trapped air causes cold spots and reduces efficiency. You can bleed the radiators yourself or ask your tenants to do it, and it can vastly improve the efficiency of your entire heating system.
If tenants do plan to be away, having a lamp or two set on a timer in the evenings will help to avoid break-ins. Today, there are lots of different gadgets at affordable prices for timed lighting.
Condensation can be a big problem in winter if properties are not well ventilated. In the winter, people tend to spend longer periods at home with all the windows closed and the heating on – the perfect environment for condensation build-up. Left untreated, condensation can lead to mould growth that can damage your property. More seriously, it can also be harmful to tenants and lead to health issues, therefore it's vital to reduce humidity levels in a property.
Where possible, ask tenants to avoid drying clothes inside the house (or at least open a window) or, if space allows provide a dryer. Encourage tenants to use saucepan lids when cooking to reduce moisture build-up and ensure they always switch on the kitchen and bathroom extractor fans. On bright, wintery days encourage tenants to open windows for a short time to let the air ﬂow; this avoids nasty damp patches on the walls, particularly in high-humidity areas such as bathrooms and kitchens.
- Check pipes
- Keep the heating on low if tenants are away
- Bleed radiators
- Open windows regularly
- Provide timed lamp light switches to deter break-ins
Like this article? Sign up to our free mailing list and join 35,000 landlords who trust us to deliver licensing and legislation updates, thought provoking news pieces, and practical property advice straight to their inbox.