Winterizing Your Income Property
Even though we live in Florida, the Panhandle is over 300 miles north of the year-round tropical temps of places like Miami. That 300 miles drops the temperature enough to where we can and do see some freezing temperatures here between November and February, with the average year having approximately 12 days per year below freezing temps. Freezing temperatures have already plunged into the mid to low 30s this November and just last year showed us record lows of 23°F. This region was even blanketed by ice for a time in 2014 so it is always best to be prepared. With the temperatures dropping in our area, it is officially time to think winterization for your rental home.
A couple of areas we would like to remind you of during this time is the outdoor hose spigots and the sprinkler system for your rental home. Some properties may have other areas that should also be considered during these colder periods such as pool/spa pumps, but we are covering these two in particular as the majority of our rental properties have these. Please consider your particular property and if there is something else that needs consideration during this time please let us know so we can be sure to help properly prepare for it as well.
So why winterize? The benefits far outweigh the risk in this case…some quick and inexpensive actions now can help eliminate or greatly minimize your risks. For example, purchasing a hose spigot cover from a local hardware store for approximately $3.00 can be put on in seconds and can help insulate your outdoor faucets to protect against freezing temperatures. We can order these and have them shipped to your property if you do not already have some. Then, we can request that your tenants put them on, or we can send our handyman over to install. Outdoor faucets are particularly vulnerable, and if one of them should burst, you could end up with an emergency situation of having an uncontrollable leak when the temperature warms enough for the water to unfreeze, so installing these covers later in the fall is a very quick and in-expense solution. Sprinkler/Irrigation systems require a bit more. If you forget to winterize your sprinklers, you run the risk that water will freeze in the irrigation pump, valves, pipes and sprinkler heads. When water freezes it expands, causing parts of your system to burst & damage to or ruining your entire sprinkler system. Frozen pipes are one of the most costly and difficult repairs to make, given that the pipes are installed underground. Your lines should be drained or blown out using an air compressor before the temperatures drop below freezing.
Luckily here in the panhandle we don’t necessarily reach a hard freeze when the outdoor air dips below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, but at any temperature below the freezing point, some of the most critical components of a sprinkler system can be damaged. The cost typically ranges from $50-$125 depending on the system you have. As a general timeframe in this area, you should winterize your system at least a week before the first freeze is expected and plan on your system being winterized until February depending on the weather reports each year. Your grass should be fine without regular watering during that time, as the plants by nature are prepared for the dry, cool winter season*
Another preventative and property beautifying technique of protecting your irrigation pump is to install a ‘well box’ cover as most irrigation pumps and pipes are uncovered and exposed to the elements outside, presenting the biggest threat for freezing. Underground pipes are usually better insulated, but those that are exposed should be covered with insulation in freezing weather, along with any pumps and pump housing. Adding insulation to the walls of the box or around the pipes can help keep the area warmer, which reduces the risk of freezing.
Hardware stores sell different versions of these and some look like landscaping boulders, or decorative boxes and prices typically range between $150-$400 depending on the size of your unit and pipes, or our handymen can build you a customized insulated pump cover box. Some irrigation systems have a freeze sensor which will help the system shut off when temperatures fall below freezing or when it detects moisture. If you do have a freeze sensor, it should be checked as part of the winterization process.
Please consider your unique property setup and if you are providing lawn care/irrigation system maintenance as part of your rental. If so, please be sure that winterization is part of your maintenance plan for your property with the company you have contracted. If you have this as part of the tenant’s responsibility per your lease agreement, please know that we will send out a seasonal email suggesting that they do this themselves or seek a company to do so per their lease. If you would like any additional help or would like to discuss your property needs further with us, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help you in any way we can or refer you to a company that specializes in winterizing your property.
*these are our opinions and are based on our research and experience only, however, we are not experts in irrigation, landscaping or plumbing, so it is always suggested to always refer to a specialist in the industry with any specific questions or concerns you might have regarding your property.