4 Easy Ways to Winterize Your Vacation Rental with Confidence

The Evolve Team
The Evolve Team
December 15, 2020

Snowy driveways, cozy firelit evenings, frost on the window panes, hot cocoa on the stove. 

To your guests, these ingredients make for a charming winter escape. But to unprepared vacation rental owners, they can translate to icy danger, a freezing-cold draft, and a seasonal headache brewing. 

Luckily, we’re here to make sure that isn’t you. So even though prepping your vacation rental for winter bookings might feel like a mind-boggling game of Jenga (where the heck do I start?), we tapped Nicole Guidi of Book by Owner to share the inside scoop on how to winterize a home with confidence. 

From seasonal cleaning tips to getting your rental’s amenities cold weather-ready, these are the key action items — along with a few bonus tips! — that’ll winterize your vacation home and help lock in those five-star guest experiences

1. Take Care of Seasonal Cleaning Tasks 

Clean living room with fireplace and a potted plant by the window

In an ideal world, your cleaning services are already operating like a well-oiled machine. (If they’re not, check out our comprehensive cleaning checklists for some easy and efficient standardization.) 

But what about the fireplace that’s gone unused for most of the year? Or those gutters that are now filled with autumn’s leaves? To winterize your home and prep for cold-weather guests, you’ll want to task your cleaning or maintenance team with the essential to-dos that may have been put on the backburner during warmer months: 

  • Clean gas fireplaces so the ignition switch and coupler start properly
  • Remove soot and residue buildup from wood-burning fireplaces flues 
  • Clean outdoor firepit and remove flammable materials like leaves and twigs
  • Clear gutters of leaves and debris 
  • Wash all the heavy comforters and blankets needed for chillier nights

Bonus Tip: Carpets should be cleaned every 12 to 18 months, so while not required, Guidi recommends using the season change as an opportunity to get it done. “It’s expensive, but it really keeps up your investment,” she says. Think of it this way: your guests will be spending more time cozied up inside your home, so might as well make things pristine! 

2. Stock Up on Cold-Weather Essentials

Stack of blankets, one of many cold-weather vacation rental essentials

You remember that nightmare we started laying out? The icy driveway, the piled snow, the it-looks-pretty-but-my-car-is-buried scenario? 

Many homeowners have experienced some version of that after forgetting to equip their maintenance teams (and guests!) with winter-specific supplies. So it’s important to take a pre-season inventory of what’s needed to combat the elements, then stockpile. Guidi says it’s common for homeowners to provide the following: 

  • Sturdy shovels
  • Heavy-duty brooms 
  • Ice melt or sand for walkways 
  • Wood for the fireplace
  • Car scrapers 
  • Extra batteries and lightbulbs
  • Extra blankets

Bonus Tip: To level up your guests’ experience, consider throwing in some cozy robes, hot chocolate supplies, and hand warmers for extra comfort. It’s the little touches that add to your home’s charm and stay top of mind when your guests leave five-star reviews about the experience!

3. Perform Winter Maintenance and Prep

Image of person testing water from a faucet

Before the chill sets in, hire certified professionals (or tap your property maintenance team where applicable) to verify proper functioning of important systems, inspect windows, and winterize amenities like above-ground and inground pools, hot tubs, and sprinkler systems. Here’s a step-by-step guide for how you and the pros can winterize your house. 

  • Inspect your HVAC system. A technician can make sure the heater is working properly first by running thermostat tests and tracking the system’s response. Then, they’ll turn off circuit breakers to check for loose electrical connections. Finally, they’ll clean air filters, eliminate dirt and debris, and inspect for drain clogs.   

  • Assess door and window frames. Look for areas where heat might escape or cold drafts might creep in. Identify and caulk any cracks on the interior and exterior, and confirm weather stripping is intact. 

  • Winterize the sprinkler system. Shut off your water and open the valves to drain the pipes. (Any water trapped inside can freeze over the winter months and create larger irrigation issues.) Wrap any above-ground piping and sprinkler heads in foam insulation to protect them long-term. 

  • Service your hot tub. To keep your hot tub running for winter guests, drain the water first. Remove and clean the filters before refilling. Invest in a well-insulated cover to moderate the water temperature and keep heat from escaping. As guests come and go, keep water levels consistent and have ice melt or sand on hand for the surrounding pathways.

  • Winterize your pool. Whether it’s an inground or above-ground pool, proper closure makes for a much less laborious opening come springtime. First, remove any pool toys, accessories, and ladders. Clean and skim the pool thoroughly to eliminate debris. Add winterizing chemicals — like an algaecide or pH-balancer — to avoid growths or contamination. (Pro tip: many pool companies offer curated winterizing kits that contain all the supplies you’ll need.) Finally, invest in a well-insulated pool cover. If you want to keep a heated pool open, you’ll need to have your pump running constantly to avoid freezing. 

Bonus Tip: Get a priority on-call service partner for the winter. “The toughest thing we run into is that when the heat goes out, it’s hard getting a contractor out in a timely manner to fix the issue,” Guidi says. And it goes beyond heating repairs. Whether it’s a guest check-in issue, snow removal, a drafty bedroom, or a hot tub snafu, it’s a good idea to have vetted service partners available to handle emergencies. (P.S. If you become an Evolve homeowner, we can help you find the perfect fit.)

4. Consider Upgrades That Boost Winter Efficiencies

Smart thermostat set to 63 degrees fahrenheit

It may seem like a splurge, but investing in “smart” technology can be really valuable if you’re managing your property remotely. Simplify the winterizing process, save money and energy, and handle issues without deploying your on-site contact with these tech improvements: 

  • Smart thermostats to program the heat so it warms the house to a comfortable temperature an hour before guests arrive
  • Smart water sensors to detect leaks in the house before a guest does
  • Smart locks to track visitors, allow keyless entry, and prevent break-ins

Make Winter Easy with Evolve

Guidi’s biggest rule of thumb for vacation rental homeowners: “If you can’t do it yourself, hire professionals to make sure all of these checks and balances get done.” 

Enter Evolve. Our fresh approach to vacation rental management makes year-round success feel like a summer breeze. We give you total marketing, booking, and customer support across popular websites like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com. We also connect you with trusted cleaning and support partners, so you can decide who to work with to create the Home Team of your dreams.

It’s our job to drive more guests to your property for maximum income, so you can focus on providing an incredible guest experience.

See if you qualify or call one of our Vacation Rental Advisors today at 877.881.7584.

Manage Your Vacation Rental the Easy Way

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