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Getting Ready for Winter - Part One

By William May
Published: 10/13/03 Topics: Comments: 0

I am sorry to be the one to tell you, but it is now time to get your vacation rental home spruced up for Winter visitors. Those of you in the tropics are saying, "Hey" nothing changes here in winter. But if you look at my little checklist you'll find some things every vacation homeowner will want to think about.

Plus I'll provide a second list of fall reminders next week for those of you in colder climes. In the meantime, let's get started:

SMOKE DETECTORS. I'm surprised at how many people still don't have smoke detectors in their full time residences let alone in their vacation spots. Then I challenged myself and checked each of our houses. Sure enough, there was a brand new one with no detectors and some older homes that needed a few more.

So, take a moment to make sure you have detectors in your house in every necessary location. There are two types of detectors, those than run on batteries and those than are hard wired into an alarm system. Both are fine but if you need to install new units you probably already know they are very inexpensive and available at every hardware store and home center. Buy enough. Don't scrimp.

If your interested you can learn more about Smoke Detectors are (HowThingsWorks.com)HowThingsWorks.com. See: (howstuffworks.com/inside-smoke.htm)howstuffworks.com/inside-smoke.htm

CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS: Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and toxic gas. Any fuel burning appliance, vehicle, tool or other device has the potential to produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide gas. It can leak out of fuel fired furnaces (non-electric), gas water heaters, fireplaces, woodstoves, gas stoves charcoal grills and more.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that approximately 200 people per year are killed by accidental CO poisoning with an additional 5000 people injured. Carbon Monoxide Detectors are less common than Smoke Detectors but perhaps even more important. Like smoke detectors, these items also come in battery or plug in models. We prefer the later because they plug into an electrical outlet, use very little electricity and do not need new battery every now and then.

CHANGE BATTERIES: You've probably heard the old adage for daylight saving time, "Spring forward. Fall Back" as it relates to the resetting of your clocks. Many authorities also think this is the perfect time to replace the batteries in your smoke detector. You should test the batteries every month (by pushing on that pesky little button until it blares) but you should replace the batteries twice a year and now is a good time. Don"t wait until the battery fails and you hear the little chirping late one night when you really don"t want to get up and change the battery.

HINT: If you hesitate to buy detectors or change the batteries religiously, just think about the time and money you could expend having to pay damages or defend against a lawsuit for failing to take "reasonable" precautions for your guests.

FIRE EXTINGUISHERS: Did you know that Fire Extinguishers wear out and lose their charges? Most folks don't. By law extinguishers are required to carry a label or tag indicating when they were last charged and how long they are good for. If you bought cheapies at the hardware store you may have to buy new ones every so often. If you bought professional models there are companies that will come to the house and charge them on the spot. Or you can walk the canisters into a re-charging company.

WINDOW AND DOOR SEALS: As we have acquired more rentals I have had to embrace a simple and obvious fact - things break. And wear out. And even disappear. Window and Door seals save you money and make your home comfortable. Take the time now to inspect them and, if necessary, make repairs. Its better than getting a phone call from a guest who has your furnace blazing on high and is still "freezing." By the way, this hint is just as important for Air Conditioning so if you're in the tropics don't skip this reminder.

EMERGENCY SHUTOFFS: I'll bet you know where your water and electrical shutoff controls are. But I'll also bet your guests do not. Its bad news to have a pipe break but it is far worse if no one can turn off the water for a few minutes, a few hours or a few days. Yikes.

To minimize problems be sure to put up "notices" telling guests where the shutoffs are. We print our notices on a color printer, have them laminated at a copy center (A dollar or two each), Stuff them into nice 5" by 7" pictures frames and mount them right by the kitchen sink. It's the one place you can be sure your guests will be staring at.

If your water shut requires a "Key" (a long tool that reaches deep in the ground to reach the valve that is often below the frost line) make sure it is in a handy location and indicated on the Notice.

SUNDRIES: If you buy your own sundries, such as paper towels, toilet paper and coffee filters now is a good time to stock up. Its no fun carting boxes around in the dead of winter or up the snowy slope to your front door. And, as always, we recommend you buy in bulk at one of the outlet or wholesale stores.

DEEP CLEANING: I reminded everyone of the need for Deep Cleaning in a recent newsletter but this is a reminder to do it now (if you haven't already). Its tough to clean windows, carpets and do other big jobs in winter. Autumn is a perfect time.

Please see the website section for other ideas:

- Tip and Techniques
- Forms & Contracts (Download free Property Checklist)

As always I seek your feedback. Please share you tips, techniques compliments and complaints on this or any other subject by writing me at Director@VROA.orgDirector@VROA.org.


Palm Springs Magazine has featured Carole Smith?s English Garden Cottage. The site has flash presentations and virtual tours. Click here to see this beautiful vacation rental home: (palmspringsvacationconnection.com/h_101_english_country_cottage.htm)palmspringsvacationconnection.com/h_101_english_country_cottage.htm.

*** If you want your place added to the list of weekly contenders just drop me an email. I'm looking for the unusual and whimsical as well as the big and bold.

Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0032 – 10/13/03

Comments: 0

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