How to Winterize my Grand Rapids Rental Home


Winter looks different in each part of the country, and in Michigan you can expect cold, ice and snow. There are things you need to do to winterize your rental home, especially if it’s vacant.


First, call the city and have them turn the water off at the street. Many times, people will only turn off the water at the meter. That may get you through some cold weather, but if it’s going to be a hard winter, it is much safer to have it turned off at the street. So a good Grand Rapids property manager will recommend you cut the water off at the street. Then, drain the pipes.

Open the water heater and let all the water drain. Once the tank is dry, get some antifreeze. You’re looking for the type of antifreeze you’d use on a motor home. Put the antifreeze down each trap so the trap fills up with antifreeze.

The toilets should be flushed one last time, and then you’ll put antifreeze into the tank. Some people handle toilets differently and they put a whole gallon of antifreeze down the toilet. You might want to put it in the tank, and then flush the toilet again so the antifreeze mixes with the water in the bowl and the trap.

If the home is going to be empty for a long period of time, put plugs in the drains otherwise the antifreeze may evaporate. Without a cap, you’ll get an unpleasant sewer smell in the house. With the plugs, the trap won’t dry out as fast and when it does, you still won’t have that awful smell.

Windows and Doors

Lock every window properly and put deadbolts on every door. Check the service doors in the garage as well. Those doors need deadbolts as well so it’s not easy to get into the house.


There’s some debate about whether to leave the lights on. Some property owners choose to leave lights on with a timer. Remember that the lights may not mean much. In the winter, when the driveway isn’t plowed and the snow is piling up, people are going to know no one is home.


You can turn the heat off in the property, but we don’t recommend it. The water has been drained from your pipes in case the heat does go out, but if you leave the heat off in the house and the temperature drops to 20 or 30 degrees, the plaster and drywall can shrink and crack. Many property managers will recommend you keep the heat on for that reason.

Sump Pump

Sump PumpIf you have a sump pump and a finished basement, consider a backup battery and/or an alarm. The alarm bolts right to the pipe, and if the flow gets too high, you’ll get an alert. You can set it up to receive a text message when this happens.

If you have any questions or you need any help, contact us at United Properties for assistance in winterizing your home.