Running a Rental Business

Guide to Winterizing Your Airbnb Property

Hosting during the winter season requires learning how to properly prepare your vacation rental for the coldest months. This guide includes best practices for winterizing your Airbnb property and equips you with tips to deliver amazing guest experiences all season long.

By The Turno Team

Last updated: December 21, 2023

Understanding Winterization for Your Airbnb

Winterizing an Airbnb involves more than regular seasonal maintenance; it’s about ensuring a safe, cozy, and memorable experience for your guests during colder months.

Whether you’re located in a popular winter wonderland or a mid-climate region, winterization is an important component of effective property management. Consider your local environment. If your home and your guests may be affected by freezing temperatures, heavy rain, snow, hail, ice, or other extreme weather conditions, you’ll want to winterize. 

Preparing your property for winter meets two key hosting objectives: safeguard your guests and protect your property. Winterizing helps ensure that guests are not at risk of being hurt or negatively impacted by inclement weather. The process also serves as an annual touchpoint for responsible property management tasks like inspections and maintenance. 

The process of winterizing your vacation rental property includes both routine and seasonal cleaning, utility inspections, exterior care, and tailored amenities. Together, these measures will help you curate the perfect winter escape for your guests. 

The Importance of Preparing Your Airbnb for Winter

Winterizing a home starts anytime from October to November. The reason for this is that many fall cleaning tasks carry into the winter months. Tasks such as cleaning out gutters, downspouts, and chimneys are essential to creating a warm welcoming atmosphere for your guests. 

When you winterize your Airbnb each year you’re working to prevent damage from freezing temperatures, such as burst pipes or roof leaks, and to reduce the risk of costly repairs. These preventative steps also extend the lifespan of your home’s systems and infrastructure, saving you time and money in the long run.

For your guests, a well-prepared home can greatly enhance their experience. Sealed windows and non-drafty doors, a functional fireplace, and seasonal amenities aimed at guest comfort will improve the quality of their stay. Ultimately, a home’s proper winterization can boost guest satisfaction and support five-star reviews. 

winter vacation rental front walk way covered in snow

How to Winterize Vacation Homes and Rental Properties

Ensuring a comfortable and well-prepared winter environment for guests requires planning. Following are some essential steps for winterizing your vacation rental property. 

1. Conduct a Property Inspection 

Begin winterization with a thorough property inspection toward the end of fall. Staying ahead of the oncoming weather conditions will better prepare your home to welcome guests. Keep in mind that a comprehensive property inspection will help you prioritize your winterization preparation and should include: 

  • Room-by-room walkthrough noting needed repairs and potential improvements to the guest experience
  • Careful outdoor inspection looking for cracks, damage, debris buildup, and other exterior concerns  
  • Systems and utilities checks, including regular maintenance and required service

2. Consider Each Room of Your Airbnb

Winterizing indoor areas of your vacation rental home is essential to keep your property comfortable and energy-efficient during the colder months. Here are some typical winter property maintenance tasks: 

  • Replace batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Reverse ceiling fans to force warm air down and throughout the space
  • Remove and store window-mounted AC units, if applicable 
  • Prepare cozy winter essentials, including extra blankets and bedding as well as outdoor resources like shovels and deicing spray

3. Insulate Pipes and Water Systems 

As temperatures drop and ice and snow begin to form, your pipes are at risk of damage. To combat potential issues, insulate your home’s pipes and water systems

  • Wrap pipes in rubber or fiberglass sleeves
  • Use heat tape or heat cable to warm pipes as needed, particularly on exposed pipes 
  • Drain your water system if you know you won’t be hosting guests for an extended time 

You’ll want to take these measures for both indoor and outdoor pipes. Focus on pipes in areas where you know moisture is common. Places like under sinks, in the basement, attic, or other crawl spaces are at increased risk of freezing. 

Frozen pipes can lead to burst pipes, creating both a physical mess and a financial burden. It is important to routinely check for running water at each turnover. During the coldest weeks, you may want to ask your cleaning team to do visual checks under sink cabinets and other easy-to-see locations to look for signs of water trouble. The last thing you want is for guests to have no working water upon their arrival!  

two cups of hot chocolate and marshmallows set in front of a fireplace in a winter airbnb

4. Heating System Maintenance

To ensure cozy and comfortable guest stays, make sure your heating system is properly functioning and that warm air is flowing throughout your home. Furnace maintenance is an important annual To Do for any property. To get your heating system ready for winter guests: 

  • Dust the air vents and clean out HVAC ducts
  • Replace HVAC filters 
  • Stay on top of scheduled HVAC maintenance
  • Inspect the gas line, if applicable  
  • Test your thermostat, onsite and remote, if applicable 

Guests will rely on any smart technology you provide so make sure it’s working properly. When checking your thermostat, you should hear your furnace turn on almost immediately. If it does not, this could indicate weakened thermostat batteries, damaged wiring, or a defective thermostat. 

5. Consider Exterior Preparations

The process of winterizing your Airbnb doesn’t stop at the indoor tasks. The winter conditions will impact your driveway and sidewalk, porch and patio, lawn, outdoor furniture and decor, and all exterior amenities. Snow and ice buildup increase your chances of property damage. To protect your investments over the winter: 

  • Hire snow removal crews to come regularly and as needed to ensure guests have a clear and safe path to and from your property. 
  • Store patio furniture designed for warmer seasons and switch out pieces to winter-friendly outdoor furniture.  
  • Trim back trees and bushes to prevent damage from heavy snow, and winterize your garden by mulching and replacing summer flowers with heartier plants.
  • Close exterior water valves and drain outdoor faucets, adding faucet covers for extra protection.
  • Check for loose or damaged siding, roof tiles or shingles, and gutter systems – repair as needed. 
  • Look for cracks or gaps in exterior walls and around windows, and seal any openings to prevent cold air drafts.

Take care to also protect your Airbnb’s outdoor amenities, like grills, fire pits, pools, and hot tubs.

  • For a pool, cover it securely, and consider adding a fence for safety. If you have a hot tub, regular and proper maintenance is a must. Also, be sure to educate your guests on how to properly cover and seal the hot tub when not in use.
  • Add waterproof, secured covers for freestanding fire pits and fire tables, and winterize all propane or natural gas supplies. If not in use, disconnect the propane tank or shut off the gas line to protect it from the weather.
  • For grills, store them in a garage, shed, or sheltered area if possible. Disconnect and remove the gas tank. Store the tank outside, but ensure it is equally protected.
woman holding a mug wrapped in a plaid blanket looking out cabin bedroom window

Best Practices for Winterizing Your Airbnb

Winterize your Airbnb and prepare your property for guests to ensure that every stay leads to happy guests and positive reviews. 

Install Smart Technology

Implement smart technology, such as a programmable thermostat and smart space heaters, to enable remote temperature control, ensuring optimal comfort for your guests. 

Smart technology devices enhance energy efficiency, allow for precise temperature adjustments, and reduce utility costs. Additionally, smart technology provides data insights that enable cost-effective management of your home’s heating. Ensure a comfortable environment for guests while streamlining property maintenance through the use of smart tech devices.

Welcome Guests with Winter Amenities

Elevate your vacation rental experience with added winter amenities. Essential supplies like snow shovels, ice melt, and more should always be available for a winter vacation rental. But don’t stop there – enhance the guest experience with thoughtful touches like: 

  • Warm, waterproof gloves 
  • Drying rack for boots and gloves near the door 
  • Consumable hand and feet warmers
  • Hot beverage options like hot chocolate, apple cider, teas, and coffees 
  • Board games, playing cards, and family-friendly activities 
  • Trending and/or seasonal movies 
  • Firewood or fire starters for the fireplace or fire pit 
  • Plush bathrobes, slippers, and luxurious bath products 
  • Ingredients and kitchen supplies for making warm winter meals
  • Sleds and other toys for outdoor fun 

Amenities like these cater to the specific needs of winter guests and help make their stay comfortable and enjoyable, whatever the weather brings outside.

Regular Property Check-ins

Whether you, a property manager, or a vacation rental co-host oversees your property, it is crucial to conduct regular inspections and check-ins during colder months. 

Winter weather conditions can deteriorate quickly and property damage can occur when issues are not addressed promptly and properly. Rain, snow, ice, high winds, and extreme cold can directly impact guest experience. With regular property checks, you limit the risk of expensive damages and guest dissatisfaction that leads to negative reviews. 

Check-ins should make sure your winterization efforts are still working properly. Inspect for drafts, ensure walkways and/or driveways are free of snow and debris, and verify that guests have ample supplies to keep them warm. Mid-stay property check-ins are a perfect time to supply extra blankets and restock firewood, hot drinks, and other amenities. This is especially beneficial for guests who are staying for an extended period. 

Leverage your professional Airbnb cleaners to check that your property is always safe, comfortable, and ready for guests during the winter season. Have them check inventory, supplies, and other amenities that may need to be replenished and restocked. 

shoveling snow from a winter vacation rental

Preparing Your Airbnb Property for Winter

Creating a comfortable and welcoming winter retreat for your Airbnb guests requires preparation. 

Establish a functional entryway setup that prevents snow from being tracked indoors. Offer a designated area for coat removal and shoe storage to maintain cleanliness throughout the property. Make sure to include a mat or rug under the coat and shoe rack to collect melted snow and ice. This simple step not only protects your flooring but keeps the space tidy and prevents slips on icy floors.

For older homes that might lack sufficient heating, consider reliably safe space heaters as supplemental warmth sources. Prioritize safety by researching remote-controlled options to minimize fire risks. This thoughtful addition ensures guests stay cozy without compromising safety.

Anticipate guests’ needs by stocking up on essential supplies. Equip guests with shovels, ice melt, firewood, and car deicing tools to facilitate smooth and safe experiences. Don’t overlook the smaller details like window scrapers or deicing spray, essential for winter travel convenience. 

Finally, maximize your guests’ winter experiences with thoughtful touches throughout your vacation home. Offer a selection of hot beverages and plenty of cozy throw blankets for chilly evenings. Stock the pantry with staples to minimize grocery runs, allowing guests to focus on enjoying their stay without worrying about going out for daily essentials. Attention to these details helps guests feel welcomed, comfortable, and prepared to embrace the winter wonderland. 

Winterize Your Airbnb for the Perfect Escape

Proper Airbnb winterization and cold-weather preparations are crucial to maintain high-quality guest experiences and protect your property investment. With location-specific winterization measures, you can prevent issues like frozen pipes or inadequate heating, ensuring a comfortable and trouble-free stay for your guests. 

By proactively addressing winter-specific needs, hosts can enhance guest satisfaction, foster positive reviews, protect their properties from damaging winter effects, and increase bookings during the cold winter months. 

The Turno Team Avatar
The Turno Team , The Turno Team researches and publishes articles designed to provide short-term rental Hosts, Property Managers, and Airbnb Cleaners with insightful, useful resources. Articles written by the Turno Team cover a wide range of STR interests, from the latest industry data and best practices to real-world, practical advice on running efficient, revenue-generating vacation rental businesses in an ever-changing market.