Preparations for Winter = An Ounce of Prevention

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With the Fall season coming to an end and winter beginning, there’s no denying what a beautiful time of year it is. However, with that beauty comes the need for prevention by property managers, apartment owners, building managers, and community associations of winterizing to start preparing their buildings, grounds, and amenities for the winter season. Taking the right precautions now to protect property should ensure everything makes it through the winter in good shape with no major (or minor) problems.

Below are a few tips and reminders for you and your clients to help make sure that the necessary winterizing steps are taken with any assets, increasing the lifespan of the grounds and amenities. If your client has community assets, this will also help reduce any potential future costs for all community members for the repair or even replacement of any equipment such as pools, tennis courts, and lawn care tools from wear and tear caused by the rough winter conditions.
Follow and have a maintenance schedule for the property’s heating and cooling system. Change air filters regularly to help with efficiency and heating bills.

Some of the things Property Managers (along with maintenance staff) and Community Associations should be sure to check before the winter season hits include:

  • A thorough walk-through of all grounds, making sure to check all building components—roofs, windows, gutters, trim, decks, garages, elevators, siding, HVAC units, etc.

  • Check all landscaping and equipment, such as controllers, timers, sprinkler systems, sidewalks, fencing, outdoor lighting; include recreational equipment like pools, playgrounds, tennis courts, and exercise rooms.

  • Sprinklers should be turned off. Ensure any exposed water pipes are wrapped with plumbing tape; shut down and drain the water from any spigots.

  • Add weather-stripping around windows or repair any poorly-closing doors to reduce wind gusts and to maximize heating efficiency.

  • Review the maintenance plan for keeping all parking lots, sidewalks and stairs free from ice and snow. Make sure that a snow removal log is prepared and that staff is instructed on how to maintain it. Logs are an important defense against slips and falls.

  • Ensure all tenants are notified and fully informed in keeping their heat on and not to let the unit drop below 40 degrees (if they are going to be away from their unit).

  • Follow a proper maintenance schedule for the property’s heating and cooling system; change air filters and clean cooling system coils regularly to help save money on heating bills.

  • Gutters are a collection point for leaves; inspect and clean regularly to reduce the chance of ice damming and water damage.

  • Clean all landscaping equipment, removing dirt and moisture to reduce rust and wear, extending the life expectancy of the equipment.

  • Prepare snow removal equipment.

  • This is a great time to replace hoses on washing machines, a frequent cause of water damage.

  • This extensive preparation list is also the perfect opportunity to remind tenants and residents to change the batteries on their smoke alarms, and to remind and reinforce the safety precautions needing to be taken when using space heaters.

  • Don’t forget to keep a list of your vendors ready and handy in case damage does occur.

Time is of the essence when winterizing any property, and reminding your building owners and community associations (and yourself!) to be proactive in winter preparations can save you and them any future hassle—and surprises and money.

Remember: The first storm of the season might take you by surprise, but doesn’t have to be a time of springing into frazzled action. If you’ve proactively pre-prepared, then you and your clients, owners and associations can calmly handle any surprise storms.
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