One of the best ways to keep up with building maintenance in winter conditions is to know what needs to be done before cold weather sets in, and prepare your property, residents, and staff early. Here are some tips for getting your properties ready for winter.
– Make a list. Keep track of what work needs to be done long before winter arrives. Base the list on what issues you encountered in the past and assess if they were handled effectively. If not, readjust your processes to avoid any reoccurring issues. One suggestion is in Column 1, make a list of quick-fix items that you can do early to prepare (like check smoke alarms, chimneys, heaters, gutters). In Column 2, write items that might take a little more time, but are necessary (replacing roofs, railings, broken steps, faulty windows). In Column 3, write out all the worse-case scenarios you can think of and evaluate if you are equipped to handle these emergencies (flooding, roofs collapsing, trees falling). In the final column, make a list of service requests you foresee coming in during the cold months that can’t be done in advance, such as clearing snow or fixing broken water pipes. With unpredictable weather, you never know what will happen. Advance planning will save you time and headaches in the long run.
– Complete maintenance early. Clean the gutters, address any concerns with the roof, and stock up on items that will be needed for winter, such as bags of salt for walkways and driveways, gasoline for snow blowers, and any other things that maintenance workers may be required to have when the weather becomes snowy or icy. These items can be found during the winter months, of course, but they may be harder to find and more expensive. They may also be in short supply when an upcoming snowstorm is forecast for your area.
An important area for winter weather maintenance is heating. Common areas and resident units need to have heat that works properly. If the building uses natural gas heat, the furnace also needs to be serviced to make sure it’s safe to operate. Failing to maintain gas furnaces places residents at serious risk of potential injury. If you have a chimney, make sure it is clear and works as expected. With heat that works properly and walkways and parking lots that are clear and free of ice and snow, your property management company will have fewer resident complaints and less accidents.
– Fix things quickly. Keeping the walkways, driveways, and parking lot clear will take up a lot of the maintenance department’s time and energy if the area gets significant snowfall. Residents who slip and fall on snowy or icy patches, or who can’t safely get into or out of the parking lot and driveway because of ice or accumulated snow, may file a complaint with the property management company. An accident like a slip and fall may also be something a resident could sue over, requesting compensation for injuries sustained and financial damages acquired. Proper maintenance can mitigate a lot of the risk and the building will be better protected from damage and lawsuits. This is now a good time to make sure your insurance and your tenants’ insurance is in place.
Taking a few small steps will help ensure residents have a happy and safe winter. Make sure you are staffed with the right people and tools to handle any incidents during harsh weather. Inform all your residents about your winter hours, holiday schedule, and the best way to contact you in case of an emergency. You may also wish to inform residents of tips to keep them safe this winter.