Repairs, Maintenance and Renovations
Getting Ready for Winter…
From the Volume 13, Fall 2022 issue of the CCI GHC Condo News Magazine
As a member of a Condo Board, I am under no obligation to tell residents how to prepare their residences for winter. However as a proactive member of the Board I am compelled to remind residents how to prepare for the winter onslaught, BECAUSE, issues that come up over the winter are much harder to deal with than during Spring, Summer and Fall.
Here is the list our Condo Board sends out every Fall:
1) Turn off your outside water taps and leave them in an open position. I would also suggest that you purchase some pipe insulation and wrap the outside faucets and at least 8 to 10 inches of the piping inside your resident. There is nothing worse than having a pipe burst on the coldest day of the year, AND, the water leak could affect your next door neighbor or the residences below you. Depending on the cause for some condominiums, unit owners could be held responsible for damages. Buildings may want to set a “due date” for this each year, rather than play “roulette” with the weather. When the cold snap does settle in quickly as it has been known to do, you want the water off long before this happens. Ensure you effectively communicate this to all owners, regardless of your condominium type, to ensure those that use them are aware, and those that need to shut them off have a reminder.
2) If you go south or even take a few weeks vacation during the winter, ask or hire someone to check your residence once a day. This is both for peace of mind and insurance purposes. I know of a situation where the residence was only checked once a week and just after the once a week check, the line busted on the toilet, sending water cascading down through the floor and onto a baby grand piano in the room below.
3) Propane tanks should be emptied and wrapped in a blanket and stored in your garage or on your balcony . I would suggest that you use up your propane by cleaning your BBQ. Make sure you comply with any restrictions your Condominium may have in storing these type of items, as often there are Rules surrounding these.
4) Patio furniture should be stored and or wrapped securely so it doesn’t blow away, perhaps breaking a window. If a building, perhaps a reminder to all residents to secure items on the balconies as those high winter winds can carry belongings far away. As fall settles in balcony items may be the last thing on owners minds, so a quick reminder is always beneficial.
5) Notify residents what the procedures are for snow plowing. E.g. the roads are cleared first, then the driveways then the steps. Residents need to understand that personal schedules cannot always be accommodated when clearing.
6) Have your furnace checked. A furnace break-down during the winter could cause more than just a cold residence.
7) Keep a bag of de-icer in your garage, trunk or unit for your own personal use.
8) Do not leave out treats for stray animals, they might take up residence in your patio furniture or under your patio, or in attracting wildlife, result in expensive repairs to the exterior of the structure, resulting in unbudgeted expenses for the Condominium – of which you pay into.
9) Finally, remind residents about the earliest they can put up their Christmas lights and when they have to come down. A reminder in January would also be appropriate.
Winterizing can be very easy and fairly quick, not winterizing could be very, very expensive and more importantly situations can ruin friendships as well as dealing with insurance companies can be a long and painful process.
From a management perspective, there are multiple components that Corporations should look at in order to “winterize” the site outside of the residents immediate exclusive use common elements and unit areas as well as the corporation common elements. Here are some of the basics to help you along the way:
Irrigation – has the main system been shut off, blown out and a report of any issues noted received to be diarized for repair in the spring? This should occur in mid to late September, to ensure the system is properly maintained and damages do not occur. Many times corporations try to get the “maximum benefit” of watering and avoiding having the system shut down in an orderly fashion leaves them vulnerable to quickly fluctuating fall weather that can happen from time to time.
Eaves Troughs – has the eaves cleaning been scheduled to ensure all debris is removed. A good rule of thumb is to pay that little bit extra to have the downspouts disconnected, checked for blockage and reinstalled. This will ensure a proper flow in the winter months and reduce the potential for back-ups along the lines.
Heat change over – this is primarily a building item. There are some townhomes that have common space that this could apply to as well. Has the date for the heat turnover been scheduled, in advance and owners notified. While we can all agree that the weather certainly fluctuates from year to year each and every season – it is extremely important to choose a turnover date and stick to this to assist your contractor in planning for this endeavour. They are not always readily available to attend on short notice, which could leave your residents a little cool until this process can occur. If your system operates of an MUA (Make up Air unit) – have your contractor change the filters early and trouble shoot for any start up issues. This will ensure that you have heat when you really need it.
Ramp Heaters – many ramps have an automatic sensor, however many still don’t. Have the ramp heaters checked, the sensor checked and ensure functioning BEFORE the first snow fall. You don’t want to find your condominium facing a potential claim if something goes wrong.
Some buildings have heaters designed to keep other components warm during the winter months, such as fire sprinkler lines, drains that run through the slabs, etc. Heaters and heat trace cables, should all be checked long before the cold snap happens. This will ensure that property is not damaged, and repairs can be made well in advance of the cold weather. These could be for components in the garage, or somewhat exposed to the elements. I have buildings that require heat turned on for the elevator shaft to ensure they function properly otherwise the cold air will seep into the shaft areas likely to cause expensive repairs to the elevator system.
Exterior lighting – should always be fully visually reviewed as fall approaches. With less daylight it is imperative that any deficiencies in lighting be addressed as soon as possible to mitigate the chance of anyone falling due to poor lighting.
Asphalt review – are there any visible areas with holes that should be patched? I have had boards in the past decline to repair them as the “plow will only take it out”. While I agree this is a valid concern, not fixing the hole can create a much more liable situation for the condominium. A quick, cheap cold patch will help ensure no one slips and falls, or an ice rink situation is not created.
Winters can be good or bad for Condo owners and their Boards, You can add to the list above , no matter though, BE PREPARED.
Gail Cote, RCM, OLCM-G is a Condominium Manager at Property Management Guild. She enjoys providing professional Property Management services to her clients since 1999 and has achieved her RCM designation. Gail enjoys participating on the CCI-GHC Board of Directors as well as actively volunteering on the CCI-GHC Professional Business Partners and Communication Committees. Gail has participated as a speaker at CCI events including the CCI-GHC Annual Conference, as well as having written articles for the Condo News publication.
Bill Clark, Condo Board of Director, WCC439
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