Repairs, Maintenance and Renovations
Condominium Winter Maintenance Tips from a Contractor’s Perspective
From the Volume 14, Winter 2023 issue of the CCI GHC Condo News Magazine
The preparation time during fall is important for condominium owners to prepare for the winter. Successfully managing a property will save a lot of money and grief in the middle of winter. This means being on top of pre-winter maintenance, buying and implementing the right protective measures, and reinforcing rules for tenants to make sure your condominium is ready. Unanticipated issues will always come up despite all the planning. Some issues are minor and can be solved easily with some preparation while others are more serious and need to be handled quickly.
With these preparations made, your property will be ready to withstand the cold winter months. You will save money on utilities and repairs if you have done your homework during this time.
Staying informed and being prepared is the best way to reduce the risk of expensive damages and repairs. Let me walk you through some common problems condominium owners run into and ways to prevent and solve them:
Inspect building exterior and roofs
Routine building inspection should never be underestimated. Buildings without proper sealing and insulation is vulnerable to severe damage from snowfall. This can also be troublesome for residents. Start off by hiring a general contractor to inspect rooftops for leaks and have a look at a building's exterior to ensure all of the common culprits have been sealed. Repairs for a tiny leak or a gap in a window is much easier than repairing the damage caused by weather-related problems like water infiltration.
What we usually look for are shingles that have been discolored, cracking, or fallen shingles. One or two damaged shingles can be easily done but for more severe cases, a roofing company or contractor is your best bet.
Get an expert when clearing snow from roofs
Don't be doing this on your own. The hazards of clearing snow-covered roofs are plenty. Surfaces are slippery from layers of ice or the building's structure might not be sound when covered in snow.
Contractors opt for methods where snow-removal doesn't require us climbing up roofs and if going up is a must, they're prepared with fall arrest systems, aerial lifts, and other protective equipment to ensure their safety.
Check for water leaks
It's no surprise that one of the most common issues we contractors come across are water leaks. Water leaks can occur in many places, and could have several causes from a damaged roof, failure in weather stripping, pipes fitted poorly, a broken appliance or a forgetful resident who left a faucet running.
To help reduce unexpected issues, actively looking for signs of water damage on your property can lead you to undetected leaks. Also, consider installing water sensors that can help detect leaks early to reduce the likelihood of major damage.
When there's a leak, determine the source of the leak, shut off the water at the source (if possible) and contact a professional. For example, if the ceiling is leaking, you wiII have to resort to calling a roofer to take a look at and patch your roof.
- All exposed pipes in your attic and basement should be insulated to prevent them from bursting.
- Outside faucets should be off and pipes cleared.
- Avoid mildew or mold by insulating walls and ceilings to prevent condensation.
- Debris, snow, and ice and snow can tear down your gutters roof damage so keep those gutters clear.
- Check if your sump pump works properly and if there's nothing blocking the exterior drain.
Check for leaks and drafts
This is because drafts are a major source of heat loss. Drafts can come in through cracks in walls, doors and windows.
The most important thing one can do to reduce drafts is to seal air leaks and cracks properly.
There are many ways to do this, but one of the most effective ways is by using caulking around doors, windows and other gaps. Applying caulk, weatherstripping, or foam around moving doors is very effective.
A good way to know if there are cracks or gaps that need caulking is to use a flashlight at night when everything else is dark. Any light shining through could mean gaps where drafts could come in. Mail slots and pet doors should also have insulation to keep in that precious warm air.
Re-Treat any worn exterior surfaces
Waterproofing and paint can wear out so it's important to check your home at least once a year.
You want to keep an eye out for chipping or cracking, discolored, and seals and paint that look faded. These are signs that resealing, or entirely new paint needs to be applied to an area.
Avoid ice damming
Ice dams that form near the edge of your roof actually trap melt-water and snow above. This water has nowhere to drain and can end up leaking in your home. The leak can damage inside ceilings and walls, and soak into insulation which can become an expensive mess. Ice damming often occurs because of, other issues, so prevention is the priority.
Pipes can end up frozen, swollen, cracked, clogged, or burst. If any of these instances happen, make sure you contact a licensed plumber to fix it right away.
Ask tenants if they've noticed any wet spots or dripping below pipes (like under a sink), as these could be signs of a joint disconnection. Even significant damage can be caused by small leaks if left alone for too long.
Inform your tenants to keep pipes from freezing during winter. For example, it's critical they keep the thermostat set to a minimum of 13°C and let water drip from faucets when outdoor temperatures fall below 0°C.
It's quite common to find drywall damage when tenants move out. This is usually from accidents or heavy wall-hangings. In some wall cases, the drywall's painted surface is the only thing acting as the air barrier in the exterior walls. Drywall can be patched up quickly in most cases, but some larger holes will need drywall replacement, which takes more time.
Justin Deboer is the president of Skyline Contracting. Since 2004, Skyline Contracting has been providing expert roofing in Burlington, Hamilton, Ancaster, Grimsby, and Stoney Creek, along with property maintenance services to multi-unit complexes. With years of experience showing the value of responsive service and quality workmanship, it is Justin’s privilege to serve on the Professional Partner’s Committee where he gets to add even more value for all clients.
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