Repairs, Maintenance and Renovations
“Top Tip” – Fall Readiness
From the Volume 17, Fall 2023 issue of the CCI GHC Condo News Magazine
Fall is here in a flash. And just like that it is time to get our buildings ready for winter. We are hopefully close to wrapping up our various projects or at least getting them to a good stopping point until they resume in the spring. From a building and property perspective, there are many small, routine things that if done now can save time, headaches, and money later.
An obvious one is roofing, which I won’t actually cover here. My colleague, Shawn Trudel, wrote an excellent Top Tip on Roof Health that appeared in the Spring, 2023 edition, which can be separately referred to. It covers an excellent routine that can apply to both spring and fall. This Top Tip will look at other building and property areas that we can look to be similarly proactive.
Like roofing, our site and garage drainage systems should be cleared of all the guck that accumulates. Get after those catch basins, garage roof drains, and suspended slab drains. Nothing is worse than those systems already being partially clogged, which in winter can lead to dangerous icing and with it some of those potentially serious or liable slip and falls. On the technical side, that debris and ice accumulation can damage and/or reduce the life cycle of related systems.
Test the operation of any snow melting systems whether at ramps and stairwells, eavestroughing and eaves, or tracing cables for drains and piping.
Carry out as-needed, proactive tree maintenance to avoid damage during inevitable winter snow, wind, and ice storms. This type of forward thinking is in part for tree health, but also that those branches and limbs can often cause other property damages when they detach and fall.
By the time this piece is published, pools and water features should have been properly shut down and winterized. If they haven’t, best get on it!
Think about mechanical turnovers. Again, the cooling-to-heating switchover has likely been done by now. However you may want your HVAC mechanics to do a once over to potentially identify any routine or proactive maintenance that gives the systems a better probability of uneventful operation through the winter, and in the case of cooling systems, easy start-up again in spring.
Chimney flues and vents should be cleaned and maintained as necessary. Ensure that carbon monoxide sensors and emergency lights are fully operational (this would be good seasonally, really).
Back to the site, look out for heaved walkways that could be further trip and slip hazards. Get them replaced now if possible. Loose railings should also be looked after as they would be increasingly relied on to assist in egress during inclement weather.
Window Condensation is an increasing likelihood, which is most frequently a product of in-suite humidity that can be largely controlled by some simple education and routine maintenance.
- Make sure ducts are clear and exhaust fans operate well, then use them during high humidity creating activities such as cooking, laundering, and hygiene.
- Use a dehumidifier, if needed, and conversely don’t use humidifiers (even though there is sometimes temptation to for comfort). If you do use them, use them knowing that they can be detrimental from a condensation perspective, while improving personal comfort.
- Maintain good air circulation in general.
- During extreme periods, operable windows could be slightly opened as a temporary humidity balancing ‘hack’ of sorts. Close the windows immediately thereafter, understanding that this approach is not particularly energy friendly.
Some acceptance that condensation many not be completely eliminated, rather some practical balance needs to be struck.
Remember that a little TLC on all of these systems can go a long way to extending their useful lives, while reducing headaches, and saving money.
Jeremy Nixon, P.Eng., BSS is the Vice President at Brown & Beattie Ltd., a building science engineering firm dedicated to providing clear and sensible building improvement, maintenance, and repair planning advice by listening to clients’ objectives. Mr. Nixon is licensed with Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) and holds a Building Science Specialist (BSS) designation.
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