It’s that time again. Shorter days and cooler nights mean winter is not too far away. Unless your properties are in the Bahamas (lucky you), it’s time to prepare for the winter months. Even property managers in a mild climate need to prepare for the cooler and wetter months ahead.
Creating a checklist of items that need to be checked, changed, or replaced will ensure that any repairs can be done on a timely basis before winter arrives. Be sure to check both occupied and vacant units for the following:
- Interior Windows – All windows should be checked for cracks and drafts. Promptly replace any windows that have cracks and replace any seals or weather stripping.
- Doors – All doors should be checked for worn weather stripping, with worn strips replaced if necessary. Worn, warped doors should be replaced.
- Water Heaters – While not a winter item, it’s wise to check water heaters for any signs of leaking. Prompt repairs or replacement will eliminate costly water problems during the winter months.
- Roofs – It’s imperative that all roofs be checked for wear or leaks and repaired immediately. Winter rains and heavy snow put a lot of pressure on a roof, increasing the likelihood of costly roof repairs in the middle of winter.
- Fireplaces – If your properties have working fireplaces, they should be checked for ventilation prior to use.
Outside the unit, the following items should be checked:
- Exterior Windows – Windows need to be checked outside as well, with outdoor sealant replaced if needed. No matter how weather tight the interior of the window, if the sealant is damaged on the outside, cold air will get into the unit.
- Stairs and Walkways – Sidewalks and exterior stairways need to be inspected for cracks and breaks. While this should be completed routinely, if you’re in an area where snow is a possibility, even an inch or two can cover those cracks, leading to a potential injury, and possible lawsuit.
- Patios and Balconies – These should also be checked periodically, but wet weather and snow accelerates wood damage, again creating a possibly dangerous situation.
- Chimneys – If your building has working fireplaces, a check of the chimney may be in order. Birds frequently find their way into chimneys, creating nests, and a potential fire hazard for your tenants. While this not be necessary everywhere, it should be considered, particularly if it’s been a while since chimneys were checked.
Depending on the type of properties that you manage, your list may become longer or shorter. Property managers that manage primarily single family homes will want to place furnaces and basements on the list as well. Whether your list is long or short, getting started early will eliminate many of the common maintenance problems normally experienced during the long winter months.