"Weather" you like it or not – winter is coming!

Linda Day Harrison
Linda Day Harrison | 4 min. read
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Published on August 21, 2012

I think we can all agree that whether you’re a seasoned property manager or building owner, or if you’re a rookie to managing property, that there are not enough reminders about Mother Nature changing course, come winter each year!

Weather can be a property manager’s best friend or worst enemy. The key is to be sure you are prepared! Even if you have the best staff and the finest building engineer, double checking the basics while the weather is mild is much more pleasant than learning that something was overlooked after it breaks or bursts in the middle of January, especially when it could have been prevented with a $5 piece of weather-stripping or a $2 valve.

Winter can really cause a lot of trouble for the bricks and mortar of a building, in addition to the windows and pipes. Going over all of the most vulnerable areas early will save you so much grief later on down the road. For instance, walk the lower levels and check the basements or whatever areas are least visited at your property, in addition to all spaces that are vacant.

It is vital that even the smallest pinhole be closed up tight. In a biting subzero winter, a blowing cold snap can pierce through that small hole and act as a razor through any pipe. That type of damage can be menacing and I would not wish it on anyone.

I have learned over the years that you MUST check and double check to prevent a winter disaster. As a force of habit I circulate the below checklist as a tickler to all of my staff in early Fall. It is a simple, yet gentle reminder that we need to make sure we have thought of the obvious before winter sets in. Every year you should pull out your checklist and send it to your team. This will help them to make sure they are covering their bases. Of course in the large properties, these checklists can become quite comprehensive, but regardless of size, these basic reminders are worth their weight in gold.

Winter Risk Management Checklist

  1. Winterization of outside hoses, spigots, etc.
  2. Boilers and heating equipment has been inspected and tested for proper operation.
  3. Roof inspected and gutters and downspouts have been cleaned and inspected.
  4. Vents and other openings are closed and sealed tight for cold air infiltration.
  5. Final fall plantings (bulbs, sod, etc.) completed and clean up.
  6. Customer heating systems checked and inspected (individual)
  7. Walk off mats inspected and located for installation on hard surface floor areas.
  8. Snow supplies purchased such as shovels, ice melt, etc. for first snow fall or ice storm.
  9. Snow blowers inspected, checked, and made ready for first snow fall (remember November/December you can have an early snow!).
  10. Snow removal vendor identified and contract in place. Please identify the name of the vendor hired for the 2012/2013 season and update all emergency calling lists.
  11. Insure heat tape, if applicable, is working properly.
  12. Be sure time clocks and other equipment is functioning properly for lighting and security systems (remember it is darker earlier so exterior lights and parking lot lights need to be on earlier).
  13. Inspect all vacant units and spaces to insure heat is operational and windows are sealed tight.
  14. Inspect all basements and lower levels to insure openings are closed and weather tight.

Download The Checklist

Here are some other sources for more comprehensive winterization steps. You may also find some ideas to include in your resident or tenant newsletters:

Have a safe winter!

Read more on Maintenance & Improvements
Linda Day Harrison

Linda Day Harrison works for The Broker List in Chicago, Illinois, an online platform for finding brokers, deals, services, and vendors.

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