Andy Williams may be bellowing over the airwaves that “it’s the most wonderful time of the year,” but property managers know that it’s also one of the most challenging times of year–especially if you’re not prepared for the impact that winter may have on your properties.
While winter weather can do a number on our homes, there are five simple steps you can take to solve winter’s biggest problems and protect your properties. Follow our lead, and you’ll find that winter could actually be the happiest season after all!
#1: Reserve Your Snow-Clearing Contractors Early
When that big winter storm hits, you want your properties to be first in line for snow removal. Save yourself the headache of taking a number and waiting in line for the next available contractor by setting up contracts in advance for snow clearing throughout the season. Stay on top of the storm forecasts and call well in advance to secure your services.
Pro tip: Ask the tough questions when you’re shopping around for the right contractor for the job. How early can they arrive after an overnight snow? Are they able to return later in the day to clear additional snow if the storm continues? Compare prices and services to determine the best fit.
#2: Inspect the Exterior of Your Properties
Make a list and check it twice. When cold weather is just around the corner, that’s your cue to ensure that your properties are in good shape to withstand winter weather.
First, survey the exterior of your properties for dying trees and broken branches that could damage a property when high winds hit and snow and ice accumulate. You’ll also want to check the property for seemingly harmless imperfections that could actually cause a serious problem come winter. For example, look out for cracks in siding and windows—winter weather can exacerbate the problem and result in serious damage, like pipes freezing or bursting.
#3: Check for Snow Pooling and Build-Up on Roofs
There is no greater thorn in the side of a property manager than roof problems. Save yourself the trouble by doubling down on prevention this winter and ensuring that your properties’ roofs are prepared to handle the heavy burden (literally!) of snow and ice this winter.
Start by inspecting rooftop AC units and vents and clearing them of leaves and debris so that snow can melt and drain properly throughout the season. Don’t forget about the gutters—clearing them out before the first big snowstorm will ensure that melted snow and ice drains properly.
But don’t stop there—it’s just as important to check in on the distribution of snow build-up to make sure that the building isn’t overloaded. Low-slope roofs are particularly at risk for pooling that can result in leaks and property damage, so get in touch with a roofing expert to help you to determine if your building is at risk.
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#4: Devote Time to Fire Prevention
Did you know that house fires peak from December through February? It turns out that those same cozy, festive activities that we all love about winter also present a fire hazard. From Christmas trees and holiday cooking to festive candles and space heaters, winter calls for a few extra precautions.
Protect your properties by conducting some common-sense fire prevention. Check all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in good working order. While you’re at it, inspect furnaces and conduct any maintenance before the cold weather hits.
It’s also a great time to send a friendly reminder to tenants about safety guidelines for space heaters and any other fire hazards in the building, like chimneys and indoor grills. Remember, only you—and your tenants—can prevent property fires, so reiterate those safety warnings at least once a year.
#5: Stock Up on Anti-Icing & De-Icing Products
This winter, don’t slip up on keeping the property surrounding your buildings safe. There are many ways for property managers to solve the problem of icy sidewalks and walkways, but it’s more complicated than just sprinkling rock salt outside the building after a big storm. There’s a science to anti-icing and melting products, and learning about it can make your life a lot easier.
Here’s the 101 version: De-icing products melt snow and ice after they fall, while anti-icing products help to prevent it from sticking in the first place. Anti-icing products are a great way to thwart winter troubles because not only to they minimize build-up–they also make ice and snow much easier to remove. Often, you’ll need a combination of anti-icing and de-icing products to stay ahead of a big storm, so you’ll want to have your plan of attack in place and stock up in advance.
What are your go-to solutions for winter’s biggest problems? Share your words of wisdom in the comments below!Read more on Maintenance & Improvements