When it comes to protecting your apartment communities and your residents, we know you pull out all the stops. The best offense truly is a good defense. With winter just around the corner, it’s time to start making a list of maintenance preventatives to ensure that the approaching cold temperatures don’t leave you on thin ice.
Service all Furnaces
The most obvious maintenance to-do is to have all of your heating units, furnaces and/or boilers serviced by a certified HVAC technician. It’s critical to do this before winter so that any problems can be addressed before your residents need to start using their furnaces.
Inspect Windows and Doors
Often, inspecting windows and doors falls at the bottom of a property managers to-do list. However, this simple task can save both you and your residents money in the long run. Check both the inside and outside of every door and window in your community. Specifically with older windows, the top portion tends to creep down over time leaving a gap for air to come in. Windy days are perfect to check for drafts as you’ll be able to hear the wind blowing in. Be sure to make notes and replace any damaged weather stripping and re-caulk any damaged or deteriorating seals. Most hardware stores sell relatively inexpensive door sweeps to put on the bottom of entrance doors to help block any drafts. If the windows in your rental community are older and single pane you might want to consider two options to help with the cold weather. The first, and short-term solution, is to wrap them in plastic wrap to keep out drafts. The second, and more long-term, and also more expensive, is to replace the older windows with newer double pane windows. Although this is quite an investment the long-term benefits will save money. Whether you pay the heating costs or the residents do, it’s a win-win. If heating costs are your responsibility you will be saving money. If they are the resident’s responsibility not only will they be saving money but will be more satisfied with their living experience in your community and you’ll likely have less resident turnover.
Don’t forget to check your insulation. Make sure that all attics, basements and crawl spaces are insulated to help with heat retention. Don’t forget to insulate any exposed pipes as well. Any exposed pipe has the potential to freeze and burst if not properly insulated. If your community isn’t currently insulated make some calls and get some estimates. This investment provides a huge return on investment when it comes to heating costs.
Have a Plan
If your rental community is in a geographic area that frequently receives snow, it is absolutely crucial to have a well thought out snow removal plan in place and make sure that all your staff and residents are familiar with the details. Stock up on salt before the inclement weather arrives and have enough to last the entire winter season. Ice buildup is a huge liability issue so be sure to salt heavily and frequently. Additionally, make it clear who will be removing any snow and ice. Is it your responsibility or the residents or will you hire a third party? Once this information is decided send out a notice to all residents to help establish their expectations about snow and communicate the expectations to all staff members as well.
Although a winter storm leaves your community looking visually stunning, snow and ice on trees can pose hazards to your residents. Tree limbs covered in snow and ice become heavy and can easily break and damage roofs and vehicles. In fact, a single square foot of ice weighs 5 pounds and can quickly build up. Before winter weather hits are sure to trim any weak or low hanging branches to prevent any issues.
These few simple steps will not only prevent work for you in terms of repairs but will also show your residents that you work hard to ensure they enjoy their experience in your community and care about their well-being.