As you look around your property, or even the yard surrounding your house… you probably see a lot of leaves on the ground, blowing around and soaking up the fall rain. The evening chill in the air is undeniable, and most of us on the East Coast have probably begun to use the heating side of our HVAC system.
With a little over a month left to go in the fall season, we are rounding out and sharing a list of our tips and guidelines for building a stellar fall preventative maintenance plan. If you manage communities, and need ideas on where to get yourself, your team or your residents started on the topic of Fall Preventative Maintenance, this blog is for you!
Tip #1 – Start Outside with a Fall Clean Up. Fall is a messy season, with leaves falling and creating debris pile ups that can be messy, smelly, and problematic if left to pile up in the wrong place.
- Remove fallen leaves from any grassy areas. This will become especially messy in the snow and could hinder new grass growth in the spring.
- Check gutters for fallen leaves or other fallen debris from the summer and fall seasons.
- Check all exterior drains and make sure they are clear from any leaves or debris build up. Don’t forget to check your downspouts! A clog that holds water in the winter could freeze and damage your downspout.
- Power wash algae off sidewalks, siding, decking etc. This is especially important after a rainy summer.
- Inspect your roof, and make sure there are no missing or damaged shingles. Check for damage to the flashing or any potential penetrations.
- Take care of your summer equipment. Make sure gardening tools and machines are cleaned and properly stored until needed again.
Tip #2 – Check your exterior systems. You want to make sure you are clear and prepped for freezing temperatures that are on the way.
- Clear debris and fallen leaves away from external HVAC units, fire hydrants, etc.
- Winterize exterior plumbing – your HOSE BIBS.
- Pro – Tip & the How To: Turn off the water supply to the hose bib inside the building or the home. Then, turn on hose bib to drain remaining water; ensure it runs all the way out and then turn off the hose bib.
- Check your exterior lighting. There are shorter daylight hours ahead. You should walk the property and note any nonfunctional streetlights, entrance lighting and/or parking lot lighting. Plan to repair any nonfunctional lighting.
Tip #3 – Take steps to prepare the interior of the property, next.
- If early enough in the fall season, test your heating system BEFORE you need it.
- Change your HVAC filters.
- Ensure pipes are adequately insulated and not exposed.
- Check your electrical system before increased usage takes place in the winter months.
- Check dryer vents for lint build up, and/or schedule a duct cleaning if needed. Ensure the dryer is functioning and venting properly.
- If fireplaces or chimneys exist – make sure they are inspected or cleaned prior to use to prevent creosote buildup and/or soot blowback.
Tip #4 – Consider this time of year to conduct a safety check.
- Replace batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Note fire hazards and address immediately.
- Pro – Tip: These hazards may include: Burn marks near electrical sockets…. Use of space heaters beyond appropriate wattage….Storage of personal items near fireplace, furnace or other areas with heat and flames.
- Ensure proper seals on entry points to prevent pest infestations.
Tip #5 – Prepare the tools and equipment you will need for the winter. Stock the supplies needed, as well.
- Stock materials for ice and snow removal. Know the difference between rock salt and ice melt.
- Pro – tip: Rock salt is inexpensive and easy to find. It works best when temperatures stay above 5 degrees. Ice Melt works in a similar format but will work in temperatures up to -15 degrees.
- Make sure you have the following: shovels, snow blowers, spreaders for ice melt, ice scrapers, etc.
- Check tools and equipment for signs of rust or wear and tear
Tip #6 – Brush up your Disaster Plan with winter events in mind
- Make sure your team is aware of their roles and responsibilities during a winter weather event.
- Review and/or establish contracts with emergency service providers who can assist with winter events – frozen pipes, winter emergencies, major snowfalls, etc.
- Check for overlap for city/county responsibilities with snow and ice management.
- Update contact information for utility companies.
- Check and update the supplies in your home, car and office emergency kit – in case of extended loss of power, stuck in snowstorm or inability to travel for essentials.
Tip #7 – Communicate your efforts, plans and preparation with residents, staff, and other stakeholders.
- Make sure your staff knows the plans and expectations for inclement weather.
- Walk the property before freezing temperatures to note all vacant units and check the status of the heating system before dropping temperatures.
- Distribute a checklist and helpful reminders for residents to remember in the colder days ahead.
- Pro – Tip: Share tips to avoid frozen pipes, such as maintaining heat when away, and leaving water drip during cold snaps.
- Pro – Tip: Share reminders of tenant responsibility for snow and ice removal from their vehicles ahead of winter storms.
- Keep staff informed of their responsibility for snow and ice removal on the terrain of the common area.
- Pro – Tip: Remember to include the importance of floor mats and “Wet Floor” signs at entryways to absorb wet and icy foot traffic.
If you have done all the above, you are likely set up for a successful winter season. Next up – help your residents and your staff get ready for the winter season by sharing these tips and strategies. Let us know if you would like a complimentary class for your team on the topic at hand, or a further look into Disaster Planning and Winter Preparedness.
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