We hate to say it but winter is coming. For condo associations, this is an especially stressful time because all units need to be winterproofed and the premises must be well-equipped to prevent slippery accidents.
The number of winter preparation tasks you need to perform will vary with the size and shape of your condominium and surrounding property. There are, however, some standard operating procedures that every association should address before each winter season. These include annual maintenance to avoid weather damage and implementing effective control measures to prevent icy injuries.
All too often the snow season creeps up and condo associations find themselves scrambling for contractors and materials at the last minute. We want to make sure that’s not the case for you this year, so we’ve detailed the standard winter preparation procedures with timelines followed by a printable checklist summary.
Water damage is the most common impairment condominiums face in winter. To ensure your building is secured when the snow hits, one of the first items you check off your winter to-do list should be waterproofing the exterior, including the roof. It’s a good idea to have a specialized contractor inspect your building’s roof to identify and repair any potential leaks.
Because fall typically leaves gutters filled with dead leaves, it’s also important to inspect and clean these before rain turns to ice and snow. Aim to start each winter with gutters and downspouts in immaculate condition. If gutters and downspouts are not adequately maintained, melting ice can result in ice damming and infiltration into walls, ceilings, and insulation.
As you waterproof the exterior, take the opportunity to ensure your entire building is well-insulated. This will minimize heat loss and help the association avoid high winter utility bills. You might also implement a standard for humidity control to prevent excess moisture from accumulating inside the building.
To avoid frozen pipes, a minimum heat standard should be set for all units. This is especially important when some residents move away during the winter. Pipes that are located in unheated areas outside of residential units, such as the attic, should be enveloped with an electrical heating system to ensure they are not exposed to freezing temperatures.
Exterior faucets should be shut off and drained as soon as the temperature starts to drop. If your building has a pool, either drain it too or bring a specialized contractor in to brace it for the colder weather. Any bath houses on the premises should also be drained at this time.
While you go about performing your annual winter maintenance, be sure to think ahead and take note of projects like window replacements and paving that need to be done in fairer weather. Book contractors for these projects during the winter to avoid fierce last-minute competition come spring.
As a condo association, you are expected to have control measures in place to keep everyone on the premises reasonably safe. This becomes particularly challenging in winter when icy conditions drastically increase the risk of slips and falls. To prevent winter accidents, walkways should be shoveled and driveways plowed in a timely manner after every snow. We also recommend regularly salting walkways, driveways, and parking lots to restrict ice formation.
Many snow removal services allow you to subscribe for a seasonal flat rate. Although this may be more expensive during a dry winter, it is preferred by most condo associations because it is easier to budget around. Condo associations that do not opt for a subscription will typically overspend on removal costs when winter weather is consistently snowy.
When salting walkways, driveways, and parking lots, be sure to use a salt that is not damaging to surfaces. Calcium chlorate, which was widely used in the past, is notoriously detrimental to pavement because it gets into the pores and breaks it apart. The better option today is calcium chloride, which is a liquid salt developed for use on city streets that won’t leave an aftermath of costly concrete repairs.
Review Your Coverage
Even the most winterized condominiums can still experience mishaps. In the event that your building does sustain winter damage or someone is injured on the premises, it’s important that your association is adequately insured. If you have not done so already this year, book an appointment with your JGS advisor to review your condo association’s property insurance and general liability policies to ensure you have sufficient coverage should the need for a claim arise this winter.