South River Restoration Blog

Winterization: Are you prepared?

Okay, so it might still feel like the dog days of summer, but it’s truly time to start thinking about getting prepared for the winter months (don’t say POLAR VORTEX!).  Seriously, winters can go much more smoothly if all — homeowners, property managers and board members — work together to do due diligence to ensure tenants, homes, common areas and overall properties are ready for snow, ice and freezing temperatures.  That also means, having contractors like snow removal and restoration companies ready if it snows, a pipe bursts, etc.

Here are some tips from industry experts and homeowners alike, to help property managers, homeowners, renters, etc., get prepared for the winter freeze!

For Property Managers

COMMUNICATION PREPARATION

  • Establish email addresses to be used in email blast to the association residents to feed information and updates (an informed community is a happier community).
  • Establish building captains, floor captains who will put up informational flyers on their bulletin board or doors from management during storms/disasters to relay information.
  • Before Disaster Strikes –
    • Have updated listing of key outside contractors/vendors.
    • Have updated listing of key staff member and make sure they have the contractor listing.
    • Develop and update an emergency system and contact list.
    • Have maps and locations of shut offs.
  • Network with area contractors (snow, electricians, restoration firms).
    • Pre-Qualify reputable restoration companies (like South River Restoration).
    • Meet with the companies on your properties so they will know what type of equipment to bring to your different buildings.  They need to see how to access your buildings.
  • Get the name and cell number of your go-to guy or gal in the event of an emergency for that 3:00 a.m. call.
  • Network and create relationships with reputable plumbers, HVAC Repair Companies, Sprinkler Repair Companies, Fire Watch Companies.  You can never know too many people.
  • This should probably be number one on your hit parade – meet with your insurance agent to really know your policies, addendums and ask when to call them to open a claim.

 INSPECTION PREPARATION

  • Find out what units are vacant.  Contact owners/bank if possible.  Secure power and maintain heat within unit. Check for exposed or vulnerable pipes and wrap with insulation sleeve.  Start this process in early fall.
  • Walk the property to identify areas of concern – look at roofs, gutters, etc.
  • Pre-order, stock and set up salt, snow removal equipment, etc.

Board Members

PROACTIVE COMMUNICATION PREPARATION

  • Adopt and enforce rules requiring owners to:
    • Winterize their home and provide proof to property manager.
    • Obtain owner’s insurance and certify the same by submitting documentation to that effect.
    • Provide owner contact information (for owners residing on-site or locally).
    • Provide contact information for owner’s agent (for owners residing outside local area).
    • Provide tenant information (for units leased).
  • Make owners aware of the requirements of the governing documents and local laws (e.g., the requirement to clear sidewalks and leadwalks within the lot/unit boundaries).
  • Amend governing documents, as needed, to provide the Board with the authority to enter units, when necessary, to verify that they have been winterized, and to winterize units, as needed, at the expense of the unit owner who fails/refuses to do so.
  • Verify with insurance carrier/agent that insurance coverages are adequate, updated and in force.
  • Verify with management that vendor contracts are in place, including directing legal counsel to review same for sufficiency of legal protection for the association (i.e., that the contracts contain favorable insurance, indemnification and termination provisions).

For Homeowners*

COMMUNICATION PREPARATION

  • Notify management if leaving for vacation during harsh winter months.
  • Consider leaving set of keys to your unit with neighbor and/or management. Make all parties aware in case of emergency.
  • Report nearby vacant units to property management for monitoring.
  • Read and act upon ALL reminders from property management.
  • Be prepared with who to notify and what to do in utility outage (water/gas/electric).

 INTERIOR HOME PREPARATION

  • Have HVAC system checked and serviced by licensed contractor. Change Filter.
  • If leaving for vacation – keep heat maintained at least 60 degrees. Consider draining the water system, or turning off entire water supply to unit.
  • Identify your personal water shut offs in case of emergency.
  • Keep water on trickle on days with temperature below 0.
  • Make sure furniture is not blocking heating vents.
  • Wrap water pipes in basement/crawl space/outdoor mechanical room with insulation sleeves.
  • Check walls and attics for proper insulation. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows. Check windows and doors for drafts.
  • Have chimney swept prior to first use of the season. Keep flue on fireplace closed when not in use.
  • Keep exterior wall cabinet doors open that have piping during temps below freezing.
  • Place small lamp in cabinets housing piping to keep heat source warming pipes.

 EXTERIOR HOME PREPARATION

  • Clean out gutters and keep drainage areas free from debris.
  • Wrap water pipes in basement/crawl space/outdoor mechanical room with insulation sleeves.
  • Restock winter essentials – ice melt, salt, snow shovel, etc.
  • Turn off hose bibs and any other outdoor water supply.

*Some items are for the individual home or townhouse owner.

 

 

 

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