Blog PostSeptember 16, 2020 - Condo Life is Grand
Autumn, the Season for Preventive Maintenance
From snow storms to freezing rain and cold temperatures, the winter season can create a number of problems for your building. Being prepared can help you get through the season with as little damage to your property and equipment and reduce the possibility of huge insurance claims and unanticipated expenses.
Go through the check list below to ensure you are prepared.
Inspect the roof
Flat roofs – ensure there are no areas where ice or heavy snow will pile up and sit. Problems can arise if water, ice or snow is allowed to build up. Ensure drains remain clear all winter.
Slanted roofs – inspect roof vents, shingles and waterproofing seals on roof edges and make necessary repairs where needed
Hire a professional to inspect and recommend repairs. Budget for regular inspections and repairs; preventive work can significantly extend the life of the roofs.
Clean gutters and downspouts
Ensure they are free of debris and drain water away. Run water down from the gutters and ensure it comes smoothly down through the downspouts. Clogged downspouts cause water to back-up which damages roofs, siding and cause ice damming and interior leaks. Add downspout extensions where possible, to divert water away from foundations, driveways, steps and walkways. Check that downspouts are tightly secured to the building. Prune overhanging trees to keep leaves and debris off the roof. Branches brushing on shingles damages them over time.
Hire a professional to inspect and sweep chimneys. Ensure caps are secure to prevent pests (raccoons, squirrels, birds) from entering. Tuckpoint exterior brickwork if needed and ensure liner is in good shape.
Check gas lines and keep gas exhaust vents clear of snow
The lack of gas means you cannot heat your building. Check the meter, gas line and connections and if you notice corrosion, wear and tear, contact your gas company. Ensure snow/ice does not block exhaust vents.
Inspect heating systems
Ensure you have a contract to have the heating system inspected. Ensure filters are replaced and repairs completed as required. Don’t forget to ensure there is heat in the elevator room, sprinkler room, mechanical rooms and any other area where a plumbing line can freeze.
Adjust temperature set points for common areas including corridors, common rooms and entry foyers. For each degree you lower the temperature, you lower the utility bill by an average of 1%.
Winterize outside equipment
Arrange to take outdoor equipment such as snow blowers for a professional tune-up so they are ready to handle the winter weather.
Winterize the irrigation system and drain exterior hose bib faucets
Have your qualified irrigation contractor shut the water off and blow the irrigation lines so that water does not build up, freeze and break the lines or freeze the control system. Drain non-frost hose bibs to prevent freezing and consider replacing them with frost-proof exterior hose bib faucets. Remove all outdoor garden hoses, drain and store.
Winterize outdoor pools and fountains
Have your qualified pool contractor drain the pool and turn off and winterize any fountains. Ensure the winter cover is tightly secured over the pool.
Heated garage ramps
Turn on the heating system and ensure the controls function properly. Don’t forget to turn it off in spring.
Heat tracing cables
Plumbing lines in areas where they can freeze (such as unheated underground garages) should be insulated and wrapped with heat tracing electrical cables. Ensure they are turned on before winter to prevent freezing.
Inspect underground garage “dry” fire sprinkler system
Have a professional inspect and ensure there is no water in a “dry” sprinkler system so it doesn’t freeze.
Clean and store summer furniture
Gather, clean and store outdoor furniture, garden hoses and barbecues.
Lay down carpet runners at heavy traffic areas
For high traffic areas such as lobbies, foyers, outside elevators, elevator cabs, lay down carpet runners/mats to reduce slip and falls on hard surfaces (tile) and prevent snow/salt to damage flooring (carpeting). Additional mats may be used during the winter months and then stored for the summer season.
Replace/install weatherstripping or caulking around drafty doors and windows
This reduces heated air to escape and keeps water from entering. Further, properly sealed exterior doors prevents pests from entering.
Repair slanted, cracked sidewalks, pathways, driveways, asphalt
Repair sidewalks that slant towards foundations to prevent water entry. Seal cracks to prevent de-icing salts and severe freeze/thaw cycles to damage surfaces. Water that freezes inside cracks can cause concrete to deteriorate and spall. Water penetrating into asphalt can cause the sub-grade to soften which leads to potholes and settlement.
Remove or prune dead wood or dangerous branches that could break off and damage buildings in the event of a heavy snow fall or wind storm. Contract the services of a tree arborist to inspect trees and provide you with recommendations. They can help you prepare a long term maintenance plan so that work can be done on a priority basis over the course of many years.
Review the snow management contract and ensure there is a snow removal plan in place. Have a planned place to store excess snow. Have the contractor install stakes to identify the location of roadway curbs. Place salt bins at appropriate areas. Ensure all catch basins are clean and clear including those in the underground garage so that water can run away freely.
Some general recommendations
Hire professionals that are licensed, insured and bonded. If an accident occurs on your property and the professional is not insured, the condominium corporation may be sued and fined.
Get it in writing and don’t assume. Ensure all parties are clear on work that is expected to be done and the estimated date when work will be completed.
You get what you pay for. Don’t always contract the work to the lowest bidder. Check references and ensure contractor is familiar working with condominiums.
Have one contact point with the contractor. It is normally the Property Manager. Do not have more than one person provide direction to the contractor. This prevents misunderstandings.
Pay the contractor based on pre-agreed terms. Typically, invoices should be paid within 30-40 days. If contractors are not paid on time, they may not be prepared to work for you in the future or their fees may increase to cover late payments.
For larger projects, contract the services of an engineering firm to prepare specifications, obtain quotations/bids, perform regular inspections, and approve all payments to the contractor.
This article was originally published in the Fall 2018 edition of Condo News.
Maria Finoro, RCM, ACCI, FCCI, General Licensee
MF Property Management Ltd.