Major storms last winter left much of the country digging out from snow and ice.
Major storms last winter left much of the country digging out from snow and ice.

The winter months have nearly arrived, and as last year’s harsh season showed, even the typically warmer climes aren’t immune to snow and ice.

Many cities had a rude awakening last year, as unexpected winter storms revealed a lack of preparation. These 10 tips can help make sure your property is ready to withstand the cold.

  1. Stock up on ice melt and secure contracts for heavy snow clearing equipment/personnel in advance of a storm forecast. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and act early. Waiting until bad weather is imminent (or worse, has already arrived) could leave you in a bind.
  2. Make sure all furnaces and boilers are in good working order to ensure you don’t experience a system failure when it’s most dangerous. Clean units and replace parts and filters as needed; emergency repair services will be much more costly than preventive measures.
  3. Clear gutters of any built-up leaves or debris so they drain properly throughout the winter. Neglecting your gutters could lead to leaks or a dangerous accumulation of snow and ice.
  4. Fully inspect the building exteriors, including the roof, walls, and door and window frames. Repair or caulk any damaged, leaking or drafty spots to keep weather out and heat in.
  5. Wrap pipes in common areas, especially those in exterior walls or in colder parts of the building. There are many inexpensive products you can use, from self-sealing foam tubes to insulative tape, that are available at any home improvement store.
  6. For your outdoor irrigation system, winterization will depend on the location. In a more temperate climate, this may simply mean checking that the freeze sensor is working and turning off the water supply as needed. In a colder area, you’ll need to completely drain the pipes to ensure they don’t freeze; a professional should help “blow out” your sprinkler system.
  7. Check for and remove any damaged trees or weak branches that may not survive the high winds, icy freezes, or snow accumulation of a winter storm. Fallen or blown tree limbs could damage property or cause injury.
  8. Up the insulation in your common areas, especially around windows and doors. Heat-shrinking plastic wrap may not have the most attractive look, but it can be very useful for reducing heat loss through windows. Insulated shades and thermal drapes are an elegant option for clubrooms or community kitchens. Install weather stripping and a door sweep on exterior doors for a cheap and easy guard against the elements.
  9. If you have any wood-burning fireplaces on the property, it’s best to have them inspected and cleaned by a professional chimney sweep. Make sure the flue damper is operating correctly, the chimney is clear of any obstructions, and there’s no damage where the chimney adjoins with the roof.
  10. Don’t try to do all of the work yourself. Your residents are an important part of your property, so keep them informed. Encourage renters to report any maintenance issues promptly, and keep an emergency kit on hand should any power outages occur.