Winter happens, weather or not we like it. It's time to get ahead of the storms by helping your homeowners prepare. Here are a few tips for winterizing a property.
Insulate pipes that run through unheated areas such as basements, attics, or garages. Good choices are insulation sleeves, foam, or heat tape/wraps. In warmer regions, such as Texas and Florida, pipes can be vulnerable to the first frost, because many are located on outside walls.
Drain sprinkler systems and outdoor faucets to prevent them from freezing. Detach, drain, and store outdoor hoses before the first hard freeze. If you live in a colder climate, consider covering outdoor faucets with foam faucet covers.
Check Furnaces/Boilers/Heating Units
The start of the cold-weather season is a good time to replace furnace filters. A dirty or clogged filter will hurt the furnace’s efficiency. Be sure to change the filter every three months or so. Test furnaces/boilers/heating units by turning on the heat before cold weather hits.
If your home has a fireplace, make sure the chimney is clean and debris-free. A professional chimney sweep can help you remove soot and debris. Check chimneys for damage, including mortar or brick cracks and water damage. Also, check for birds and bird’s nests or any other critters who’ve decided to call the chimney home. You can install a screen or cap on chimney tops to keep this from happening in the future. Finally, make sure dampers open and close smoothly.
Weatherproof Doors and Windows
Caulk windows and install weather-stripping around doors. This inexpensive fix will help fill cracks and gaps to keep cold air from getting inside. A more expensive option is to replace older, single-pane windows with double- or triple-pane varieties. It’s a costly upgrade, but it will drastically increase energy efficiency. Insulate the door between your house and garage and consider getting insulated garage doors. An enormous amount of heat escapes through your garage.
Can’t afford new windows or doors? Use insulation film on windows and draft guards at the bottoms of doors. Both will help block cold air from seeping into your home.
Reverse Ceiling Fans
Reverse the direction of any ceiling fans in the winter. Switching fans from counter-clockwise to clockwise will push warm air from the ceiling down into the room.
Remove leaves, twigs, and other debris from rain gutters. This will prevent icicles and ice dams from forming. Ice dams are blocks of ice that can keep melting snow and water from draining off the roof. That water can leak into buildings, resulting in costly damage.
Yard areas need attention before the long winter’s nap. Rake or blow away leaves and clear lawns of toys, furniture, and other clutter before the snow flies. A pile of wet, soggy leaves invites snow mold to your lawn. Prepare trees to survive the winter by pruning, mulching, and fertilizing.
Prepare for Snow/Ice Removal
Check state and local laws for specifics on the common areas your HOA needs to keep clear of snow and ice. Examples include walkways, driveways, steps, railings, and outdoor terraces and balconies. Have a plan in place before winter on how your HOA will handle snow and ice removal.
Following these tips will help you get your property ready for the worst winter weather. You and your homeowners will want to get started on these before winter arrives, so spread the word early.