Is Your Property Prepared for the Cold?

Seasonal property inspections are not only a best practice for maintaining the safety of your residents, but they help you maintain the value of your property. So, before you get bundled up and settled in for the Winter, now is a great time to get your multifamily property ready for the cold weather.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, large areas of the US are already experiencing record temperature drops. Speaking about Winter Storm Caleb, the National Weather Service stated, “This is an air mass that’s more typical for the middle of January than mid-November. It is pretty much about the coldest we can be this time of year [and] it could break records all over the region.” And these bitterly cold temperatures are predicted to continue from the Texas Coast to coastal South Carolina.

Don’t Give Them the Slip

The National Floor Safety Institute reports that slips and falls account for over 1 million emergency room visits per year, with most falls happening in the winter months. Don’t think that a southern address will keep the frost away. In 2018, for the first time in 28 years, it snowed in north Florida. Waiting until bad weather to arrive before could leave you…out in the cold.
Make sure you have plenty of ice melt and tools on hand, as well as secure vendor contracts for snow clearing equipment/personnel in advance of a storm forecast. Even if you’ve hired professionals, always make sure your onsite team has the necessary materials and proper training before it’s snow time.
Your property inspection should include your landscape irrigation system. Any damage should be repaired to prevent leaks. If necessary, have your outdoor sprinkler systems turned off when frigid conditions are in the forecast. Wet sidewalks can turn in hazardous quickly.

It’s What’s on the Outside that Counts

Quality inspections of building exteriors should be routine, with a special focus on the roof, walls, and door and window frames. Damaged windows should be repaired to keep the weather out, heat in, and your costs down.
Multifamily Housing Executive suggests having additional insulation installed in all 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. For club rooms, leasing offices and business centers, consider insulated shades and thermal drapes for an elegant option. Install weather stripping and a door sweep on exterior doors for a cheap and easy guard against the elements.
It’s always a great idea to keep gutters clear of any built-up leaves and debris so they drain properly throughout the year but fall and winter months are especially important. Neglected or clogged gutters could lead to leaks or a dangerous accumulation of snow and ice causing more damage to your property and jeopardizing the safety of your residents.
Inspect trees and branches near your property and remove any damaged or weak branches that may not survive the high winds, icy freezes, or snow accumulation of a winter storm.

Stay Warm but Not Too Hot

Inspect all furnaces and boilers to ensure everything is in good working condition, so your staff and your residences don’t experience a system failure when it’s most dangerous and most costly. Clean units and replace damaged or worn parts and install new filters. When possible, keep a supply of commonly used replacement parts and filters on standby.
Likewise, if you have any wood-burning fireplaces on the property, it’s best to have them inspected and cleaned by a professional. When inspecting fireplaces, make sure flue dampers are operating correctly, the chimneys are clear of any obstructions and debris, and there’s no damage where the chimney adjoins with the roof.
As the temperatures start to dip, it’s is a good time for your management team to communicate space-heater safety to all residents. According to National Fire Protection Agency’s latest U.S. Home Fires Involving Heating Equipment report, which was released today, heating equipment is the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires and the third-leading cause of home fire deaths. The US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that each year, an average of 430 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide-related deaths are highest during colder months and are likely due to increased use of gas-powered furnaces and alternative heating, cooking, and power sources used dangerously indoors during power outages.

Don’t Forget about Turkey

There’s something about the cold weather that makes people think about eating turkey. Perhaps it’s the heavenly aroma or the promise of delicious leftover sandwiches, but whatever the reason, there’s no denying the popularity of the bird, as the US consumes over 70 million turkeys between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And for the past few years, deep-fried turkey has become an increasingly popular tradition. But unlike its roasted brethren, the deep-fried turkey can be risky and costly. According to Apartments.com, the single biggest contributor to Thanksgiving fires is the turkey fryer. Frying, in general, is the cooking method that causes the most cooking fires, but turkey fryers are particularly prone to setting things ablaze because they use large quantities of oil at high temperatures. Combine the flammable materials and general lack of experience and you can understand how each year, over $15 million in property damage are caused by deep-fried turkey accidents.

While inspecting your property exteriors and interiors, keep an eye out for grills and fryers on patios and balconies. Inspect all fire extinguishers and make sure all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working condition.

Just like your own doctor’s checkup, Property Inspections are vital to a healthy asset. They not only keep your residents safe and happy, but they also save you money. And good record keeping of your inspections can save you from costly legal messes. At Infotycoon, our award-winning software helps streamline the property inspections process. Our intuitive platform helps you track, document and store your inspections securely without drowning in a sea of paperwork.