For some, the winter season means holidays, cozy nights by a warm fire and peaceful walks through gently falling snow. But it can also mean blizzards, bone-chilling temperatures and ice build-up that can wreak havoc on a building’s integrity. It’s an inevitable fact of living in the Upper Midwest: winter is coming. The maintenance duties of condo owners often vary across associations, but depending on your agreement, you may be responsible for many of these tasks. Here are some tips to ensure your home survives the season:
- Before the worst of the cold weather comes through the area, make sure your heating system is up-to-date and functioning. Have a maintenance check done, change the filters and clean your vents to make sure your system is set for the incoming cold weather and isn’t wasting any energy.
- Watch out for exploding pipes. If it is particularly cold, you should consider turning on your faucets intermittently or letting them drip throughout the day to keep water running through the pipe system. Generally, this keeps them in working order and prevents them from freezing and bursting. Also, beware of setting your thermostat too low. It can save you on energy costs, but it also put your pipes in danger.
- Find out if your association has a plan to clean the sidewalks and parking lots around your building. Ice and snow can create dangerous obstacles for visitors and residents, and it is often an association’s responsibility to make sure walkways and lots are properly shoveled and salted. If possible, ice and snow should also be periodically removed from the roof to ensure that it doesn’t collapse under their weight.
- Make sure your gutters are clean. Leaves, dirt and other debris can block gutters and prevent water from traveling to the ground from your roof. This can lead to massive ice build-up that can cause roofs to leak and lead to high repair costs.
- Consider asking a neighbor to check in on your home if you plan on going out of town. If your home suffers any damage due to the cold weather, dealing with the problem as soon as it is discovered can mean a difference of thousands of dollars.
- Have a plan for the worst case scenario. Make sure you have the contact information for maintenance professionals handy. Check and see if your association has a back-up generator in case the power goes out.
There is no such thing as being too prepared. Although the winter months can be long, dreary and difficult, it is all worth it when the snow melts, the sun comes out and spring finally arrives.