The 2015-16 edition of the Farmers’ Almanac includes a good news/bad news weather forecast for Ohio. The good news is that the fall is expected to be longer and milder than normal. But the bad news is that the winter is expected to be similar to last year – in the publication’s words, “snow filled and frigid.”
I’m sure that you will recall how last year’s harsh winter impacted real estate, including ice dams, frozen pipes and a seemingly continuous battle to keep drives and sidewalks clear of ice and snow. This month, we will discuss some of the things that can be done now to help minimize properly-related issues in the months ahead.
Parking Lots & Sidewalks Winter weather is especially hard on walk ways and parking lots. Not only do these areas have to endure continual freezing and thawing but also scraping and corrosive chemicals. Before the snow and ice starts to fly, take some time to thoroughly clean these areas, paying particular attention to drains and catch basins, and inspect the entire area for damages. Any smaller cracks and crevices should be filled and any larger issues should be repaired or replaced. Take some time to secure contracts for snow clearing early and prepare any snow removal equipment for the upcoming season. Finally, fall is a great time to stock up on salt or ice melt, before demand drives the prices up.
Landscaping Although nature certainly takes its course with plants and landscaping during the winter, there are some things we can do to help things along. Inspect and prune plants and prepare them for winter by fertilizing, keeping in mind to protect from any potential salt or chemical exposure. Similarly, prepare lawns for winter by aerating and fertilizing. Fall is considered the best time to reseed or replant a lawn but be sure to do this early enough to allow for germination. Mark any areas that are exposed to snow plows with flags or poles. Finally, repair and winterize any irrigation systems that may be in place.
Roof and Structure Similar to parking lots and sidewalks, the exterior envelop is also subject to the full brunt of winter. Take some time to inspect all areas, paying particular attention to exterior window and door frames, the gutter system and valleys and penetrations in the roofing system. Caulk, fill or otherwise repair any gaps, cracks or damaged areas, keeping in mind that water and ice can work their way into all sorts of areas. Any areas of bare wood should be painted, treated or otherwise covered. Finally, remove any built up leaves or debris from the roof and gutter system.
Building Systems The transition from hot weather to cold weather also causes a transition in a property’s systems. Before the weather turns cold, clean and service the heating system, replacing any parts, belts and filters as needed. Heat via natural gas is prevalent in our region. Natural gas prices continue to be depressed, so now would be a good time to evaluate energy contracts. But all of the attention shouldn’t be focused on the heating system. Although the cooling system won’t be needed for several months, fall is a great time to prepare it for winter and ensure that it is in good working order next spring. Clean air conditioning coils, inspect the system for any damages and complete any items needed to winterize this part of the system. The plumbing system should also be included in your inspection. Wrap or otherwise insulate any pipes susceptible to freezing and drain any exterior faucets.
Interior Although a property’s exterior is directly impacted, winter weather also affects the interior. Inspect the areas around the inside frames of exposed windows and doors and insulate or repair any cracks or gaps. Snow, slush and salt can be very damaging to interior flooring so considering installing heavier mats in entry areas. The shorter days of winter put greater importance on lighting, so replace any faulty lighting, paying extra attention to entry areas.
Few of us are actually looking forward to subfreezing temperatures and heavy snowfall. But taking some extra time now can make the coming winter much more tolerable for your property. Ira Krumholz