Summer 2016 will go down as one of the warmest in recent memory, but shorter days and cooler nights remind us that winter is right around the corner. This month, we are going to discuss some of the things that can be done now in preparation for the cold, wind and snow that lies just ahead.
HVAC Systems. The transition from cooling the interior environment to heating it creates a few needs. First, the heating system should be tested and prepared for the coming season. Depending on the type of system, this can include changing filters, checking belts or draining and refilling water tanks/supply lines. For more sophisticated systems, it may involve adjusting temperature monitoring/control systems. Don’t forget about supplemental heating units, such as electric units sometimes found in entrances, gas units that may be above exterior dock or drive in doors, etc. Second, the cooling system should be checked for any high wear areas, properly shut down and if necessary, winterized. This is particularly important after the long, hot summer that the Cleveland area just endured. A little extra attention now can pay huge dividends when the cooling system is called on again next spring. If the facility has a backup generator, make sure that it is in good operating repair. Finally, be sure to thoroughly inspect any vacant/ unoccupied units, as there may be some latent issues that a normal walk-though won’t detect.
Landscaping. Fall is a great time to repair the wear and tear associated with a dry, hot summer. The soil will still be warm for several weeks with sunny, but cooler days alternating with increased chances of rain. Lawns should be aerated, fertilized and over seeded and plantings should be fertilized, pruned and prepared for winter. Irrigation systems need to checked, drained and winterized, as do any exterior water faucets and any water features, such as fountains, pools or waterfalls. Catch basins and drains should be cleaned of any trash and leaves that may have collected to ensure proper drainage.
Snow & Ice Planning. Forecasters tell us that we are in for a heavy snow season this year. Now is the time to evaluate what worked last year and what should be adjusted. Think about things like the location and configuration of plow piles, any trouble areas in the parking lots and walkways and any changes that have been made to ingress/egress or landscaping that will necessitate the need to change the snow and ice removal process. Inspect the lots and walkways for cracks and broken or missing surfaces. Take steps to remove trip hazards that may be hidden by snow and ice. If equipment and/or supplies are stored on site, make sure those areas are cleared and ready to accommodate.
Exterior envelope. A harsh winter can quickly turn a minor exterior issue into a major headache. Gutter and roof drainage systems are especially susceptible, so make sure that these systems are sound and intact, free of debris and properly performing their intended function. Exterior cracks should also be addressed with particular attention to window and door openings and framing. The doors themselves should also be inspected, including sweepers and proper alignment and closing. Check to ensure that any weep holes are not clogged. Roofs can be a very broad topic, but pay particular attention to any penetrations and areas of flashing and/or valleys, as these are the most likely spots to have issues. Fall is also a great time to address pest issues, especially bee or wasp nests that may have taken up residence in the structure. Shorter days mean an increased need for exterior lighting, so now is a great time to replace any lighting fixtures and adjust your light timers.
Interior. The transition to wet, sloppy weather can be taxing on interiors and require heavier-duty carpets and mats at main entry points. Similar to snow and ice planning, fall is a great to re-assess what worked during the last winter season and what may need to be adjusted in terms of interior cleaning and preventative maintenance. The shorter days will put increased importance not just on exterior lighting but also on interior lighting. Be sure that the fixtures are in good working order. Don’t forget about interior garages or parking areas. In addition to lighting, a good cleaning will help reduce the dust and dirt that may have collected during the warmer months and prepare for the sloppy season that lies ahead.
While the list of needs heading into winter may seem daunting, preparation and planning now will go a long way once the snow starts flying and the temperatures start falling. Ira Krumholz CPM