Are your clients’ homeowner associations (HOA) prepared for winter? If you’re an HOA manager who works in a cold climate, falling temperatures and inclement weather can introduce new challenges. Winter storms can cause property damage, interrupt services, and create many problems for HOAs and their residents.
To ensure that your clients make it through the winter without issues, you’ll need to help the HOA with winter maintenance. So start tracking the weather and get ready to assist the association with snow-proofing and rain-proofing. With the right maintenance plan in place, life in the HOA’s community can continue uninterrupted.
Give your HOA clients and their residents’ peace of mind for the winter, so they can enjoy a cozy night-in without worrying about problems caused by the cold. Here are our top six winter maintenance tips for HOAs.
Tip #1. Schedule Snow Removal in Advance
First, schedule snow removal before the first storms of the season. This is a crucial part of HOA winterization. Look at the HOA’s budget to determine how many funds are available for spending on snow plowing, road salting, and removing snow from rooftops.
Then, check the weather forecast. If meteorologists are anticipating an extra snowy season, you may need to advise the board to draw from the HOA’s reserve fund. Don’t skimp on these services. Too much snow can damage properties and create safety hazards for the community.
If your client’s HOA already has a snow removal service in their vendor directory, schedule their services in advance based on weather estimates. (Note: The snow removal service will most likely be prepared to accommodate you with its own recommended schedule.)
If the client doesn’t have an existing vendor, or they were unhappy with their service from the previous season, spend time finding a new snow removal service to hire. Ask for recommendations from other vendors or go online for reviews. Make sure that the service provider includes everything you need for your client’s HOA, including winter road maintenance.
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Tip #2. Inspect HVAC
HVAC is short for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. These systems maintain indoor climate control, ensuring that every building is hospitable and welcoming. In winter months, HVAC can also be a matter of safety. If indoor temperatures dip to extreme lows, it can be dangerous to occupants.
This means it’s imperative that all HVAC systems in your client’s HOA community are in perfect working order. As with snow removal services, inspect the community’s HVAC before the cold snap hits. After all, you don’t want your clients to discover that their heating system doesn’t work in the middle of a freezing blizzard!
HVAC systems can include furnaces and central heat, which are obviously the most relevant systems for the HOA’s winter maintenance. In late fall, hire an HVAC repair company to inspect the heating in all of the HOA’s common areas, such as lobbies, athletic facilities, laundry rooms, and shared parking garages.
You can also alert residents that HVAC repair is coming, so they can submit online work orders for broken heating to your CINC Systems web portal ahead of time.
Tip #3. Prepare the HOA’s Pipe System
If you’re managing an HOA in a region where temperatures can dip to freezing levels, make pipes a high priority for winter maintenance. When water freezes, it can wreak havoc on pipes and sewage systems.
Repairing the damage from frozen pipes can be a huge expense. Help your clients avoid this by implementing the following:
- Drain water from sprinkler systems. You won’t be watering the lawn or shrubs on the HOA’s property, so protect the sprinkler system by draining the water and turning it off. Make sure any outdoor faucets or showers are also disabled for the winter.
- Drain and seal off outdoor pools. Dealing with a frozen swimming pool is a headache that no HOA manager should have to handle, not to mention the damage that ice can cause to a pool.
- Add insulation to exterior pipes. If there are any exposed pipes on the HOA’s property, protect them with thermal padding and/or tarps to keep them from freezing.
- Make sure attics, basements, and storage areas are well-heated. Even if these areas aren’t frequently visited by residents, they may contain crucial piping systems for the association’s buildings. Make sure the heat stays on in these areas.
Tip #4. Plan for Power Outages
Nothing’s worse than a power outage in the middle of a big winter storm. Although you can’t anticipate a power outage, you can help your clients prepare. This is especially important for HOAs located in regions that receive heavy snowfall, as well as HOAs with a large population of seniors.
If it’s in the winter budget, acquire backup generators and battery-powered heaters for the HOA’s common areas. We also recommend preparing emergency supplies. Pack several kits with flashlights and batteries, blankets, first aid supplies, and portable hand/foot heating packs.
Make sure these emergency kits are easily available in the HOA’s common areas so residents can access them during a power outage.
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Tip #5. Inspect Roofs and Building Exteriors
Another important tip for HOA winter maintenance is building inspection. Rainstorms and snowfall can cause severe damage to buildings that aren’t properly sealed and insulated. They can also cause inconveniences for residents.
We recommend hiring a general contractor to examine the HOA’s rooftops for leaks and look at building exteriors to make sure all common areas are properly sealed. Repairing a small leak or a gap in a window will be much easier than recovering from the damage caused by flooding or other weather-related problems.
Tip #6. Keep Residents Informed
Finally, you can help your clients make sure their HOA runs smoothly during winter months by keeping residents informed. Be sure to disperse information about snowplow schedules, inspections, and emergency protocols in advance of any storms. You can also issue severe weather alerts so residents can prepare their own homes.
Using the CINC Systems association management platform, you can create a resident web portal and post this information online. To see how CINC can help your association management business, click here to request a free demo.