Perform 11 Maintenance Tasks to Get Your Site Ready for Winter
You and your maintenance staff have different issues to tackle during each season of the year. In the fall, most sites need to prepare for winter. But because some of the things that should be on your “to do” list for fall haven’t been done in an entire year, it’s easy to forget all the things you need to do.
Here’s a checklist that you can use to remind yourself of all the things you and your maintenance staff need to do this fall to get your site ready for winter.
 Check exteriors and do painting touch-ups. Fall is a great time to touch up the paint around your site. Check to see if items like signs, parking lot stripes, curbs, and outdoor trash areas need to be painted to protect them from winter weather damage. Also, your building’s exterior is the first line of defense against the winter elements. If you are aware of any places where the exterior has been damaged or is leaking, address those spots first. Then, replace or re-apply building sealant and caulking to all doors and windows that look like they need it.
 Repair sidewalks, if necessary. Walk around your site and inspect the sidewalks for cracks and holes. Winter can be very hard on concrete and asphalt, so patch any cracks you find before the weather gets cold enough to freeze. Once moisture freezes in the cracks, you’ll find the problem getting worse and worse every day.
 Get rid of birds’ nests. Believe it or not, birds’ nests can cause major maintenance headaches. Birds often build their nests in out-of-the-way places like roof eaves and dryer vents. Nests on eaves can cause drainage problems and roof leaks; nests in dryer vents may create a fire hazard. So to be on the safe side, give your site a thorough inspection in the fall to locate and remove any nests built over the spring and summer.
 Stock up on light bulbs. With fall come additional hours of darkness, which means that both interior lights as well as outdoor lights will be used for longer periods of time. So make sure you have plenty of interior and exterior replacement light bulbs on hand.
 Wrap pipes, cover HVAC lines. Wrap pipes in common areas, especially those in exterior walls or in colder parts of the building. There are many products you can use from self-sealing foam tubes to insulation-providing tape. Make certain that all HVAC lines are covered properly. Your landscapers may have damaged the pipe insulation with their lawn mowers or grass trimmers over the summer.
 Disconnect hoses, turn off outside water supply. If your site is located in a very cold climate, be sure to disconnect all water hoses from the outside faucets in the fall. If left outside during the winter, water in the hoses can freeze and cause the hoses to crack, making them useless for next year. Also, turn off the water supply to your outside faucets. During the winter, cold air can get into the faucet and freeze any water left in the pipes, which may result in a broken water line. As an extra precaution, you may want to cover your outside faucets with an insulating cap or cover.
 Clean gutters. In the fall, these systems can easily become clogged with leaves, leading to poor or non-existent drainage during the wettest seasons of the year. This, in turn, can lead to leaks, load-bearing problems of accumulating snow, and dangerous icicles. Make sure all drainage systems are clear, and continue checking them periodically through the fall and winter seasons.
 Clean chimneys. If you have any wood-burning fireplaces on the site, it’s best to have them inspected and cleaned by a professional chimney sweep. Make sure the flue damper is operating correctly, the chimney is clear of any obstructions, and there’s no damage where the chimney adjoins with the roof.
 Perform furnace and boiler maintenance. Whether your building has central or in-unit utilities, they should be checked and overhauled before the true cold conditions arrive. Clean units and replace parts and filters as needed. What is a minor nuisance in the summer, such as no hot water, can be a truly unpleasant experience in the midst of winter. Calling in emergency repair services will also not be light on the pocketbook, so plan ahead and make sure your heating appliances are fit to last another season.
 Prepare for snow removal needs. Before the first snow falls is the best time to make sure you have a snow removal contract in place for winter. You don’t want to be caught off guard by an early snowfall and have no snow removal contractor to call. Also make sure your site is fully stocked with sand and salt so you can take care of parking lots, sidewalks, and stairs, for example, after winter storms.
 Make appropriate landscaping changes. Once fall arrives, you’ll also have to deal with the changing needs of your site’s landscaping. Flowerbeds need to be cut down and turned, and bulbs need to be fed. You also need to prune your bushes and cut back your perennials. Also check for and remove any damaged trees or weak branches that may not survive the high winds, icy freezes, or snow accumulation of a winter storm. Fallen or blown tree limbs could damage property or cause injury.