Winter is indeed a beautiful time but the ice and snow that come with it can cause major damage to your community and its residents. As an HOA board member, you want to prepare for winter as best as you can — especially if you live in an area that has harsh winters. If you’re not sure how to proceed, here are key steps to take to winterize an HOA community.
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How to Winterize HOA Community: 10 Key Steps to Take
It takes a lot of time and effort to prepare your community for winter. While most of the preparation may take place right before winter starts, the HOA board should keep in mind that there are also key steps that should be done even months before. Here are 9 ways to begin winterizing your HOA.
1. Insulate Your Pipes
Frozen pipes are one of the major maintenance concerns of HOAs come wintertime. Due to colder temperatures, water pipes can freeze, crack, or burst — resulting in significant water damage to your property. So, to winterize your community, make sure to insulate your pipes before temperatures begin to drop.
You can use a variety of materials to insulate your pipes such as pipe sleeves, pipe foam, fiberglass, and heating tape. These materials supply heat to the pipes to prevent them from freezing. This will prevent water interruptions from frozen pipes during winter as well as potentially expensive repairs after winter due to burst or damaged pipes.
2. HOA Snow Removal Services
Snow removal is one of the convenient services that residents expect from their HOA during winter. It’s important to clear roads and walkways of snow and ice to prevent accidents. And so, it’s important to iron out the details with your snow-removal service way before the first snowflake falls.
Check if there is an existing contract between the HOA and a snow removal company. If there is an option to renew, think about whether your vendor’s performance the previous year. Is the HOA satisfied with that? If not, it’s time to look for a better snow removal company — and one that will fit into the HOA’s current budget. Make sure that the HOA is also adequately stocked with snow removal products such as salt, magnesium, sand, and chloride.
3. Conduct a Full Inspection of Appliances
To prepare for winter, the HOA should conduct a full inspection of its HVAC, boiler/furnace, water heater, and other appliances. This can be done as soon as summer is over but must be done before the arrival of winter.
Have a licensed professional look at your appliances to see if they are in good working condition.
Some appliances may have been overworked during the summer. If there are any leaks, emissions, cracks, or other damages, you will need adequate time to have them repaired. Ensuring that these appliances are working properly will lower heating costs and save the association some money. Moreover, it also eliminates safety hazards that can cause significant damage to your property or serious harm to your residents.
4. Prepare Your Roof for Winter
The HOA is responsible for winterizing the roof of common areas such as the clubhouse, covered courts, and the HOA office. Have a professional inspect the roof for missing shingles, cracks, and other signs of damage. You will want to repair these elements to minimize the impact of heavy snow. Make sure to clean the gutters and downspouts to avoid drainage issues. Proper roof maintenance is also essential to prevent ice dams from forming during winter.
5. Seal Cracks in Building Exteriors
Inspect building exteriors for signs of cracks or structural damage. Have these cracks sealed before winter. Otherwise, water can seep in, freeze, and expand. This can make your cracks worse and weaken the structural integrity of the building. You also want to seal cracks to prevent pests from coming inside your building to escape the cold.
6. Seal Cracks in Pavements
Similar to cracks in your buildings, cracks in paved walkways, roads, and basketball courts will become worse if water seeps in and freezes. After winter, you will be left with bigger cracks or potholes.
So, it’s much better to have these cracks sealed before winter rather than having to deal with expensive repairs later on.
7. Weather Strip Doors and Windows
Weatherstripping doors and windows will prevent cold air from coming inside your property. By sealing the cracks around doors and windows, you can lower heating costs. The HOA may also consider adding denser curtains to windows to increase heating efficiency.
8. Winterize the Swimming Pool
HOAs that experience frigid temperatures will have to close their swimming pools during the winter. It’s important to winterize your swimming pool to prevent the dropping temperatures from causing any damage.
Contact your pool maintenance service so that they can clear debris from the water, regulate chemical levels, clean pool filters, lower water level, apply treatment to prevent algae, apply antifreeze to pool components, and then cover the pool.
9. Drain Irrigation System, Store Landscaping Equipment
Similar to your water pipes, your irrigation system can also freeze and burst due to freezing temperatures. Make sure to drain water from the sprinkler heads, disconnect hoses, insulate exterior faucets, and cover exposed pipes with a tarp. If you have gasoline-powered lawnmowers and other landscaping equipment, drain the fuel and store them in a heated area.
10. Keep Homeowners Informed
While the HOA is only responsible for winterizing common areas, the board should still educate residents on how they can winterize their own homes. After all, the goal is to keep the entire community safe during winter.
The HOA can host a seminar that teaches the homeowners all the important steps they need to take to protect their homes from winter-related damages. You can also include winter tips in your newsletters as well as send reminders via email or text to prepare your residents for winter.
An HOA Winterizing Checklist for Your Community
There are so many things to keep in mind when winterizing your HOA. Here’s a handy checklist that HOA board members can use so that they won’t forget the important steps to take before, during, and after winter.
- Check the roof for leaks
- Seal cracks in walls or foundation
- Clean gutter and downspouts
- Clean clutter outside building/s
- Seal cracks in paved walkways, roads basketball courts, tennis courts
- Winterize swimming pool
- Drain and cover irrigation systems
- Contact vendor for snow removal services
- Conduct a full inspection of HVAC, boiler, and other appliances
- Insulate water pipes
- Seal cracks in doors and windows
- Check the attic for leaks
Why You Need to Winterize?
With these 10 steps to winterize an HOA community, the board will be able to protect the HOA’s properties as well as ensure the safety of its residents. Though some of these steps may seem exhaustive and costly, they are nothing compared to the damage that heavy snow and freezing temperatures can bring. So, as long as your community adequately prepares for winter, there’s no need to fear the cold weather at all.
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