Fall’s here – Don’t get left out in the cold Now that fall has arrived, it’s time to start preparing your rental property
for the winter. It seems that winter storms are becoming more destructive every year. Every landlord and property manager should be doing what needs to be done to protect against building and property damage for extremely cold temperatures, high winds, heavy snow and ice build-up, and other hazards associated with harsh winter weather. Spending the time, energy, and resources to prepare your rental property in the fall can mean cost savings down the road, and extending the life of your building and its components. RHB Magazine contacted several industry professionals on some of the best practices for protecting rental properties against winter-related weather issues.
Parking lots and underground parking structures Canadian winters can do a serious number on asphalt and concrete surfaces, especially parking lots and garages. Freeze-thaw cycles and excessive salting can create massive potholes, walking and driving hazards, and structural damage. Preventive maintenance can save money for building owners, and protect tenants’ vehicles from unnecessary damage. Anthony Taylor, Director of Sales, Lincoln Construction Group, provided key strategies for maintaining parking lots and underground parking structures. 1. Patch and repair potholes. By tending to potholes before the winter, you can mitigate the chances of ice patches and trip hazards for your property’s employees, tenants, and guests. 2. Seal and crack fill. Sealing cracks will reduce your parking lot foundation’s exposure to the elements. The freezing and thawing temperatures allow the water that seeps through the cracks to erode your foundation, which can result in potholes. 3. Hire a reputable snow removal contractor. Finding a reliable snow removal company can make all the difference during our Canadian winters. Clear and hazard-free
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properties can see the benefits of increased safety for your guests, productivity, and minimized accident risks.
Building envelope The building envelope has to stand up to all types of weather all year long. Snow, ice, and wind can have a cumulative effect on many different building components, some of which cannot be seen on the surface. Doing a thorough check of these elements in the fall, and following key maintenance strategies, can protect against short- and long-term winterrelated damage. Dave Moore, Project Principal, Vice President, Pretium Engineering Inc., provided a number of key strategies for protecting and maintaining different parts of the building envelope.
Foundation walls: 1. Fix the grading around the foundation. Raise the height of the grading around the foundation walls where settled to promote drainage away from the building, and reduce the risk of leakage and deterioration. 2. Check roof downpipes/troughs. Make sure that they are clear, connected, and directing water away from the building. 3. Apply de-icing chemicals. Use urea or calcium magnesium acetate de-icing chemicals; avoid use of calcium and sodium chlorides, which can accelerate deterioration of concrete and masonry at grade level.
Exterior walls: 1. Prepare air conditioning units. Properly winterize through-the-wall air conditioner sleeves with insulation and air sealing measures, and remove air conditioner units from windows. 2. Identify signs of deterioration. Look for wetting patterns, efflorescence (salt deposits), and deterioration below the corners of metal window sill flashings; install drip deflectors at ends of window sills to promote water flow over sills. 3. Install metal drip flashings. Place them over brick window sills and at top of masonry walls without flashings.
Windows and doors: 1. Examine weather stripping. Regularly replace worn and damaged weather stripping at door and operable window perimeters to control air leakage and drafts. 2. Check all vents. Ensure that supply heating vents are open and clear of obstruction so warm air can flow over window and door surfaces to reduce condensation during cold temperatures. 3. Check windows and doors. Avoid leaving windows and doors open during cold weather; use other means of ventilation (i.e., kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans) when an apartment does not have an automatic mechanical ventilation system.
Flat roofs: 1. Remove debris & vegetation at roof drains. Remove debris at the level of the waterproofing membrane. 2. Check roofing system. Have a qualified contractor and/or consultant assess the condition of the roofing system every year or two. 3. Maintain warranty. If the roof has recently been replaced, ensure regular warranty inspections are performed to maintain warranty.
Sloped roofs and attic spaces: 1. Check level of insulation. Consider adding to existing thickness of insulation.
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2. Examine all venting. Check that adequate venting at soffit and roof vents is provided and that soffit baffles are not blocked by insulation. Proper venting will extend life of asphalt shingles and reduce risk of ice damming. 3. Add downpipe extensions. Install downpipe extensions from upper to lower roofs to avoid accelerated shingle deterioration from increased water runoff and ice damage.
Heating, ventilation, and cooling Your building’s HVAC systems are essential for keeping tenants warm and comfortable during the winter. They are expensive to replace, and an unexpected breakdown can have serious repercussions. Staying on top of HVAC maintenance will ensure that they function properly and last as long as possible, while keeping maintenance and replacement costs in check. Ed Porasz, P.Eng., President, M&E Engineering, provided basic strategies for preparing and protecting your building’s HVAC system for the winter. 1. Check your boilers now. Start your boilers before the weather turns cold. 2. Shut down chiller. Book the shutdown of your chiller and cooling tower now, so that it can be done in a reasonable timeframe. Ensure that you drain or winterize your cooling tower. 3. Do an electrical scan. Complete an electrical infrared scan on all major electrical panels, disconnects, and switchgear, as electrical loads are higher in the winter months.
Conclusion Make sure that you follow best practices in the fall to prepare your rental properties before winter arrives. Doing so will help with maintaining the key components of your building and equipment, and help to extend their useful lives. You will also reduce the costs of having to hire the aforementioned professionals to do the maintenance and repair of these building components. By David Gargaro
RHB, RHB Magazine, Fall, Preparing for winter