RealManage Insight

Winterizing Your HOA Community

by Staff Writer on Dec 10, 2012 5:03:00 PM

Winterization is the process of preparing something to withstand the cold weather of winter. Winterizing a managed community typically begins in early autumn when temperatures remain above the freezing mark. Waiting too late to perform the process often results in the loss of perennial plants, the bursting of water pipes due to freezing, and potential HVAC failure, to name a few. Performing winterization helps a community protect its assets, and avoid paying for certain types of replacements and repairs. Below is a list of winterization measures HOA management companies render as a part of community association management services:

  • Sealing cracks in pavement
  • Insulating pipes in non-insulated environments
  • Draining the water from irrigation systems and fountains
  • Removing dead foliage from gutters and drains
  • Servicing gasoline-powered equipment
  • Treating perennial plants
  • Servicing HVAC Systems
When cracks in sidewalks and parking lots are left unsealed in cold weather, ice gathers in the cracks and expands the pavement. Pipes in non-insulated buildings might also become damaged if they freeze. Just as ice expands cracks in pavement, it expands pipes and causes them to burst. The same problem occurs to pipes in irrigation systems and fountains. However, because they are located underground, and cannot be insulated, these pipes must be drained of water. Fountains that run on warm water year-round are an exception.
On the subject of water, foliage should be removed from gutters and drains to prevent spring rain from flooding yards and streets. If the foliage is removed with a leaf sucker, the equipment should be fueled with a winter mix fuel—a grade of fuel that evaporates faster than summer blend fuel. Other equipment used in autumn and winter should receive a proper fuel change. While winterization measures are performed, perennial plants such as shrubs and rose bushes should be prepared for sub-freezing temperatures. As part of a community association management services package, HOA management companieswill assign a vendor that specializes in landscaping to treat perennial plants.
After a community is ready for winter on the exterior, servicing HVAC systems readies it for winter on the interior. The buildings in most communities are warmed by forced air. To ensure buildings heat properly, an HVAC vendor should replace old air filters, clean air registers and place them in the open position, lubricate oil ports on furnaces, ensure the blades of air distribution fans are free of dust, and check fan belts for signs of wear. In addition to ensuring buildings heat properly, these measures help HVAC systems operate with efficiency.
As HOA management companies know, the key to winterization is planning ahead. If the tasks above are left undone until winter arrives, or not performed whatsoever, the community could have a series of expensive repair bills when spring arrives. Furthermore, residents could experience heating problems in the middle of winter when furnaces work the hardest, and HVAC vendors have difficulty making repairs on short notice. Ideally, a community association management services provider should have winterization measures completed by the middle of October.

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