It’s a well-known fact that Chicagoans are tough. But even the bravest among us shivers just a little bit when the first signs of winter settle over the city. Winter and the inevitable snow and ice that accompany it take their toll not only on the people of Chicago but on the places in which we live. From high rises to townhouses to the community association bungalows, every home must be protected against the onslaught of winter weather that can damage pipes, roofs, windows and sidewalks. For the men and women whose job it is to make sure that damage is minimalor—ideally—non-existent, preparations start early and require and ongoing vigilance.
Getting Ahead of the Curve
With the right preparation, however, winter need not wreak too much havoc. It’s all about just being ready. “Each season places different demands on a facilities system, some more so than others,” says Patrick Kennelly, CEO of Phoenix Rising Management Group, Ltd., in Chicago. “The (winterizing) process should be ongoing annually. Development of checklists and operations schedules are routine management services to ensure the facility is operating efficiently. It’s no different than taking your vehicle in for an oil change. The building systems need to be inspected, cleaned, filters replaced, parts oiled and other parts repaired or replaced.”
It is key not to wait until the first frosts hit before tackling winter projects. “If management begins the process in the winter months, it is unlikely the building will be properly positioned to operate efficiently and safely for the residents and avoid unnecessarily high energy bills,” Kennelly says.
Kennelly also suggests getting residents in on the process through education and ongoing conversations about the importance of winter maintenance and care. “Communication with the ownership year round is important to ensure they know to drain private deck or balcony spigots, clear any roof drains, not use metal shovels or spread salt on roof or deck surfaces,” he says. For some residents, the home they are living in now may be their first so it can be helpful to let them know what should be done and when it should be done. And for long-time residents, friendly reminders can be equally helpful.
“It is always helpful to send out and post a simple reminder to homeowners to take care of the basics,” Kennelly adds. “By taking a few easy, proactive steps, the association can spare itself tremendous expense and grief when the heavy weather hits.”