annual process of preparing buildings, and their surrounding sites, for
the onset of sustained inclement weather. A form of time-based maintenance captured
in a winterization
is the annual process of preparing buildings, their components and the
surrounding sites for the onset of sustained inclement weather. There
are two general categories of winterization:
this article we focus our attention on occupied winterization. In light
of the old adage that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of
cure”, the purpose of a winterization program is:
seasonal shut down, for vacated buildings, where the property is not
utilized by people or heated throughout the winter season.
measures for occupied buildings and sites, which continue to operate
during the winter season and are exposed to normal patterns of activity.
includes the implementation of site-specific measures to protect
against various influencing elements, including the actions of the
wind, rain, snow, ice, freezing temperatures, vegetation, people, and
- To protect
the owners' investment by mitigating deterioration of the vulnerable
components during the winter months.
keep all critical systems operational without wasting energy due to
excessive infiltration and exfiltration through the building envelope.
- To ensure
that the facility remains comfortable, functional and safe for the
occupants and their guests.
Those who are tasked with having to establish a winterization program
should consider the following five steps.
Identify Historical Problem Areas
building has a few vulnerable features that tend to be problematic
every winter. A significant amount of time is generally devoted to
these recurring problems. It is therefore helpful to prompt our
memories by asking the following types of questions:
HOA Board members, the property manager, and service contractors are
good resources for assistance in identifying these recurring historical
issues. The Association’s attention should initially be focused on
these problem areas.
- Which roof
drains tend to get blocked more often than others?
- Where did
the gutters previously leak?
- Where do the
pathways sometimes become slippery and/or full of ponded water?
Determine the Extent of Deferred Summer Maintenance
to budget constraints, some Associations may have been unable to carry
out all of the required maintenance during the preceding season. It is
therefore necessary to keep a current catalogue of the accumulated
deferred maintenance and to understand how to prioritize this backlog
of outstanding work. Ask the following types of questions:
all maintenance is 'important', not everything is 'urgent' at any one
time. Skill is required to differentiate between those items that are
discretionary and those that must not be postponed, particularly with
- What is the
condition of the sealant on the windows, doors, walls and roof?
- Did we
repair all the cracks and potholes in the asphalt roadways?
- Did we
clearance prune the trees away from the roofs and walls?
the winter servicing of our heating equipment (such as boilers and heat
pumps) included as part of an annual maintenance contract?
- When was the
last time the roof drains were inspected and cleaned?
members should seek advice from their community manager and others for
guidance on how to quantify and prioritize the maintenance backlog to
achieve the three winterization objectives mentioned earlier.
Recognize the Unique 'Personality' of
requirements vary from place-to-place, depending on factors such as
local climates, topography, native soils, vegetation and water
table. Winterization also varies from building-to-building,
depending on factors such as architectural features and space heating
systems. These factors determine the frequency and type of
maintenance activities and leads to the following types of
- Which parts
of our building are difficult to access for maintenance and sometimes
- Which sides
of our building are most exposed to wind driven rain?
- Where are
the splash zones when water spills over the roof or other projections?
- Do our trees
shed leaves onto our roofs and accumulate in the gutters at particular
- Which are
the high traffic locations where snow clearing is most important?
alternative traffic patterns do vehicles and pedestrians adopt when
snow/ice accumulates on roadways, walkways and at perimeter doors?
- In which
direction does storm water drain off the site?
- What type of
heating system do we have (electric, hydronic, forced air, heat pumps,
temperature sensitive HVAC, plumbing and fire sprinkler systems and
components do we have that is subject to freezing or cold weather
exterior doors and/or locks are susceptible to changes in alignment,
shrinkage, stiffening and other reduced operation during lower outdoor
Understand the Community's Role in Winterization.
A good winterization program can be easily undermined by a lack of care
on the part of some residents. The community plays both a direct and
indirect role in the winterization program, which is evidenced by the
following types of questions:
includes checklists of the things that “must be done” to keep the
facility in good working order (such as inspecting, cleaning,
lubricating, and refastening). "Care", on the other hand, contemplates
things that “must be avoided” in order to protect the facility from
accidental damage (such as damage to balcony membranes from snow
shovels or nailing of Christmas lights into the siding). The
Association is primarily responsible for the former and the individual
owners are primarily responsible for the latter.
- Have we set
up service contracts, or made other appropriate arrangements, for snow
clearing, drain cleaning, etc?
- Have we
issued a reminder notice to our residents regarding outdoor hose bib
shutoff, storage of seasonal furniture, etc?
- Have we made
arrangements to have the sprinkler irrigation system shutdown?
supplies do we need to keep on site, such as ice melt, snow shovels,
Utilize the Available Resources.
than “reinventing the wheel” each winter, the HOA should try to make
full use of all available resources. There are many good
contractors who can assist with winter maintenance and there are some
published reference guides available through the Community Association
Institute. At the end of this article we have also provided a
winterization checklist for general reference purposes.
Fig. Seasonal maintenance program represented by system.
Fig. Seasonal maintenance including winterizations and summerization activities.