Four ways your HOA can prepare for the winter season
With the summer season coming to an end, everyone gets ready to embrace the crisper weather as the seasons turn to fall and then winter. During this period, your homeowner's association (HOA) should be thinking about what changes to make regarding maintenance activities. This preparation will help ensure that all operations continue to run well and that your residents stay safe and happy throughout the colder months.
The following four maintenance tips will help your HOA get ready for the season change:
Go over all landscaping
Winterize your pool and spa
Check your lighting
Start planning your seasonal displays
Below we’ll take a closer look at what each tip entails.
1. Go over all landscaping
The fall weather means extra landscaping preparation because the equipment needs to be winterized. The following are some important landscaping tasks to perform in the fall:
Spraying for weeds and bugs
Performing deep-root fertilizing
Checking all equipment (ex. watering clocks and irrigation systems)
Disconnecting hoses from hose bibs to avoid any freezing
Removing fallen leaves that have collected around drainage areas and bushes
Even if you don’t have a professional landscaper, you can attain the help of an experienced community association management company. They will provide you with referrals to dependable and qualified companies.
2. Winterize your pool and spa
You should always make sure that your pool is inspected before closing it down. The essential pool maintenance you should be performing is:
Checking all pumps and motors, and greasing the pump motor and bearings
Inspecting pipes for any corrosion or leaks
Cleaning, replacing and backwashing your pool filters
Cleaning filter baskets
Draining your pool's filter tank
Draining water from your pool to the level that is recommended by the manufacturer
Storing pool equipment
Much like your landscaping maintenance, you can get many pool maintenance vendor recommendations from a good community association management company.
3. Check your lighting
The fall and winter months bring shorter days. This is why checking your lighting is very important. Look at all light fixtures to ensure they are intact and that all bulbs are fully functioning. Also, check that any emergency lighting is working well.
If the lighting in your community runs on a timer, you need to ensure the time the lights are set to come on has been adjusted to take into account that it gets darker earlier. Lighting set to come on at 9 p.m. in the summer won’t be as helpful in the winter when it’s dark by 6 p.m.
Switching to LED lights is also in your best interest if you have not already made the change. Despite the higher up-front costs, the benefits are plentiful. The switch to LED lights will ultimately save you money in the long run because they last longer while being environmentally friendly.
4. Start planning your seasonal displays
Many community association communities love the fall and winter seasons because it means decorating for the holidays. If yours is one of them, review any plans beforehand with community staff and management. It’s a good idea to form an ad hoc committee to get your decorating ideas off the ground.
Rely on experts to take care of any jobs beyond your capabilities, such as climbing on a roof to put up lights. If you do need outside help, start requesting vendor bids now. Also, be sure to trim any deciduous trees before stringing them with lights to reduce fire risk.
If your community has bylaws around holiday décor that your residents need to follow, now is the time to remind them of what they can and can’t do. You can work with your association manager to determine that right channels to use to get the message out. Sending a reminder early can help your association board limit the number of holiday décor related bylaw infractions you might face.
Choosing the right vendor
The majority of these fall maintenance tasks can be performed by third party vendors. And there are many things to consider when choosing the right vendor for the job. Your association management company can help you find the right fit and will often have a list of approved vendors you can choose from.
In most cases, you aren’t limited to choosing from their list and are welcome to research and find your own vendors. When researching your own vendors, it’s still important to rely on your community manager for support. They can help you streamline the process of searching for vendors and help you come up with the right questions to ask.
The importance of fall maintenance
A lot of what needs to be done in the fall, especially the landscaping and pool maintenance, can be considered preventive maintenance. Things like removing fallen leaves from around drainage or inspecting pool pipes for corrosion and leaks can save your association from bigger hassles in the future.
Taking a deeper look at those examples, if fallen leaves aren’t removed from around drainage and end up causing a blockage, it only takes one downpour to create a bigger mess that is more expensive to fix. When it comes to fall pool maintenance, if you inspect your pipes now and determine there is corrosion and the pipes need to be fixed or replaced, you know to budget for that work to take place ahead of the next pool season. It also allows you to schedule that maintenance with your pool vendor ahead of their busy season, ensuring your pool opens on time for residents to enjoy.
Of course, these fall maintenance procedures need to be budgeted for. Your community association manager can help your board plan for these types of preventive maintenance. In the long run it will help your association save money on costly repairs and budget for future replacements that are unavoidable.
For more on how preventive maintenance can help your association, contact FirstService Residential.