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Gearing Up for Spring Maintenance

Here it comes again—spring is just around the corner. Days are getting longer, the snow and ice are finally gone, and it’s time to put things back in order.

Whether you’re responsible for apartments, townhomes, condominiums or commercial properties, there’s plenty to do. If you find yourself having trouble prioritizing your list, look at the property as if you were getting ready to sell it.

Inside and outside too

Check the hallways of your property for damage, clean the carpets and be sure all emergency lights are working. Change smoke detector batteries and do a visual check of the fire alarm and sprinkler systems in advance of a visit from the local inspector—it’s easier on everyone when you find and fix problems beforehand. 

While you’re at it, check for broken fixtures and burned out bulbs. Be sure to write down details of the replacements you need and snap a photo just in case. Check the exterior lighting for burned out bulbs and reset timers to account for the longer days.

A surprising amount of dirt and debris accumulates on windowsills, both inside and outside. It’s something patrons and residents notice, so make sure your team has the tools to clean sills right, including spray bottles of degreasing cleaners and different sizes and shapes of scrapers. Metal is the most durable kind of scraper, but you might want to get plastic scrapers as well, depending on the sill material.

How are your window screens? At the very least, they’ll need a good pressure washing. Start early so you can find or replace any screens that have blown away or been damaged. Special tools, repair kits and rolls of screening material are available if you prefer to repair damaged screens on your own.

Look for loose siding, whether it’s vinyl or aluminum. You can reattach it before the wind tears it off, which would save a more costly repair or replacement. Also, check around windows and doors for missing caulk. Fill in gaps now to avoid damage from wind-blown rain. 
 
Don’t wait too long to begin repairing lawn damage that occurred during the winter months. As you walk around the property, be sure to list any areas where the landscaping needs repair. Taking a photo will help as you’re writing things down back in the office. 

Check for tree damage, too, and clear out broken branches. Be sure your staff has the right tools for the job and that they’re sharp—clean cuts are better for trees and shrubs and make it easier for your crew to do a good job quickly.

It’s also a good time to check parking areas. Do you need to touch up or repaint curbs in fire lanes and no-parking areas? What about signage repair or replacement? Are there oil spills you should attend to? Your supplier can help make sure you’re equipped with the right products. 

Don’t forget to check the mailboxes as well. A few bags of concrete mix are usually all it takes to reset a group mailbox loosened by plowed snow.

Check balconies and railings—your crew may be able to get an early start on small painting or replacement projects. Meanwhile, you’ll have an updated list of work needed later in the year. Also look closely at your garbage corral, if applicable. These enclosures often take a beating over the winter, but the repairs and touch-up painting required might be another project your staff can handle easily.

Water, water, everywhere

There’s no getting around it—spring is the season for water problems.

•    Drainage: The ground surface should always be pitched away from the building. Look for low areas alongside the foundation; settlement happens over time, and when it does the ground needs to be built up.

•    Downspouts: Make sure your gutters and downspouts are still connected and that the bottom end of the downspouts hasn’t been knocked off over the winter. With good grading, an elbow and a splash block may be all it takes to move rainwater in the right direction, but make sure they are still in place. Extensions are available to direct the discharge farther from the structure; you might even want to consider installing an underground PVC drain with a popup drainage emitter. Remember, though, that when cleaning gutters and downspouts connected to an underground drain, the underground portion should be cleaned as well. A long snake should be a big help.

•    Gutters: They offer another place where rainwater can back up with even a little blockage. Spring cleaning is a good idea here too. Even though your gutters and downspouts may have been cleaned during the fall, leaves, twigs and other debris accumulate quickly. You might want to install gutter guards before the trees start their spring round of dropping things.

•    Roof drains and scuppers: If your building has a flat roof, be sure to check that all of the drains are open. Do this as early as you can and throughout the year.

•    Leaks: They happen. Have buckets available and once they are set, try to find where the water is coming from. It may stem from a backup of melting ice and snow and just stop on its own. Or you might need roof repairs. Make a note of when and where the leaks are, then watch for them again in the same locations. 

•    Sump pumps: Make sure they’re working. The pit should be clear of debris and unclogged. If you have battery backup, check that the batteries are still good.

•    Sump discharge: It should be at least 2 feet from the building and drain away from it. All too often there has been settlement next to the foundation, and the sump discharge runs back toward the building and right back into the sump. That’s the bad kind of recycling.

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