Another Chicago winter has crept up on us! Luckily, fall is the best time to prepare your property for the winter with a bit of maintenance. Here at Lofty, we feel it is better to be proactive now than to have a possible emergency issue arise when winter really shows up to get it done. For your benefit, we took the liberty of putting together a list of pre-winter to-do’s that are widely considered to be standard home maintenance, but easily overlooked.
The Great Outdoors
Nothing battles the elements of winter more than the exterior of your property. Inspect for any leaks or cracks throughout spring, summer and fall. If identified, these should take precedent to repair because water can and will find a way into them before it freezes and expands, quite literally creating a bigger problem. Also, take a close look around the doors and windows to see if there is any torn weather stripping, loose caulk seals, or gaps where the doors and windows meet in the frame. Many times, a simple and cost-effective solution is applying a renewed bead of caulk around the seals. Of course, take care not to seal the opening that is supposed to be there. You may laugh now, but it is unfortunate and very frustrating when it happens. If you encounter an issue that seems to exceed your abilities, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional. With proper maintenance, your exterior will be able to withstand the elements and maximize energy efficiency through what will inevitably turn out to be another harsh, Chicago winter.
Get Your Mind Into The Gutter
Throughout the year, gutters collect all sorts of debris. In the fall, this really kicks into high gear as the trees first change from all types of green into beautiful, warm tones only shed their foliage and help create those spooky shadows just in time for a dark, cold Halloween night stroll. The drawback, besides scaring yourself into running in terror from nothing, is those falling leaves can really clog the gutters.
Clogs inhibit the effective job of these otherwise efficient drainage systems which can ultimately cause load bearing issues of accumulating snow, dangerous icicles and ice dams, and leaks when that ice finally finds a way inside. Before inclement winter weather settles in, it’s best to clear gutters and any other drainage systems of leaves, sticks and other debris from your property. It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it!
If you already have cleaning out the gutters on your to-do list, why not take a peek at the roof while you’re up there? Inspect for loose, damaged or missing shingles and replace them before the winter months arrive. A strong roof will help ensure your rental property can withstand the weight of what winter may bring.
Slip & Snowfall
Snow can be so romantic when imagined as tiny, beautiful intricacies, slowly falling from the fluffy clouds only to melt on the tip of your nose. In Chicago, we know that snow is nowhere near as innocent. Piles and piles of the stuff to move and move again, causing aches in muscles you didn’t realize you had, and making each trip outside an award-worthy act of bravery and valor. As such, it is important to have a sense of urgency about securing the details of snow removal for your property ahead of time.
Whether it will be you, the owner or landlord, your tenant, or a professional snow removal company, it is best not to leave this detail dangle until the first snowflakes fall. Chicago laws mandate all walkways be cleared of snow and ice, and a fine may await those who fail to comply. Here at Lofty, we understand the need for clear sidewalks and are happy to coordinate the snow removal for our property management clients who are interested in this seasonal service.
Fall Foliage Fun
Another fall maintenance task to consider for your rental property is to rake up leaves and other autumnal detritus before the first snow falls. Once the snow begins to melt, any leaves still on the ground begin to rot against grass and can leave dead patches come springtime. This can be unsightly and costly to repair. The fall maintenance of your landscaping can preserve your property’s curb appeal for spring, just in time for new prospective tenants—especially if a lease is soon to expire!
A quick trim of branches, shrubs and hedges can reduce breakage and damage under the weight of accumulating snow and ice. Shearing vegetation growth that comes in contact with the exterior of your property or another structure (for example, a fence) can assist with prevention of damage from bitter wind storms. The work of trimming and pruning your property’s trees, bushes and hedges late in the fall can really take the edge off springtime maintenance and make things easier when spring arrives as your plants can begin regrowth with a fresh start.
What’s one thing every property owner wants to avoid during winter? Burst pipes which can cause all kinds of water damage. Fear not, there are measures to avoid this dreaded dilemma! By wrapping otherwise uninsulated water pipes with foam sleeves, the running water itself can act as an antifreeze agent. In the event your property will be vacant this winter, keep the thermostat set to a minimum of 55 degrees and keep your mind set at ease. As part of property management services, your property manager should be maintaining and properly monitoring temperatures in vacant units, as well as any residences containing a tenant that will be gone for an extended period of time.
While we’re at it, if your property has a sprinkler system, be sure to completely empty or drain them of any leftover water. Water left in the irrigation system will freeze and can lead to burst lines. Not a huge deal in the dead of winter but it can lead to an extremely strange and costly situation come springtime. You wouldn’t want to unintentionally turn your garden into a bog, would you?
The Heat Is On
This one is a biggie—a furnace is absolutely essential in Chicago! If you have a radiator, it can be bled to alleviate malfunction. However, by 2015 most properties have been retrofitted with gas forced air furnaces for heating in the winter. After months of going unused, a tune-up for your furnace may be a necessity. Here at Lofty, we offer thorough furnace tune-ups to all our property owners that include the following:
- Clean and adjust burner assembly.
- Clean ignition assembly.
- Replace Thermocouple on Standing Pilot Furnaces.
- Inspect heat exchanger or elements.
- Monitor flue draft.
- Test safety controls.
- Clean and adjust blower components.
- Lubricate all moving parts.
A broken or malfunctioning furnace can be quite unpleasant for you and your tenant, especially during the coldest months of the year. The best service people book-up quickly, and can result in very long wait times and be quite pricey for emergencies. worth the preventative maintenance tune-up for your rental property, your wallet and the warmth and happiness of your tenants!
As our Chicago summer is now only a memory and fall is quickly turning into winter, we are also counting down the days until spring. Our property managers at Lofty are well equipped to offer assistance and recommendations with your “winterizing” property maintenance. It’s kind of like we are all in this together. Proper property maintenance going into winter can help minimize any cold weather type issues and that’s something else to toast to come New Year’s Eve!
Speak with one of our experts today to find out how we can maximize your investment.