How to Plan Ahead for the Battle Against Snow

snowy multifamily properties

Create snow removal, winterization plans before Mother Nature drops in this fall

In some parts of the country, winter-like weather can descend long before it’s time to carve the Thanksgiving turkey. It’s not uncommon for snowstorms to blanket parts of the Midwest and Northeast in the months leading up to the official start of winter.

Early snowfall arrivals signify an end to the fall outdoor season, and there’s no better time than now to prepare for the slippery white stuff, experts say.

“This is the time of the year to be proactive,” says Jason Arigoni, Director of Pro Merchandising at Home Depot. “Apartment communities need to be safe for residents and workers during the winter months. It’s super critical that properties not get caught in a situation that compromises the safety of residents and visitors, as well as damage assets.”

He recommends creating a snow removal plan as soon as possible, especially since unpredictable storms in the past couple of years have taxed equipment inventories and supplies used to clear walkways, driveways and parking lots. Snow blower supply hasn’t been able to meet demand in some parts of the country, and shelves that contained snow and ice melting agents have been bare in other areas.

In addition to effectively removing snow, winterizing certain assets and amenities around the property and maintaining roofs and gutters will help reduce the risk of liability and avoid costly repairs.

Here are five winterization tips Arigoni says will help apartments weather the perils of snow and ice:

1. Minimize risk by clearing gutters, roofs

Gutters clogged with leaves and debris affect drainage and should be cleared before snow and ice arrives. If gutters can’t sufficiently capture and drain water, melt from roofs can cause damage and inconvenience residents and staff. Also, contractors or maintenance personnel will be at risk of injury if they clear gutters during icy conditions.

2. Be ready to remove snow

Perform maintenance now to make sure existing snow removal equipment is working properly. A snow blower may be hard to replace in the middle of a harsh winter, based trends the past two years.

“For a couple of seasons nationwide, there has been a lot of stress on the inventory, especially in some areas of the country with the snowstorms we’ve seen,” Arigoni said. “It’s been hard to even get inventory, no matter who you are shopping with. We’ve seen huge snow storms, and they haven’t always been in the same area, which has made putting inventory in the right spot challenging.”

3. Stock up on snow and ice melt products

Last year, calcium chloride, which is used to melt snow and ice, was scarce and slowed production of melting products used for sidewalks and driveways. This year, ice melt supplies are back to normal, Arigoni says, but he’s seeing an uptick in orders ahead of schedule. Stock up now.

“We’ve already been taking ice melt orders in the last 90 days,” he said. “The industry thinks there is much more available this year. But we’ve seen orders come in way earlier than any years past. We’re seeing it from our competitors as well.”

outdoor winter furniture

4. Winterize amenities in outdoor common areas

Home and garden experts offer several tips to help outdoor furniture withstand winter weather. Adding a sealer or a coat of paint to metal, plastic and fabric chairs and tables will help prevent from damage by snow and ice, and salt products to keep areas clear.

Also, begin making plans to winterize pools and hot tubs. Check pump equipment and ensure freeze guards are working properly.

5. Insulate, insulate, insulate

Insulate indoor and exposed pipes, as well as doors and windows. Caulking around windows and doors will keep unwanted air out and help reduce energy usage. Insulating pipes will prevent ruptures attributed to freezing, which can lead to expensive repairs.

Even though skies may be sunny and temperatures mild for this time of the year, winter weather may be just around the corner at communities in some parts of the U.S. Is your property ready for an early winter wonderland?


Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

author photo two

Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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