Multifamily N Illinois

Spring maintenance: Ensure your property is a swimming—not sinking—success

Spring maintenance: Ensure your property is a swimming,ph1
The private terrace fountain at Kingsbury Plaza in Chicago, managed by The Habitat Company.

The snow is gone! Well…maybe. It’s the Midwest, so anything can happen in April. But regardless of the weather outside, spring is upon us, so now is the perfect time to ensure a property is running at peak performance as we head into the busy leasing season.

For owners, this means making sure their building operators and maintenance teams walk their properties and inspect all systems. When it comes to spring maintenance, success boils down to three main areas of focus: cooling systems, property exteriors and outdoor amenities (including pools).

Ice, ice baby

While it’s hard to think about turning on the air conditioning when we’re still wearing heavy sweaters, it’s not too soon to start inspecting your HVAC systems. Be sure to examine the intake sites, louvers and dampers to make sure they aren’t obstructed or broken. The ability to pump fresh air into the building through economizer mode is critical for resident comfort during the milder months when neither heat nor air are needed.

Next, conduct preventative maintenance on the cooling system towers, chillers and pumps to ensure the transition from heat to air conditioning goes smoothly. During this same time, be sure to check the inventory of chemicals needed to keep the cooling systems operating. No one wants to be to be caught unprepared with an 80-degree day and an air conditioning system short on supplies to keep it running.

Shock and thaw

Concrete and asphalt do not like the thermal shock of the freeze-and-thaw cycle so common in the Midwest. As a result, they will crack and break apart. First, evaluate the condition of the concrete and asphalt and determine if they can be repaired or if they need to be replaced. Next, take care of the surface before it becomes a bigger problem or someone gets hurt.

In addition to walking properties to remove debris left behind from the winter, also examine roofs and gutters to keep them free and clear. As the temperature warms, it’s important to ensure there is a place for water to property drain—either from melting snow or spring rain. Keep the gutters clean and confirm that downspouts are extended away from a building’s foundation, especially in garden-style mid-rise buildings. And don’t forget to check the storm water catch basins to be sure the drains are clear, have good openings and that the runoff is flowing in the correct direction.

The great outdoors

With even the slightest hint of spring-like weather, residents are eager to take advantage of their community’s outdoor amenities, so be sure the property is ready, too. Clean, test and stock (optional) outdoor grills; secure outdoor furniture and umbrellas in place; make sure heat lamps for transitional weather are working and replace any necessary lights so residents can enjoy the amenity areas as soon as the warmer temps beckon them outside.

When checking inventory for the chemicals to run your cooling systems, don’t forget to also check for any chemicals needed to get the pools and hot tubs up and running on schedule.

Lastly, engage your landscaper so spring plantings and outdoor areas are spruced up and in full bloom for renters touring properties.

Spring forward

Keep in mind that the timing mentioned above is a guideline, as it is not uncommon for property managers to accelerate the pace of spring maintenance if unseasonable warm weather arrives ahead of schedule. That said, it’s also not too early to start working on summer maintenance. Even in the Midwest a few 80-degree days early in the season is not out of the norm, and will no doubt prompt residents to ask when the pool will open.

As property managers, we need to be ready. Know your building, your systems and be prepared to manage and adjust accordingly to keep things running as smoothly as possible for residents. I’ve always said, residents never move into a building because of great maintenance, but they will definitely move out because of bad maintenance.

Jack Devedjian is Vice President of Facilities Management and Engineering at The Habitat Company.