Everyone can agree that preventive property maintenance is the least expensive and most effective way to ensure small problems don’t turn into expensive nightmares. No matter what types of properties your portfolio includes, the summer months can be demanding.
For residential property managers, preventative maintenance often means fewer late night calls when something goes bump in the night – or the AC fails to deliver cold air and your renter’s temperature starts to rise.
For community managers, proactive maintenance of common areas shows your value to homeowners and board members, and by encouraging community members to stay on top of seasonal maintenance items for their own homes, you can help keep property values high and reduce violations.
To make sure your team doesn’t overlook any opportunities to keep costs low and provide great experiences for residents and owners, here is an ultimate month-by-month, summer maintenance checklist to put your team on the right path for success.
If you manage community associations where homeowners are responsible for performing maintenance on their own property, consider including some of these items in your newsletter or board meetings as a helpful reminder for them. Or, you can just focus on the tasks from this list that are important for common area upkeep.
- Inspect plumbing fixtures and systems: Check sinks, toilets, and showers for leaks, and look for chipped grout and sealants that may lead to water damage if left untreated. Remember to look at common area fountains, water features, and public restrooms along with individual units.
- Promote safe summer fun and community activities: A well-equipped, fully functioning picnic and grill area is essential to reduce fire risks. Inspect all fire boxes, hoses, values, and connectors to ensure hot sparks don’t escape the cooking area. (This is a great time to educate residents about the proper use and care of outdoor picnic appliances and furniture, too!)
- Get a bird’s eye view – from the roof: Check the roof and under the eaves for missing shingles, exposed wood, missing paint, and spongy spots. While you’re up there, make sure air vents and roof-mounted exhaust fans are secure and working properly. Birds and small animals often look for holes they can use to build a summer nest to raise a family.
- Test smoke and CO2 alarms. Testing in-unit alarm systems at least once per season improves safety for residents and lowers risks for property managers.
- Service the air conditioners. Hot weather puts extra strain on the HVAC system. A full service which includes new filters, belts and hoses, thermostat testing and a thorough cleaning will make sure your units are ready for the hard work ahead.
- Stop mold and mildew spread. Mold spores can take root in damp basements, humid indoor environments, and in the dirt on the grounds. Schedule a thorough property inspection for signs of mold with human eyes and thermal cameras, if necessary, to detect cool spots in floors and between the walls.
- Update outdoor lighting. Outdoor lights provide safe passage after sundown, and create a welcoming atmosphere for community residents and guests. Places to consider include near entrance and exit points, breezeways, along sidewalks, near the pool, around the clubhouse or exercise room and parking areas.
- Secure the building envelope. According to Energy.gov and other industry experts, up to 30% of lost energy escapes through poorly sealed windows and doors. Another 10% escapes through the floor and 25% of lost heat goes through the roof – literally. Examine the roof, floor, windows, walls, floors, doors all other components of the building envelope for damage.
- Steam clean tile and carpet flooring. Carpet is known to collect allergens and a professional cleaning twice a year is a real health benefit for staff and residents. Depending on which geographic area a community property is located in, you may choose August as an alternative month. Typically, this maintenance chore is reserved for the hottest month of the year to allow residents and management a clear, hot day to open the windows to encourage faster drying times.
- Keep appliances in top working order. Check out in-unit appliances – garbage disposals, dishwashers, washers, dryers, microwaves, etc. Cleaning and servicing appliances extends the life-cycle. This is also a perfect time to give the on-site laundry facility a top to bottom cleaning since you’ll be inspecting the washers and dryers anyway.
- Consult an arborist. Spring is often the best time to prune many shrubs and trees; however, trimming trees (except some Elm and Oak varieties) during summer months is recommended to keep weak or dying limbs from causing damage to property during stormy weather, or branches growing into power lines and overhead cables. Arborists and horticulturists can help your property management landscape team create a year-round maintenance schedule to ensure your trees and shrubs stay healthy and strong throughout the changing seasons.
- Protect outdoor furnishings. Resurface wood and concrete outdoor furniture, making sure to patch or repair any cracks or broken elements before repainting or staining each piece.
- Pressure wash hard surfaces. Pressure washing parking areas, driveways, sidewalks and breezeways not only gives your property a clean, welcoming appearance, it allows your maintenance crew to spot, and address, problems such as cracks, potholes and unwanted vegetation growing in areas could pose safety hazards. (Weeds and grass that push through cracks in concrete can cause extensive damage if not treated promptly.)
- Refresh common areas. Mid-summer is the perfect time to repaint the administrative offices and interior common areas, have upholstered furniture and drapes cleaned, and update wall art. A fresh coat of paint and new decorations keeps your property looking attractive and creates good vibes for current and future residents.
- Recharge Fire Extinguishers. A small fire can quickly get out of control. Many property managers do an annual inventory of each apartment that includes making sure the proper size and number of fire extinguishers are available in every unit, administrative building and common area. The National Fire Protection Agency recommends that each unit (or office) provides enough fire extinguishers so that no one has to walk more than 75 feet to reach one if a fire breaks out. A mid-year check is wise to ensure all fire extinguishers are fully charged and ready should a disaster happen.
- Clean the gutters and down-spouts. Excess dirt and debris may trap water in the gutters, which may freeze during cold weather. The expanding ice can crack or otherwise damage your gutter system beyond repair. Clean gutters also discourage animals and insects from building nests and reduce mold and mildew colonization.
- Prepare for cold weather. Clean the chimney, check the flue, and inspect the grate and fire-screen. Light a fire in every in-unit wood- or pellet-burning fireplace. Schedule a professional cleaning and service and/or test gas and electric fireplaces before winter weather arrives.
- Crank up the heat. Change HVAC filters, thoroughly inspect the unit, and perform (or contract) routine maintenance to be sure the heater is ready whenever cool weather gives way to frigid temperatures.
- Update the flower beds. As summer winds down, prepare your flower beds and containers to improve your curb appeal and attract new residents before fall. Replace spring annuals with plant varieties that thrive in cooler weather. Mulch your perennial beds. Trim the shrubs. Keep an eye out for pests and insects that can damage your building and other assets. The perfect time to treat for bugs and rodents in most areas is before they build their winter nesting site.
- Encourage proper cleanup. Replace community trash cans and recycling receptacles. Community trash cans take a lot of abuse during the summer months when school is out of session and residents spend more time outdoors. Clean, available trash containers encourage your residents to share the burden of keeping the community clean and safe.
Summer is a busy time for property managers and association maintenance teams alike, but staying on top of routine maintenance throughout the busiest leasing season means you can always put your best foot forward with customers.