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Posted by on Apr 2020 in All Stories, Features, Member Support, Slider, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Get your buildings ready for spring!

A ladder with a paint lid and brush sits against a freshly-painted wall.

Spring has officially arrived, and this particular spring comes with a unique set of challenges. Many community housing providers are finding it difficult to maintain services due to reduced staff availability and the need to work under the constraints of social distancing protocols. You may find that your organization is ramping up certain routine maintenance tasks, such as cleaning common areas, while reducing other, non-essential tasks like cosmetic landscaping. Spring maintenance season is here and some tasks are essential for keeping your buildings running safely and smoothly.

Prioritizing tasks is an essential part of developing your maintenance plan. You may find it necessary to reprioritize your tasks to match your current capacity. To learn more about identifying critical vs. non-critical tasks, download ONPHA’s Pandemic Planning for Non-Profit Housing Providers, free to ONPHA Housing Members.

Read on to learn about some of the important tasks you may be able to get started on, even with reduced staffing.

Outside

Exterior of a high-rise apartment building.

Check your gutters and downspouts. Clear all debris and make sure they’re intact and prepared to deal with the incoming spring rain. This is crucial for preventing leaks that can result in water damage and mould.

Inspect the roof. Bring in your contractor to identify any damage or areas of potential leakage the roof may have developed over the winter.

Schedule a roof anchor inspection. Ensuring that your annual roof anchor inspection is carried out will help prepare your building for external maintenance and repair work to be carried out over the next several months. Check out ONPHA’s InfoON: Roof Anchors in the Asset Management section of our resource library for more information about installing and maintaining roof anchors.

Inspect the building exterior. Look for damage to siding, paint, concrete and expansion joint sealant that could allow water and outside air in.

Inspect walkways and pavement. Aesthetics may not be a top priority at the moment, but safety is. Check for cracks and uneven paving that might be a hazard to tenants, staff and the general public.

Perform safety landscaping. Again, gardening and cosmetic planting might not be a huge concern, but it’s a good idea to check for fallen branches, standing water and other things that are or could become hazardous.

Inspect landscaping equipment. Ensure your lawnmowers, weed trimmers, hoses, etc., are in good working order and ready to use when you get the time to do so. Hire a contractor to do so, where necessary.

Inside

A man changes an HVAC filter.

Inspect the HVAC system. Check and replace air filters and clean all supply and return air grills. Be ready to change the system over to cooling when appropriate (April/May).

Test fire safety system. Continue with your regularly scheduled fire alarm testing. Many organizations schedule their comprehensive fire safety systems testing/inspection for spring. As a housing provider, you must fulfill your obligations under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act and proceed with scheduled inspections/maintenance. Visit ONPHA’s COVID-19 FAQ page to learn more about your obligations and how to remind your tenants about fire safety.

Inspect and clean laundry venting. Dryer vent build-up is a fire hazard. Be sure to have your venting inspected and cleaned.

Consider:

Cleaning the carpets. If you can do so with your current staffing levels and while maintaining social distance, cleaning the dirt, debris and salt that has built up over the winter will help to prolong the life of carpets in common areas while improving the appearance and odor of the hallways.

Pressure washing walkways and steps. As with carpet cleaning, pressure washing exterior walkways and steps to remove buildup accumulated over the winter (particularly salt) will help prolong the life of paved surfaces. Removing buildup will help prevent further debris from accumulating.

Preparing outdoor beds for planting. If you are able, consider clearing outdoor beds of debris and prepare them for eventual planting. Access to annual flowers and plants may be limited for the time being, depending on your supplier, but you can improve the appearance of your grounds by tidying up the beds and allowing any perennials you may have planted to shine.

Overall, maintenance planning and execution is a challenge at the moment. Prioritize safety first and protection of long-term assets, and the ability to perform tasks in a way that is safe for staff and tenants.

Visit the Asset management section of ONPHA’s resource library for information to help you keep on top of your maintenance tasks. Make sure you’re logged in to the website as an ONPHA member. Check out our Maintenance Planning Handbook to help your organization develop a comprehensive maintenance plan. This is a free resource for Upgraded ONPHA members.

To stay up-to-date with COVID-19 news and resources for housing providers, visit our regularly-updated information page.

Have other questions? Contact us at member.support@onpha.org. We’re always happy to help.

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