Here in Ohio, stores are lining their shelves with fall decor and Halloween candy which can only mean one thing, winter is just around the corner. It also means this is the perfect time to get a head start on preparing your crew, equipment, and grounds for the colder weather ahead.
Check out the tips below for a smooth sailing winter, even when the "weather outside is frightful". If you live in a warm weather paradise, share this post with a cold climate friend!
Prepare your equipment
Will your equipment be reliable when old man winter strikes? Do you have access to back-up equipment in case of equipment failure? Follow the steps below to make sure that your equipment is in tip-top shape so you can prevent unexpected emergencies.
- Clean, repair, and store summertime equipment (mowers, trimmers, etc.) in a separate location to provide easier access to wintertime equipment.
- Inspect existing equipment that will be used heavily in the wintertime (snowplows, salt spreaders, etc.) to assess each item's condition and determine if any equipment needs to be repaired, replaced, or rented. If it will cost more to maintain a piece of equipment than it’s actually worth, consider replacing it.
- Develop and maintain an accurate equipment inventory to track model #’s, serial #’s, purchase dates, warranty expiration dates, and odometer readings. This information will help you predict when to replace equipment before it’s too late.
- Snow and ice removal takes a toll on equipment. Perform preventive maintenance before winter sets in to make sure your equipment can handle the job:
Hydraulics: Check hydraulic cylinders for stress cracks in the paint, leaking or bent fittings, and damaged hoses. Remove contaminants from hydraulic systems so they don’t turn into rust and gunk while in storage.
Electrical components: Inspect and protect motors, wires, solenoids, switches, and connections to make sure they’re operating properly. Use a rust inhibitor to protect electrical systems from damage.
Mechanical and structural components: Check for cracks, bent pins, broken cutting edges, missing or broken bolts, and twisted framework. Repair any damage that is found.
Protect key landscape components
Follow these steps to ensure that your landscaping elements will stand the test of winter and be ready to blossom in the spring.
- Clean up fallen leaves.
- Apply extra mulch to prepare beds and tender plants for winter weather conditions.
- October is the perfect time to replace summer annuals with chrysanthemums.
- Plant spring bulbs before the ground freezes, or around mid-November.
- Drain and winterize irrigation systems to prevent damage due to freezing.
- Aerate soil and apply gypsum along driveways and near low runoff areas to reduce the damage caused by the accumulation of salt based deicers.
Prepare your crew and grounds
Before those snowflakes start falling, follow the steps below to rally your crew and ensure that everyone is informed about your winter procedures and proper upkeep of your grounds.
- Establish contracts with outside equipment and service providers.
- Review snow removal and inclement weather procedures and responsibilities with your staff.
- Leverage your seasoned veterans to train new staff members on safe operation of equipment.
- Inclement weather can result in long hours for your crew. Keep your staff safe and sane by recruiting extra helping hands in advance from other departments or outside contractors in case you need them.
- Map out and assign snow removal routes. Prioritize which areas on or around your property (roadways, parking lots, sidewalks, etc.) will need to be cleared first after a snowfall.
- Determine what to do with excess snow and notify equipment operators so they know where to push the snow.
- Place signage in the areas designated for excess snow so that your building occupants will know those areas are reserved for snow piles.
- Pre-treat sidewalks and other paved surfaces with anti-icing products to make snow and ice removal easier when the time comes. Consider using liquid anti-icing products, rather than granular ones like rock salt.
- Although liquid deicers are more expensive, they typically do a better job preventing snow and ice from sticking to paved surfaces. If you do plan to use salt as a deicing agent, be cautious when using it near landscaped areas due to the erosion it can cause and avoid using it around electrical boxes and structural materials since it causes corrosion.
Download the "Winter Preparation Checklist"
We've combined all of the tips above into a handy checklist you can download below and print out to track your progress while you prepare for winter.
How FMX can help
FMX is a cloud-based software that simplifies facilities management. With FMX, you can maintain an accurate equipment inventory and schedule preventive maintenance tasks to ensure that your equipment and grounds are properly winterized.
Jamie is the marketing director at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not keeping the marketing ship afloat, chances are she’s out hiking with her high school sweetheart husband.