We spend a lot of time talking about the condo market, stats, and data for buyers and sellers, but with recent news articles talking about potential heavy rains, snow and the like this winter, we were prompted to do some research on condo winter readiness to protect your investment if you are a condo owner.

SnowRecently, the Seattle Times had an article about keeping storm  drains clear.  Well guess what? This isn’t just for single-family house owners; your condo building is also surrounded by storm drains. On your next trip to walk the doggie, or to the local coffee shop or bar, take a look around your building and pay attention to the storm drains.  Do you have an alley around back? How about a rooftop deck or courtyard? Check there too. In heavy rains or even snow, if these drains are blocked by leaves or debris, they won't drain water and flooding could result.  Take a few minutes to clear those drains and compost those leaves or throw away the debris. Or if it’s within your building, bring it to the attention of your building staff.  If you see a big build up in the street or alley drains, Seattle Public Utilities says to give them a call and they will have crews come out and remove that heavy grate covering the drain to remove the blockage (don’t try to lift it yourself).

Acting now can save you a big headache during a rain storm by preventing flooding into you building or lakes of water blocking your access and exit to and from your building.

Here are some other things you can do to this fall and winter in and around your condo:

  • Remove items from your deck or patio that can be blown over during high winds – flying items are dangerous and can damage your unit or even your building
  • If your deck or balcony has a water faucet, an insulated cover can prevent freezing
  • Hanging items should be taken down (if your building even allows that)
  • Common area furniture such as patio chairs, planters etc. should be covered and secured
  • Emergency Procedures: (the former firefighter in me of course wanted to talk about this!)
    • Have supplies to last you at least 36 hours in the event of major power outage or in case you simply get snowed in, etc. – this includes nonperishable foods, water, batteries, extra medications (for pets also), first aid kit,  winter clothes and coats to keep warm in case you lose heat, flashlights (or candles and matches for the romantics out there)
    • Know the emergency procedures for your building
    • Also consider having a safety committee established in your building if you don’t already have one –  Bigger picture items should be discussed and planned for such as: backup power for hallway lighting, elevators, garage doors etc., where you will store extra trash if trash pickup is delayed, where the emergency meeting location is to account for residents if there is catastrophic event in your building such as collapse from a landslide caused by heavy rain fall, snowfall, earthquake etc. (It’s scary to think about, but worth bringing up to your board or property management company and you might even learn they are prepared than you thought)

For more winter weather preparedness ideas and information check out the City of Seattle’s winter preparedness checklists at http://www.seattle.gov/emergency/prepare/#winter

Happy and safe fall and winter to you!

By Marco Kronen with Seattle Condo Review: A guide to Seattle Condos and Seattle Belltown Condos exclusively for buyers and sellers.