Page 28 - December 6-19, 2023 Raise Your Voice Property Management A s the summer season comes to a close, property managers turn their attention to preparing properties for colder weather. Off-season months give man- agers the chance to repair and update properties, but the lack of occupancy during fall can lead to problems. Small issues such as a leaky pipe can go unnoticed if residents are away, causing sig- nificant damage across multiple units in a residential building. Occupied units that experience frozen pipes or heating break- downs also cause challenges for both managers and families who are keen to enjoy the festive sea- son without interruptions for maintenance or repair. Smart property technology is a useful solution for managers to stay one step ahead of these hard- ware issues, particularly as the weather gets colder. A well-inte- grated, cohesive smart property system not only alerts managers as soon as a problem occurs, but can predict potential hardware breakdowns before they even happen. n Frozen pipes and HVAC breakdowns. The drastic change in temperature that we often see here in Colorado frequently causes problemswithwater pipes and HVAC systems in multifam- ily properties. T e m p e r a - tures drop- ping from 80 degrees one day to snow the next place a high demand on HVAC sys- tems for air conditioning and then heat- ing in quick succes s i on , leading to breakdowns and fro- zen pipes. In a multifamily environment, burst pipes cause serious disrup- tion and damage, not only for the apartment where the hardware has failed but for multiple units surrounding it. This has signifi- cant implications for managers who are burdenedwith the finan- cial outlay to fix the initial prob- lem and then need to cover the cost of relocating families. Man- agers can also experience a loss of rent and are unable to show prospective tenants around other properties until they are all fixed. However, there are a number of smart property solutions that managers can adopt to receive real-time notifications of hard- ware issues to prevent emergency maintenance and repair. n Intelligent water manage- ment. One of the most common maintenance problems that prop- erty managers respond to during winter months is frozen pipes and water leaks, with the average insurance claim for those water events reported at a significant $12,514 (as reported by the insur- ance information institute). Smart technology offers a num- ber of solutions to this costly problem. An intelligent thermo- stat that is accessed remotely from an app can be used to adjust the temperature of a multifamily unit to maintain an ambient envi- ronment to protect water pipes from freezing. This is a particu- larly useful preventive measure to prevent frozen pipes when the residents are away or the unit is unoccupied and there is an unex- pected change in weather. Water leak detection sensors can also be installed throughout properties to alert managers in real-time of any unexpected leaks. Thesewireless devices can help to identify where the leak is coming from, a particularly useful tool for managers of many residents in multifamily buildings. Thesewater leakdetectionunits also have a built-in temperature sensor to immediately alert man- agers if the room is getting too cold; managers or residents can then access the smart thermostat remotely to warm the unit. Smart water valves can be inte- grated into an intelligent water management system and can work alongside the water sen- sors. These IoT devices communi- cate with each other so that when the sensor detects a leak, it can automatically shut off the water supply and send a notification to the property manager. This holistic smart water management system can turn a property manager’s operational strategy from a reactive mainte- nance program into a preventive approach that benefits the main- tenance teams, property owners, managers and the residents them- selves. n Intelligent HVAC monitor- ing. HVAC systems that are used regularly and required to switch from cooling to heating once fall arrives are prone to breakdowns. This can be spotted in real-time with intelligent HVAC monitor- ing, which uses smart technol- ogy to maintain and protect heat- ing and cooling systems within multifamily units. Often the most expensive piece of hardware in a property, the insight provid- ed into the performance of the HVAC system through intelligent monitoring gives property man- agers and residents the ability to service or tweak the system to prevent costly breakdowns. Smart technology“learns”what normal and optimal performance within the HVAC system looks like and can spot if something is wrong. For example, the system can recognize that it is working too hard to achieve the desired temperature and automatically sends an alert to the property manager. The maintenance team is then able to understand what is happening with the system, and service or fix it before it breaks down. When preparing properties for fall, the adoption of smart tech- nology can mean the difference between responding to an alert for a filter change in an HVAC system and the expense and reputational damage of having to displace residents into hotels because their unit is uninhabit- able. Property managers may have to make the initial investment into this tech, but the returns can be huge, and as time goes on, more and more residents will begin to expect these solutions to prevent disruptive maintenance in their home. s Cold weather: Preparing properties the smart way this fall Mike Branam Director of multifamily, PointCentral