7 Tips to Prepare Your Commercial Building for Winter
Winter can take a big toll on commercial buildings, which is why even though the weather may be nice now, it’s a good time to think about preparing your building for winter. But where should you start? And, what areas of your building need special attention with regard to winterization? We’ve listed out seven helpful tips to get you on your way.
1. Air leaks
Check the structure of your commercial property for air leaks, and consider getting an energy audit for your building, which can help find these problem areas. Once they are identified, seal them up for considerable cost savings and increased comfort for your employees and guests.
Directly related to air leaks is whether your building has sufficient insulation. To ensure efficiency, inspect your building’s insulation for holes or compromised areas that could result in heat loss. Pay special attention to roofs, weather stripping, and unheated areas. Also check the quality of your building’s insulation. Is the insulation level sufficient? Are there places that could use more insulation, or does the entire building need an insulation update? There are now a variety of options in insulation to ensure your building gets the best protection from the cold, including blanket-style insulation, rigid insulation, foam insulation, and more.
3. HVAC System
Your HVAC system works hard all year long, but can work overtime in the winter. And, because the HVAC system affects the air quality throughout the building, it’s critical to service and inspect it before winter sets in. Routine service and inspections include:
- Check and change air filters.
- Inspect and repair broken parts.
- Inspect vent work for leaks or holes that might be hurting efficiency.
- Cover all outdoor air-conditioning units that will go unused during the winter.
- Inspect the ventilation system to ensure exhaust gasses are being ventilated out of the building.
- Hire a professional for a full inspection of the HVAC equipment before you run the heat for the first time this season.
Frozen pipes and subsequent flooding is a common cause of expensive damage in commercial buildings during winter. The average claim for water damage due to frozen pipes is typically more than $10,000. Avoid flooding and burst pipes by making sure all of your existing freeze-protection devices and alarms are in good working order. Test freeze stats and valves before the weather gets cold, wrap pipes and faucets in unheated or minimally heated areas of the building and seal cracks and openings around exposed pipes. To help prevent freezing in any unused areas of the building, keep the thermostat in those areas set to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
The roof is a critically important part of a commercial building. To prevent leaks and other expensive issues, inspect the roof for holes or damage that could cause leaks during snowmelt. You should also check for loose shingles and repair damage to existing seals and flashing to ensure the roof is structurally sound and capable of withstanding another winter.
Winterize your landscaping, including trimming trees and shrubs to reduce exterior damage. Ensure that vegetation and grass are properly graded to avoid water and ice sitting against your property’s foundation which could lead to interior water damage. Also, inspect the exterior of your building for cracks, damage, or wear.
Your buildings outdoor lighting should also be inspected. Decreased daylight means your employees or guests may be more at risk for falling should winter weather occur or hazards not be easily identifiable. Install proper exterior lighting on your commercial property, and check that light bulbs and fixtures are clean and in working order.
7. Disaster Plan
If the worst does happen, how will your company react? Make a plan for a variety of disasters, including fire, flooding, and gas leaks. Keep all new and current employees up-to-date on the protocols, communicate clearly with guests, and ensure various escape plans are easily identifiable.
In many states, winters are tough. Fortunately, these tips can help you prepare and protect your commercial building and avoid costly disasters and repairs.