Winter weather can bring harsh conditions that cause damage to a building. Inclement weather and the resulting building damage can disrupt business operations and cost you a lot of money. There are certain steps that you can take to ensure your building is prepared for these conditions. EDA understands that your property is an expensive investment and is here to help you protect it. To get you ready for these conditions, we have compiled seven steps that commercial building owners can take to prepare for winter.
1. Inspect Your Roof
Making sure your roof is in good shape is one of the most important aspects of winterizing your building. A weak or vulnerable roof can sustain severe damage from the weight of snow and ice, which can result in leaks and structural problems. Having your roof inspected in the summer or fall gives you time to address any issues or repairs in advance. Clearing your roof if snow accumulation becomes excessive can also help avoid damage. In the event that your roof does sustain damage, do not wait to get the issue fixed. Seeking prompt attention to leaks and damage to your roof will limit damage and save you money in the long run.
2. Clear Gutters
Effective drainage plays a pivotal role in preventing water accumulation, ice formation, and potential damage to your property. Fall brings with it the tendency for leaves and other debris to build up in your sewage, drain, and gutter systems. This debris can lead to water infiltration, leaks, and structural damage. Conduct regular inspections and cleanings of your building's gutters to lower the risk of debris buildup. Additionally, consider placing extensions on downspouts to redirect water away from the foundation if you notice areas where water is pooling.
3. Insulation Assessment
Proper insulation is essential for retaining heat during the winter months. Inefficient insulation can lead to substantial heat loss and increased energy consumption. Evaluate your current setup and identify areas such as attics and walls with inadequate insulation. Professionals will be able to tell where you're lacking insulation and also have technology that can identify points where you are experiencing heat loss. Following this evaluation, add insulation to areas that need it. There are various insulation methods that can be employed depending on location. Blanket-style insulation is commonly used to improve thermal resistance in walls, floors, and ceilings. When insulating irregular spaces where blanket-style would be challenging to install, foam and loose-fill insulation are recommended as alternatives. Proper insulation can significantly reduce energy bills and lead to potential savings of up to 30% on heating costs.
4. Plan for Snow and Ice Removal
If your building is in an area that is prone to snow, you'll want to have a plan in place so you are not caught off guard. A primary concern during the winter is the safety of everyone who enter and exits your commercial building. Snow can impact the ability of individuals to reach your building and can disrupt business operations, while ice puts people at increased risk for slip and falls. If you plan to handle your own snow removal, you'll need to ensure that you have the proper equipment available. An ample supply of salt will also be needed to spread on driveways, parking lots, and walkways. In addition to preparing for snow removal, make sure you have a plan in place for when the snow melts. Melting snow can cause soil to become oversaturated. When this happens, buildings with insufficient waterproofing can be at risk of unwanted water penetration.
5. Protect Your Plumbing
While plumbing is generally hidden behind your walls, it should be at the front of your mind when preparing your building for the winter season. Frozen pipes are a common issue property owners face during the winter and can lead to costly damage. To ensure this does not become a problem, inspect your building's piping and identify vulnerable areas where they may be exposed to colder temperatures. Insulate these areas as much as possible. If the property will be unoccupied for an extended period, keep your heaters on a low setting. Shutting the heater off in a vacant building during the winter can cause pipes to freeze and break. Another good tip is to let faucets drip slowly to prevent freezing. A slight uptick in water and heating bills is a lot less expensive than pipe repairs.
6. Shut Down Irrigation Systems
During the spring, summer, and early fall, a property's grass and plants need adequate water to survive, however as temperatures drop in the winter, they don't have the same requirements. This sidelines your typical irrigation systems for a few months. If your property contains an irrigation system, you'll want to properly manage it throughout the winter. If water is left in the system during cold weather, it can lead to damage that may cause it not to work properly in the spring. To avoid those problems, it is best practice to fully drain and completely shut off your irrigation system until the spring. This will ensure that it is in good condition when needed, and ready to use for all of your landscaping needs.
7. Weatherproof Windows and Doors
Windows and doors are prime entry points for cold air and moisture, which raise the potential for higher energy bills. Start by inspecting your current windows to ensure that they are in good shape. If they are old and worn out, consider having them replaced. If they are functioning properly, examine their seals by running your hand along the edges to feel for any gaps, cracks, and drafts. If any are found, caulk is an inexpensive method for sealing them. Also, remember to inspect the weather stripping for signs of damage. If it is damaged, that will have to be replaced or repaired as it can compromise the surrounding seal. There are various types of weather stripping, so choose the one that best suits your needs. Window film can also be applied to provide an additional layer of insulation and reduce heat transfer. Lastly, storm windows and doors can be installed to provide an extra layer of protection against the elements.
Winterizing your building is not just about keeping its inhabitants warm, but protecting your investment from costly repairs. There are multiple aspects of a building that are vulnerable to the winter weather. By following these winterization steps, you can enhance the durability and energy efficiency of your commercial building. Some simple preparation can prevent costly damage and headaches, so don't wait for the first storm to get your building ready.