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Winter Weather Facility Prep Guide

December 10, 2017

If you’ve never experienced the joy of a particularly harsh January, consider yourself lucky. As the winter season approaches, cold and rainy weather presents extra challenges for facility management teams: HVAC issues, wet or icy walkways, rainstorms, floods, cycles of thawing and freezing damaging foundations–things get tricky. Cold weather, no matter which region you’re located in, requires a good deal of preparation to keep your facility safe. At best, you avoid a disaster. At the very least, you can save money and keep your occupants safer and happier when weather gets rough. Not concerned with the change in seasons in your region? Read on! It’s always good to learn a little more about the industry as a whole. Plus, you never know what the future holds–you may end up needing this information someday!

Your Winter Prep Checklist:

Roofs

  • Flat roofs:
    • Take note of divots in the roof surface and periodically check these spots to be sure they’re clear of snow and ice
      • Have supplies ready to clear these spots if necessary after a hard snow or rain
    • Check seals and drains to prevent drafts, snowmelt, or rain from entering your building
  • Slanted roofs:
    • Take note of any loose, broken, or missing shingles and patch where necessary
    • Check the seals/weatherproofing on edges and corners and patch where necessary
  • Gutters
    • Be sure gutters and drainpipes are free of debris to avoid clogging from sleet, snowmelt or rain
    • After periods of heavy precipitation, check for snow and ice buildup
      • Gutters and drainpipes are subject to damage from heavy weights and expanding/contracting ice

HVAC

  • Schedule inspections before weather gets bad to avoid having to make potentially crucial repairs during inclement weather
  • Ensure your supplies (replacement parts, filters, etc.) are accurately stocked in case an asset fails and needs to be up and running ASAP
  • Check the building for drafts and insulate them to avoid overworking your heating system
    • Look for icicles–they’re a sure sign of escaping heat

Sump Pumps

  • Inspect and drain sump pumps to accommodate for heavy rainfall or floods
  • Generators:
  • Check up on backup generators and schedule regular preventive maintenance
    • A downed backup generator opens the door to freezing pipes

Grounds/Envelope

  • Check for cracks in foundation and sidewalks/parking lots. Freezing water will expand and make them worse
  • Have salt and sand on the ready for icy days and take note of high-traffic walkways
  • Trim branches and bushes that could break and damage your building during wind and rain or heavy snow
  • Monitor landscaping for areas prone to being washed out in the rain
    • Use sandbags to deter erosion if necessary, especially near building foundation
  • Check which windows are prone to condensation and check periodically for mold
  • Shut off water to any exterior water faucets to keep spigots and pipes from freezing
    • If possible, use insulated covers for an extra layer of protection
  • Drain irrigation systems and ensure that valves are clear of water (in freezing temperature climates)
  • Run enough heat in unoccupied buildings to keep pipes above freezing temperatures
  • Know where emergency water shutoff valves are in case of a pipe burst
  • Pests will be seeking warmer places during winter–check for possible points of entry and seal them or set traps

Floors

  • Apply a few extra coats of finish to hard surfaces such as VCT to act as a buffer against abrasion from salt and boots
  • Have extra entryway mats ready if need be during peak traffic hours
    • Have mini air blowers set up to help keep vestibules clear
  • Have water removal equipment ready to avoid slippage on wet floors

Stay Prepared Out There!

Waiting for inspections or for parts to ship never works as quickly as you want it to. The earlier you can start winterizing your building, the better.

Stay on top of preventative maintenance this winter.

Download - The Ultimate Preventive Maintenance Checklist

Eleanor Jacobson

Former Blog Contributor and Marketing Communications Manager for AkitaBox.

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