With winter approaching quickly, it’s important to take some time of assess if your building and grounds are ready for this environmental change. Energy can be quickly wasted through cracks and drafts, plumbing systems are at risk for breakage, and the requirements for grounds and access care increase dramatically. It’s important to do everything necessary to not only protect your building investment and business equipment, but your employees and customers as well. Properly preparing your facility for winter is crucial!
Having a checklist ready to address the many concerns that cold temperatures and hazardous weather presents to our physical plants can help you get prepared efficiently.
- Snow & Ice Removal
- Roofs & Gutters
- Foundation & Grounds
- Entrances & Parking
- HVAC Systems
- Electrical & Power Supply
Snow & Ice Removal
Snow and ice control are among the largest building maintenance tasks that winter brings. One of the worst things that could happen is for someone to suffer a slip and fall injury on your premises due to untreated surface conditions. Get out ahead of it by ensuring you have your plowing and salting services lined up, and plenty of salt/sand onsite for quick response during a storm. Put out plowing markers around the perimeters of your parking lots and walkways so boundaries are easily visible to snow removal workers.
Make sure your staff or building maintenance crew has clear instructions and expectations for addressing snow and ice. Always have people responsible, during each shift or hour of operation, for salting walkways and keeping an eye on snow buildup.
In addition to your snow and ice removal plan, entrances are major points for energy loss. If you don’t have double doors as a ‘cold lock’ entrance, consider adding an awning or tenting your main entrances in some way to manage the blowing winds and precipitation.
If you don’t already have good mats and carpets at transition areas from outside to indoors, get some so people can clean their feet to prevent slippery floors and tracking in dirt.
Foundations & Grounds
While snow build-up has long been viewed by Mainers as added (free) insulation to our buildings, letting snow pile up close to buildings also creates a damaging situation waiting to happen. The heat of the building meeting the cold of the outdoors produces constant freeze-thaw cycles, and allows water to sit and leak into the building at the foundation. This all leads to water damaged building materials over time, and also creates an environment for mold to grow.
Grounds tend to heave and move during the freeze-thaw cycles of Maine winters. This not only creates tripping and fall hazards, but can damage foundation materials. Keep snow and ice buildup away from your building, and make sure your building has adequate ventilation so moisture is not allowed to remain and wreak havoc.
Roofs & Gutters
Roofs present unique problems. Winter burdens them with extra weight which can cause leaks, damage and collapses, and they present a safety hazard as well when snow and ice shed from these upper apparatuses.
Always keep your roof and gutter systems free of debris, and clear of any standing snow and ice buildup. Do a check before snow flies to ensure that all materials are securely fastened to the building, and drainage and downspouts are working properly.
HVAC & Electrical
Freezing temperatures mean trouble for unprotected plumbing fixtures and pipes. Be sure your plumbing is properly insulated, that outdoor water faucets and sprinklers are turned off and drained, and that your sprinkler system heads are protected from snow removal equipment and the weight of snowbanks. Any gas lines should also be protected from potential damage, and falling ice and snow.
If your business has generators, this is the time of year to service them and make sure they are running properly. You want that to start right up in a time of need. If your business does not have a generator, but would benefit considerable by staying open during power outages, consider investing in one – it will set you apart from your competition if you are open and they can’t be!
Major storms can cause power outages and damaging surges in electricity. Protect your equipment and computer information by plugging in to surge-protected outlets, and have backup mechanisms for computer data. Storing files to cloud-based storage saves a lot of worry!
Taking the time to run down through all your facility parts and pieces may seem time-consuming, but the alternative damage and risks far outweigh your preventative efforts!