Prep Your Facility for Winter Weather
Get your facility winter-ready by including the following elements on your building maintenance to-do list.
1. Heating System – An annual HVAC system checkup can help prevent your heating system from giving up in cold weather. If you haven’t done so already, have a certified professional come to service the system and verify everything is working properly. You'll also want to check your furnace filters regularly. Most furnace filters will need to be replaced every three months depending on the condition of the system.
***Save on your energy bill, too! Keeping up with the freezing temperatures outside can take a toll on the energy bill. To help keep costs down, be sure to keep up with system maintenance as it will keep the furnace running more efficiently. Additionally, you can cut costs by setting the system to a lower temperature when the facility is not being used. However, be careful to not let your facility get below 50 degrees Fahrenheit at any time!
2. Water Pipes – Freezing temperatures can cause pipes to freeze or burst. To prevent costly damage caused by a burst pipe, make sure the building's thermostat is set higher than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, wrap any pipes that may be exposed to freezing temperatures with pipe insulation and, if the temperature gets extremely cold, turn your faucets to a slow drip to reduce the chance of freezing. If your facility has exterior faucets or lawn-irrigation systems, be sure those water pipes are drained completely and any hoses are disconnected prior to winter.
3. Roofs and Gutters – Inspect your roof for leaks and empty all gutters and downspouts. Follow these steps to prevent ice dams from forming:
- Ensure the attic has adequate insulation and ventilation;
- Install soffit vents to increase ventilation;
- Seal any openings in the attic including heat ducts, light fixtures and vent pipes;
- Keep gutters and downspouts clear; and
- Clear snow two to three feet from roof edges.
4. Handrails and Walkways – Improper maintenance of handrails and walkways can contribute to slips and falls – especially when paired with snow or ice. Now’s the time to make sure all handrails are sturdy, secure and in good condition. Additionally, throughout the season, apply ice melt on all walkways, especially those in front of entrances that see a lot of foot traffic.
5. Snow and Ice Removal – Take inventory of the snow and ice removal equipment you have on hand, such as shovels, ice melt and snow blowers, to ensure everything is ready to go when winter weather strikes. Additionally, develop a plan for how snow and ice removal will be handled including who will be the person (or people) to take care of it.
© 2020 The GuideOne Center for Risk Management, LLC. All rights reserved. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.