Winter Storm Preparedness

Protecting Commercial Properties From The Cold

Winter weather is here, and colder temperatures bring the threat of commercial property damage. Are you prepared? Start planning today.

Winter Storm Preparedness: Protecting Commercial Properties From the Cold

A commercial property is one of the most valuable assets to any business. However, lockdowns in 2021 sent a number of these businesses home, leaving commercial buildings vacant for over a year. With this change came a dip in building operations and property preparedness, and by spring, businesses that neglected preparation for winter weather were met with costly seasonal hazards that could have been prevented.

As another winter season approaches, occupants have returned to commercial properties, and the need for systems to keep people and property safe is paramount. The following information is meant to help property owners and managers think proactively to get ahead of disaster.

Winter Storm Preparedness Tips

Winter storms, blizzards, and ice storms bring conditions that can create a wide range of immediate and long-term property damage. Every property is different, and developing a winter storm preparedness plan that scales to meet the needs of a specific property will help operations teams better understand what needs to be done in a high-pressure situation.

Get to Know the Property

Every property is a little bit different. Understanding what makes a particular property unique will help property owners, managers, and facilities teams determine how exactly to prepare.

How old is the property? Knowing just how long the building has been standing will help to determine the age and durability of building materials. And what are those building materials? Wood frames are more easily penetrated by water, but metal and concrete can suffer from erosion and rust.

Does the property have any deferred maintenance? Areas of the property that have previously been damaged are often at higher risk of future issues. Making sure that these areas are known and highlighted in a plan will help with monitoring in a crisis and eventual repair over time.

What’s the grading like outside of the property? If given the opportunity, water will find its way into your property. An assessment of the exterior of the building should include a grading inspection. Areas where water can pool near the building can potentially lead to bigger issues. Know where they are and do what you can to prevent a problem from originating in these locations.

Know the roof and inspect the ceiling indoors. During the winter months, ice damming has the potential to occur on roofs and its effects are far reaching. Keep a close eye on ceiling moisture, and if spotted, have a restoration team address the issue immediately.

Know The Regional Threats

While property damage issues are different for each building, properties in certain geographic regions suffer from additional issues related to type of winter weather. Properties that reside in ice storm regions are more susceptible to ice damming because of the freeze/thaw cycles that cause them. Understanding the type of weather a property will encounter will help property owners and managers know how to prepare for specific events that could be difficult and costly to overcome.

Pay Attention to Changing Weather

The climate is always evolving, and it’s forcing everyone to change the way we prepare for catastrophe. In most cases we learn through experience. For example, the 2021 Texas freeze caused property damage and power outages that lasted for days. The December 6th Kona low cyclone caused record-breaking rainfall that resulted in flash floods and mudslides across the Hawaiian islands. Staying cognizant of changing weather can help properties be prepared for unexpected events like these.

Cold Weather Protection Tips

Here are a few fast and easy ways to mitigate property damage this season.

Use protective coverings like pipe foam to wrap around exposed water-carrying pipes that don’t get radiant heat. These can often be found in basements and other rooms where temperatures are colder.

Identify and repair any cracks in surrounding walls. In some cases, leaks can penetrate these cracks and bring water damage into the property. In other cases, these cracks offer a way for heat to escape, cooling rooms that need to be warm.

Check the temperature wherever it may drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. These rooms are at higher risk for freezing incidents.

Locate the water shut off valves. Knowing their location is a simple way to mitigate any future damage caused by a pipe burst or sprinkler system malfunction. Once this location has been determined, all teams should be notified so they can react quickly should an incident occur.

Set up routine generator maintenance. ​​Many buildings operate with a back-up generator for sudden or unexpected power outages.  Winter storms bring a particularly challenging situation as low temps can cause diesel fuel delivery issues.  Every preparedness plan should include routine generator maintenance and run cycles to ensure your generator is ready to go at a moment’s notice.  Additionally, establishing a dependable fuel delivery program is a must. 

Inspect your sprinkler system and other basement pipes. A frozen pipe in a sprinkler system can put your entire business at risk. These systems are designed to help put out fires, so the water release is fast. Some systems release up to 24 gallons of water per minute. A sprinkler system pipe burst or malfunction will quickly cause large scale water damage in minutes.

Inspect all heat sources and repair any that need maintenance. The last thing a property needs is a failing heater in the middle of winter. Replacing a faulty heater with unorthodox heating methods can be hazardous and even cause a fire damage event.

Have a plan to protect sensitive equipment and keep employees safe in the event of a power loss. This means putting together emergency supplies like water, food, and flashlights so occupants aren’t left in the dark and facilities teams can attend to any equipment that needs eyes on it.

Have a communication plan to keep employees and other occupants in the building in the know. Winter weather incidents can occur without warning. Knowing how to communicate with on-site people in all scenarios is an absolute need. Great communication allows teams to work together more effectively.

Winter Storm Preparedness Checklist

First Onsite has compiled a winter storm checklist to assist properties in building their own response plan. Here are some of the details shared.

Winter Storm Checklist for Property Owners

Use this checklist to keep buildings safe season after season.

  • Inspect building exteriors in the spring and fall, at a minimum
  • Routine checks at least once a week (or more during storm conditions)
  • Check HVAC systems, window condition, and insulation
  • Install smart home or cloud-based technology to manage heating and cooling systems externally

First Onsite is The Complete Solution to Overcome Property Damage

First Onsite is your trusted, full-service disaster restoration and reconstruction company, serving North America and beyond. We partner with you to prepare for the threat of catastrophe and to be the first team on site after disaster strikes.

Our team in your area is backed by national resources, and we scale to meet the needs of your property, regardless of size. We have the experience to respond to your property needs, and we stay a step ahead of disaster so you can too.

We are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and you can request our services at any time.

 

Learn more about protecting your commercial property from winter weather damages by downloading our Winter Weather Guide and Checklist.

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