When the leaves start turning colors in the fall, it’s the perfect time to prepare you property for the upcoming winter weather before frost sets in. Winterizing your business not only makes the building more energy efficient, it helps prevent water damage to the property. The preparations also allow you fix small problems before they become expensive and time-consuming inconveniences.
How to Winterize Your Business and Prevent Water Damage
- Prepare your pipes. When water freezes and expands in your pipes, the pressure buildup can cause them to burst. During the fall, ensure that all exterior pipes, pipes along exterior walls, and indoor pipes in unheated areas of the building have sufficient insulation. Pre-slit polyethylene insulation is a good solution for indoor pipes. After draining outside pipes, add flexible elastomeric insulation and cover the spigots. When pipes are in tight spaces or have several bends, use reinforced foam insulating tape instead.
- Add insulation. Insulation keeps warmth where you want it. Conduct an energy audit to learn if the building has sufficient insulation, particularly in the attic and along exterior walls. Cover the water heater with a manufacturer-approved blanket or cover, especially if it’s in an un-insulated area. If the building doesn’t use high-efficiency windows, consider using window shrink-film kits to reduce the amount of cold air that enters the building.
- Have a temporary heating solution. If the HVAC system fails, have a backup option in place to maintain a comfortable working environment. Temporary heating may also help reduce the risk of pipes freezing or bursting, which could eventually cause water damage to the property
- Schedule professional maintenance for your heating and cooling systems. Contractors are more available during the fall. Take advantage of this by scheduling inspection and maintenance services for the building’s HVAC system. The professional tune-up will make the comfort systems run more efficiently and improve the quality of indoor air. It also allows a contractor to find and fix problems before the busy winter season. The HVAC technician may suggest that you cover an outdoor air conditioning unit and close the respective vents. If you haven’t had the ductwork cleaned or inspected in the last five years, the fall is a good time to complete this task.
- Inspect the building. Look around the exterior of the building and seal cracks and holes that you find in the walls, including those where utilities enter the building. Inspect the weather stripping around exterior doors and windows to ensure that it’s sufficient and in good shape for the winter. As you look at the exterior of the building, make sure the gutters aren’t clogged and that downspouts direct water away from the structure. Hire a plumber to inspect the backflow system, particularly if you live in a flood zone. If you plan to use gas lines that were dormant during the summer, hire a professional to inspect the lines for leaks. Test all the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and change the batteries. In addition, have fire extinguishers inspected annually and make sure the contents have not expired.
If your business is in an area that’s susceptible to freezing temperatures or severe winter weather, it’s vital to have a disaster plan in place. This plan should outline how to prepare the building for the winter and extra steps to take if the forecast calls for unusually severe weather. In addition, Polygon offers services to help your business build a business continuity plan to deal with the aftermath of a winter incident – like burst pipes – to mitigate further losses. Polygon specializes in quick, effective water damage restoration that minimizes business interruptions and prevents future problems.
If your area tends to experience extreme winter weather, know your risks and take precautions accordingly. By preparing up front you can save on energy costs and prevent costly property damage. Preparing your business for winter weather may seem like a big task, but the efforts will pay for themselves in the long run.
Photo by mbtphoto (away a lot) via CC license