As winter can take a big toll on commercial buildings, now is the time to think about winterization for long-term cost controls. Fortunately, you can take a preventative approach to prepare your commercial building for winter and avoid cold-weather catastrophes.
However, no two commercial buildings are the same, and the needs of each will change according to size, age, location and a variety of other factors, Forbes‘s expert collected 4+1 tips, applicable to most buildings:
1. HVAC – Air quality is critical
Your HVAC system works hard all year long, but it pulls extra weight in the winter. And because the HVAC system affects the air quality throughout the building, it’s critical to service and inspect it before winter sets in.
- Check and change air filters.
- Inspect and repair broken parts.
- Inspect vent work for leaks or holes that might be damaging efficiency.
- Cover all outdoor air-conditioning units that will go unused during the winter.
- Inspect the ventilation system to ensure exhaust gasses are being ventilated out of the building.
- Hire a professional for a full inspection of the HVAC equipment before you run the heat for the first time this season.
2. INSULATING – Stop heating the street
To ensure efficiency, inspect your building’s insulation for holes or compromised areas that could cause heat loss. Consider getting an energy audit, which can really help find the problem areas. Once they are identified, seal them up for considerable cost savings and increased comfort for your tenants.
Pay special attention to roofs, weather stripping and unheated areas, such as attics. It’s often said that a poorly insulated attic can result in a 25% heat loss during the fall and winter.
Insulation methods have advanced in recent years. It’s now possible to get blanket-style insulation, rigid insulation, foam insulation and a variety of other efficient, easy-to-use technologies that will help you save on heating and cooling costs.
3. PIPES – Prepare your plumbing
Frozen pipes and subsequent flooding are some of the most common damages in the winter. In addition to unnecessary downtime for a business, fixing frozen pipes is also expensive. Avoid flooding and burst pipes by making sure all of the existing freeze-protection devices and alarms are in good working order. Test freeze stats and valves before the weather gets cold, wrap pipes and faucets in unheated or minimally heated areas of the building and seal cracks and openings around exposed pipes.
4. ROOFING – On top of everything
The roof is a critically important part of any commercial building. To prevent leaks and other expensive issues, inspect the roof for holes or damage that could cause leaks during snowmelt. Check also for loose shingles and repair damage to existing seals to ensure the roof is structurally sound and capable of withstanding any weather.
+1 Have a disaster plan at hand
If the worst does happen, how will your company cope? Make a plan for a variety of disasters, including fire, flooding and gas leaks. Keep all new and current employees and tenants up-to-date on the protocols, and ensure everyone has a copy of the various escape plans.
Professionals also recommend researching contractors in your area so that you’re prepared if your building experiences a problem this winter. Knowing who you plan to turn to in an emergency can help minimize destruction and speed up repairs.