Prevent Common Winter Losses with Early-Season Maintenance

Winter 2013-2014 was one of the coldest on record in parts of the Midwest, according to the government’s official monthly climate report recently released. Due to the severe cold temperatures and the amount of snowfall we had, there was not a lot of meltdown either. It is likely that you or someone you know experienced some type of freezing, collapse damage, or slip and fall injuries.

Early preparation is one way to combat potential untimely losses.

To prevent freeze damage:

  • Examine water lines and reduce exposures to potential freezing temperatures by checking the outside for areas of air infiltration. If found, seek remedies to correct these.
  • In the interior, check ceiling cavities such as above suspended ceilings for possible breezes. Sprinkler lines in these areas or unheated vestibules are common areas where freeze damage can occur. Using heat tape or shutting off supply lines to outdoor spigots may be an option.
  • Make sure proper heat is on in the building. Although there is no academic origin in using 55 degrees Fahrenheit for a thermostat setting, this is recommended as a low point for setting your thermostat.
  • Note that most thermostats are closer to a heat source, not in a wall cavity where the temperature is cooler and where most water lines are located. Open cabinets where supply lines are located to allow more heat to enter these areas.
  • If the building is vacant, shut off the supply line and drain the water lines. Drains with P-traps should be cleared of water and filled with non-toxic antifreeze to prevent sewer gases from entering the structure.

To prevent roof collapse damage:

  • Intermittently rake or shovel roofs.
  • Periodically check roof drains to make sure they are kept free and open.

To prevent slip and fall injuries:

  • Obtain ice melt or salt early in the season to protect your employees, guests and customers from slip and fall exposures. These products might be hard to find or at an increased cost later in the winter season.
  • Find more tips on protecting your business from slips and falls here.
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