The arrival of the first storms of this winter reminds us we could be facing some potentially challenging weather over the next few months and we need to be ready for it. That includes making sure buildings are as prepared as they can be. And while some extreme consequences of the weather, such as extensive flooding, can be overwhelming there’s still plenty you can do to be as ready as possible for whatever this winter has in store for us.
Check your heating systems
It’s not much of a surprise to hear us say looking after heating systems should be a priority at this time of year.
Obviously you should be maintaining them all year round to make sure there are no safety implications. But given that they’ll be in for much heavier use at this time of year, it’s particularly important that everything’s functioning well. You can visually check for more obvious issues to some extent, like carbon build up in flues and whether flames are burning cleanly and efficiently but do make sure your system’s had a full service in line with its schedule.
And put steps in place to protect pipes and other parts of the system that could be vulnerable if the temperature falls too low. While you’re at it, check your insulation too. There’s considerably less benefit from having your heating on if it’s then being lost because of poor insulation.
Inspect doors and windows
While we’re on the subject of losing heat, remember that badly maintained doors and windows can be another route for warm air to escape out of and, at same time, for water to leak into. Water seepage can lead to mildew and mould that’ll affect air quality and even make it dangerous. So get them checked and seal gaps between windows or doors and exterior walls.
Prevent slips and falls
Obviously this is something you should do all year round. But winter brings with it additional hazards in the form of snow and ice.
You need to keep ahead of freezing and thawing cycles to avoid nasty slips and falls that can be caused by snow and black ice. So make sure you’ve someone who’s responsible for monitoring the weather forecast and who can initiate action if it looks like snow or ice is imminent.
That means making sure you have adequate snow clearance and de-icing materials or, depending on the nature of your site, it might mean arranging a contract for gritting and snow clearance. Identify the priority areas at your sites; where are the major entrances, walkways and routes that must be kept clear? Apply de-icers before the bad weather if possible. And invest in some good quality floor mats as they’ll reduce the risk of people slipping on wet flooring inside the building as well as protect the flooring from any de-icer brought in on footwear.
Check your roof drainage
Snow, ice and rain can cause major issues if there are any problems with your building’s roof. Get membranes and seams checked and make sure flashings, roof edge waterproofing and seals are all intact and secure. Identify any areas where water, ice or heavy snow could accumulate and put a plan in place for removing it quickly.
Check guttering too. It’s essential for controlling the drainage from rain and melting snow and ice. But all you need is a significant downpour or a fast warm up after heavy snow and if you’ve a blocked gutter or drain you could be at risk of flooding inside and outside your building. So give all guttering a thorough clean to remove debris and unclog your drains so the water has somewhere to go.
Minimise the impact of power outages
Power lines can be affected by all kinds of bad weather conditions and while you might not be able to prevent an outage, there are many things you can do to minimise the disruption if one occurs.
If you have backup power sources, check them regularly to make sure they’ll operate if needed. Connect all computers and electrical equipment to appropriate surge protectors (either individual or building) to protect against the sudden voltage increase when power comes back on. And make sure all company data is backed up regularly to reduce the risk of sudden loss of data.
Need some help getting your building ready for winter?
Cold weather can certainly present plenty of challenges for building maintenance. But by doing some preparation now, you’ll be in a better position to deal with those challenges and to be confident you’re keeping your premises safe for all the people using it. And if you think you could do with some extra help getting your buildings and grounds ready for winter then do get in touch with us.