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Winterizing your Facility: The Starting Point

winterizing facility

 

For most of the country, the transition from fall to winter has actually been relatively mild this year—a great reprieve after last year’s “Polar Vortex.” But, if you think we’re out of the woods, think again: meteorologists are already dubbing the term “Gozilla El Nino” to describe the weather patterns ahead of us. You better step it up in your facility management so you can limit the damage that winter brings, especially after historic highs of snowfall in Boston, Chicago, and other northern areas of the country. 

 

With such rough conditions around the bend, it’s a great time to make sure that your building has been sufficiently “winterized.” Doing so not only improves the comfort of tenants, but can also prevent unnecessary wear and tear (thus limiting the scope of spring’s repairs).

 

A few simple places to get this process started:

 

Drafts & Air Leaks —

If cold air is already blowing through the wall of your facility, it’s only going to get worse as the temperature drops. But, drafts aren’t just a problem of comfort: cold air coming in means that warm air is escaping. Without correcting these issues, it’s likely that your building will see higher-than-necessary utility bills and a systemic overworking of furnaces.

 

Additionally, a facility with large, empty rooms will benefit from keeping doors closed and partitioning off spaces to maintain warmth only where it’s needed. And, if any departments (such as reception) are near frequently opened doors, it may be worthwhile to invest in a space heater rather than overcorrecting the building as a whole.

 

Early System Maintenance —

If you’re running furnace repairs on the first truly cold day of the year, chances are you’re doing something wrong. That is a sure warning sign that your facility is at risk for several maintenance issues like burst pipes and structural damage.

 

Preventative maintenance for core winter systems should be checked a month or more before they’re needed so that any necessary corrections—from changing air filters to installing a new furnace—are already in place when bad weather hits.

 

Pipes & Gutters —

If you’re in a facility that frequently sees thermometers with low (or negative) numbers, it’s important to make sure that pipes are sufficiently insulated to prevent freezing and bursting. To this effect, you may also need to keep office temperatures set a bit higher than normal over the holidays, even if your building will be empty. And, if your organization has long periods of expected vacancy, you’ll still want to check the building once every few days to ensure nothing has gone wrong.

 

Exterior drainage systems should be looked at too. A clogged gutter is a headache regardless of season, but winter brings the potential to freeze standing water, thus turning an overhead puddle into a large, dangerous block of ice.

 

In sum, there’s plenty for facility managers to do today to prevent problems tomorrow. What other steps does your building take to ensure a comfortable (and efficient) winter?

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