Preventative Maintenance Tips for Winter

By: Bob Baumann, NEST Capital Improvements & Construction Manager

The winter months may seem far away, but cold days and even colder nights are right around the corner for much of the country. In fact, forecasts for the upcoming winter season predict “freezing, frigid and frosty” conditions will affect large swaths of the Midwest, Northeast and New England. Climate scientists anticipate this trend of extreme weather will continue to escalate over time, which means we may face massive Nor’easters and “bomb cyclones” with even greater frequency in the future. These powerful storms often produce strong winds that can result in uprooted trees, power outages, and in some areas, increased coastal flooding. 

Snow, sleet and freezing rain can cause considerable damage to your facilities if you’re not prepared, which is why it’s important to take stock of your supplies and get organized before temperatures start to drop.  

To ensure all your bases are covered, here’s a checklist to help you establish a comprehensive preventative maintenance schedule:

  • Conduct a Thorough Inspection

Start by making the rounds at each facility, checking for issues such as leaks, drafts and cracks that can cause your energy bills to skyrocket. Inspect gas lines for signs of corrosion and repair or replace old parts to keep safety concerns at bay. Don’t neglect your outdoor spaces, either; this means inspecting your property for potential dangers such as weak tree limbs or cracked pavement.

  • Tune Up HVAC Equipment

Take advantage of National Tune-Up Day on September 25, a day when residential and commercial building owners are encouraged to tune up their heating systems in preparation for winter. Check for regular wear and tear and replace worn or broken parts that may affect the efficiency of your HVAC units. It’s also advisable to clean air filters and duct systems to safeguard against health risks and save on energy costs.

  • Prepare for Power Outages

Hurricane season isn’t the only time of year to prepare for power outages—winter storms are often accompanied by high winds, and ice accumulation on power lines can lead to blackouts. Emergency lighting and backup generators are a must, especially for facilities located in remote areas. It’s also critical to communicate any emergency plans across your network of facilities professionals and providers so that all invested parties are kept in the loop if and when an outage occurs.

  • Focus on Floor Care

Floors take a beating during the winter when water, ice and salt get tracked indoors. Depending on your location and the severity of weather conditions, it may be worthwhile to increase the number of floor cleanings you schedule during the winter season. All-weather mats placed at each entrance can also help reduce water and ice-melt product damage.

  • Insulate and Protect Pipes

With the proper insulation and/or heat tape, you can prevent frozen pipes. Be sure to inspect all of your plumbing pipes before the cold weather sets in, especially if your business is located in an older building with outdated fixtures.

The key to mitigating weather-related hazards is to start early and focus on facilities located in remote regions that may be hard to access once a winter storm hits. Craft a disaster preparedness and emergency plan and review it with your entire team so that anyone can pitch in at a moment’s notice. By taking the proper precautions in advance, you and your facilities team will be ready for whatever the winter season has in store.