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Happy New Year!! It is that time of year when Texas residents start preparing their properties for the few weeks of winter weather that we actually receive.  As exciting as the cold weather can be, it can also cause severe damage to homes and businesses.  I am sure we all remember the devastation that Winter Storm Uri caused in February of 2021.  

Winter storms caused a record $15 billion in insured losses in 2021.  This was almost entirely due to the February 12 to 22 winter storms that affected a large area of the United States, especially Texas.  By definition, winter storms include snow, ice, freezing and flooding all of which can have catastrophic results on properties that are not prepared.  Below is a list of tips on how to prepare your commercial building prior to the next winter storm. 

  • Know your roof’s maximum snow load 
    • When it comes to the weight of snow, the type of snow is important as the depth of the snow.  Fresh powder snow is typically lighter then wet packed snow, and ice is heavier than snow.
    • There are several contributing factors to the acting load on your roof that include snow drifts from adjacent buildings, mechanical equipment, and melting snow that freezes.  If you don’t know your roof’s snow load, it is recommended to hire a structural engineer to verify the snow load threshold of the roofing system.
  • Prevent plumbing from freezing
    • Inspect and seal/repair all cracks, holes, leaks, windows and doors on exterior walls with insulation or caulk to prevent cold air from entering the wall cavity. 
    • Insulate and seal around attic penetrations such as partition walls, vents, plumbing stacks and all mechanical chases. 
    • Wrap pipes and faucets in unheated or minimally heated area of the building.
    • Make sure pipes in hard to reach places such as attics, crawl spaces, and along outside walls are insulated. 
    • Hire a licensed fire protection specialist to conduct routine maintenance on your sprinkler system. Discuss the potential expose to winter weather and mitigation options.  
  • Maintain your HVAC system
    • Hire a licensed HVAC company to do preventative maintenance and make sure the system is operating properly and efficiently.  Loss of heat, even for a few hours could significantly disrupt your business.  
    • Change any air filters and check that exhaust gases are being ventilated properly.  
  • Service your generator
    • Make sure and follow the manufacturer’s specifications in regard to maintenance plans for weekly, monthly, and annual checks on permanent generators.  
    • Check the generator enclosure for loos debris or other conditions that could cause the unit to not function properly 
    • For portable generators make sure they are stored in a dry location and set up a maintenance schedule that includes periodic test runs of the unit. 
  • Winterize your landscaping and irrigation
    • Shut off and drain your irrigation system and outdoor hoses. 
    • Pay close attention to trees within falling distance of overhead power lines leading to the property. 
    • Keep all trees and bushes trimmed and away from the building.  Trees with branches near or hanging over the building can damage the roof, siding, and windows. 

The Gerloff Company would like to wish you and your family a Happy and Prosperous New Year! until next time my friends, be prepared and stay safe.

Reference: “Nine budget-friendly ways to prepare your commercial building BEFORE the winter season” by