How to Prep a Commercial Building for Winter Temperatures? – 6 Pro Tips

Missouri is known for its extreme fluctuations in temperature. On any given day of the week, temperatures can fluctuate between 20 or even 30 degrees. It is one of the reasons non-Missourians refer to the state as “Misery.”

According to the Weather Atlas, “The worst time to visit Missouri is from December to February. The cold season occasionally records extreme temperatures that dip below -20°F (-28.9°C) during the night, while the days scarcely cross 40°F (4.4°C).” For a die-hard Missourian, a 40° day in winter seems blissful. If you own a commercial building in the state, winters can be brutal.

Whether it is the rapidly changing temperatures, snow, or ice, make sure your building is ready for the next month or two. Here are six pro tips to help you maintain and prepare your commercial facility for the weeks ahead. 

Tip #1: Check after-hours thermostat settings

As the Weather Atlas suggests, Missouri winter nights can dip below -20°F. To protect pipes from freezing and potentially bursting, make sure your thermostat remains at a steady 50°F – 55°F overnight or for the weekends. Check exposed and interior pipes for signs of freezing. To further protect pipes, consider insulating them. 

Tip #2: Inspection of roof drains and gutters

Consistently frigid temperatures can cause ice build-up in several areas, including drains and gutters. An ”ice dam” is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof. Keeping your roof drains clean and clear of debris helps prevent the problem of ice build-up and overloading on roofs.

Tip #3: Monitor snowfall and accumulation on roofs

Regularly remove snow before accumulations get too great. Flat roofs are especially vulnerable to winter snow damage due to the drifting of snow. In central Missouri, roofs are typically designed for a snow loading of 20 pounds per square foot. Drifting snow can often exceed that loading. 

Before the snow hits, check the seams, membrane, and flashing on your roof. As the snow melts, the water finds the path of least resistance, so seal every area of your roof. Also, be sure to clear snow from roof vents and exhaust pipes. As you are removing snow, be cautious with metal snow shovels or ice chippers. You do not want to damage the roof surface. If you are not capable of removing the snow, have a snow removal service on standby.

In winter, check your roof for “ice dams,” as well. These dams build up along the eaves of a building and can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to back up and pour into your structure. Ice dams also prevent melting snow from draining off the roof. 

Tip #4: Know and have a diagram for shut-off locations

When winter weather strikes hard, be prepared to shut off individual systems. Know the shut-off location for the water, electrical, and gas mains. Regularly test emergency generators and fire protection systems. Check tree limbs around the building. An ice storm could cause power outages when tree limbs fall. In case you are not available, make sure there is a detailed diagram of all information. 

Tip #5: Protect employees and customers starting on the outside

Keep driveways and walkways clear of ice and snow using sand, chemical pellets, or salt. Invest in quality floor mats to maintain safety indoors. Regularly inspect outdoor lighting. The winter months remain darker longer. Therefore, people will often leave your building in the dark. 

Tip #6: Regular inspection of all systems

Your HVAC system works harder in the winter. Be sure you regularly inspect and service it. Examine roofs, weather stripping, and insulation for holes or leaks and repair to prevent energy loss. Inspect the building for cracks, corrosion, or other damage.

Although the winter season may be almost over, the chance for bad weather isn’t. Missouri has snowstorms as late as April some years. Be prepared. A little planning can lead to a much easier Spring. 

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