With temperatures starting to drop, employers and facility managers will benefit from preparing their commercial buildings and grounds for winter weather. The cold months mean conditions can become severe and often have a greater negative impact on the running of your business than any other time of the year. Industrial, retail and commercial facilities that prepare for the cold season will find themselves in a better position. A winter readiness plan will help to ensure safer facilities, reduce emergency repairs and could assist in lowering energy usage.
Once you’ve identified the ways in which winter can impact on your specific business, it’s time to take action.
Here are seven tips to help you get started:
1. Keep ahead of snow and ice
Snow and ice can present both major maintenance and safety problems. To prevent blocked entrances and icy pavements, it’s important to keep ahead of these wintery complications. Every business should create and implement a proper plan and schedule, to avoid problems, disruptions and dangerous slips and falls. Our last couple of winters may have been fairly mild, but there’s no point in taking any chances. Provide clear snow removal instructions to those responsible for it, purchase adequate de-icing materials, identify and address any potential issues snow and ice may cause to roofs, pipes and drainage, and think about installing an emergency generator if outages cause serious disruptions to your business operations.
2. Calibrate your thermostats
Without regular maintenance, your thermostat may lose calibration after a while. Loss of calibration can be caused by a number of things, such as accidental bumping, dirt or skew mounting. This situation can affect a thermostat’s operation and accuracy, and ultimately raise your energy bills unnecessarily. By calibrating your building’s thermostats, you can ensure your heating systems operate more efficiently, thus saving yourself money on energy bills. Another way to make significant cost savings is to lower the temperature, even one degree will prove substantial over the course of a winter.
3. Change your air filters
The beginning of the heating season is a good reminder to change your HVAC systems’ air filters. Dirty air filters increase a system’s energy use and shorten the lifespan of your units. This is a key aspect of your preventive maintenance initiative and will save you a great deal on your energy bills.
4. Inspect doors and windows
Check to make sure your doors and windows aren’t allowing warm indoor air to escape and water to leak in. Inspect all exterior sealing to ensure you are managing to keep the elements at bay and your energy bills down. If there are any openings between window and door frames and exterior walls, use caulking or weather stripping to seal the gaps and to help you avoid energy wastage.
5. Clean gutters and downspouts
Ensure that all your gutters and downspouts are clear of leaves and branches so that they effectively drain water away. This becomes all the more important this time of year; autumn leaves clog gutters and can cause water to back up, which can then freeze and cause ice dams that will damage your roof and sheathing, and could lead to leaks. Downspouts should discharge into storm drains or onto splash blocks that divert the water away from the exterior of your building.
6. Get good entrance mats
This may sound simplistic, but the right entrance mats are your foremost defence in keeping dirt out of your facility. During the winter months, snow, ice-melt and leaves littering your entrance way become serious slipping hazards. Ideally, buildings should have mats placed both outside and inside entrances and exits, giving people greater opportunity to get the dirt and water off their shoes with each step. Not only will this help you minimise the risk of slipping, but it is the best way to help you reduce cleaning costs.
7. Try fend off winter workplace sickness
Coming into cold and flu season, we know that, without fail, this time of year negatively impacts business productivity and costs the UK millions in lost work days. Some simple ways to try reduce the impact of colds and flu include; promote good hygiene, schedule regular surface cleaning, encourage sick employees to head home, provide garment drying facilities for those that walk or cycle in to work in bad weather and ensure employees that work outside in cold conditions have proper protective clothing.
The winter weather brings with it a number of unique challenges for those responsible for building and facility maintenance. Keeping a facility up and running in cold, and sometimes severe, weather requires proper planning and scheduling. A cold weather plan for your facility should be an integral part of your overall maintenance plan, for your building and equipment as well as forming part of your emergency response plan. This will help you limit the possibility of your business being negatively affected by whatever Mother Nature has in store.
Voltix Services are specialists in facilities maintenance, and as winter sets in, we can be the ally that you need. We work with commercial and industrial building owners and managers to identify solutions to reduce negative effects, downtime and to increase building efficiency. The specialised services provided by our highly-skilled and dedicated team enable your business to keep performing at its best.
Voltix Services understand the importance of effective facilities management, and take an open partnership approach with all clients. If you are looking for an effective, comprehensive and exceptional facilities maintenance service, look no further. Visit www.voltixservices.co.uk.