How to Maintain Your Commercial Property During Winter

The winter months can be harsh.

Sure, there are holiday celebrations and seasonal festivities. But, the short days, long nights, and bitter cold can make the season unpleasant for people and property alike. And, of course, there’s the snow: great for sledding and snowmen, not as great for sidewalks and parking lots.

If you own commercial property, it’s important to properly prepare for the winter months. With preparation, you’ll be able to enjoy the winter weather, instead of worrying that it will ruin your property investment.

Here are four ways to maintain your commercial property during the winter, offered with the expertise earned from years of weathering winter with commercial real estate in Frederick, MD.

  1. Don’t Let the Pipes Freeze

This may be the first building component that springs to mind when the temperatures dip below freezing. Are the pipes protected?

If the pipes in your commercial property aren’t protected from freezing temperatures, the water inside them will be in danger of freezing. And, as water freezes, it expands, which puts pressure on the interior of the pipes.

Ultimately, frozen pipes often end up cracking causing leaking or bursting – creating significant damages in the process.

Make sure that your pipes are protected. This will mean:

  • Ensuring that exterior pipes such as exterior hose bibs have been turned off inside the building. If no shut-off valve exists a plumber should be able to easily install one to help prevent water damage from frozen pipes.
  • If you have decorative fountains outside make sure they are drained and the water lines have had all water removed according to the manufacturer instructions.
  • Maintaining interior facility temperatures of at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This will provide sufficient heating to keep pipes from freezing while being mindful of energy consumption.
  • Adding additional insulation to vulnerable pipes such as those in exterior walls or ceilings that may be subject to the outside air temperature.

Don’t let cold temperatures wreak havoc on your property. Protect your pipes.

  1. Plan for Snow

Snow is great for winter activities, but it also can bring the activity at your commercial property to a screeching halt – or, worse, damage building and grounds.

There are two main factors to preparing your commercial property for the winter snow.

Plan for Snow Removal

If you don’t have a snow removal company lined up long before the first flakes fall, you’ll have a tough time trying to find someone when the storm hits. Every person and plow will be accounted for and they will clear the properties that they have previously agreed to contracts for first and your parking lots and sidewalks will be the last ones cleared.

Instead, make sure to have a snow removal plan in place as you head into winter and make sure that the snow removal contractor understands your desires and policies:

  • How often will they clear your property? Every inch? Every three?
  • How will they handle sidewalk and parking lot ice? How often should salt or ice melt be applied per day? And most importantly make sure only ice melt which DOES NOT include salt is used on your concrete areas. Salt damages concrete but works great on asphalt!
  • How will they handle curbs and parking lot navigation when the snow is deep? Will they install curb markers in advance so that when deep snow hits they can still navigate the parking lot without damaging the curbs?
  • If the snow is so deep that piles need to be made does your contractor know where is an acceptable place to create these piles that do not interrupt the use of the parking lot, do not damage landscaping and does not block stormwater drains?

Protect Against Snow Damage

In addition to planning for snow removal, make sure to protect against snow damage.

As snow falls, melts and re-freezes it can harm surfaces like sidewalks and asphalt parking lots causing cracking and even potholes. Improper chemical usage can harm surfaces, too – for instance, if you use salt to melt snow on concrete, the surface will get damaged ultimately resulting in future reapir issues.

Using sealants beforehand is one way to protect surfaces because it helps to prevent the water from getting into the surface and then expanding once it freezes. The reality, though, is that snow and variant temperatures will wear out any surface over time. You’ll need to inspect surfaces before and after winter and make periodic repairs as necessary to prevent more expensive repairs and to keep them in top condition.

  1. Make Sure the Heat Works

In addition to planning for the protection of your property’s exterior, it’s worthwhile to ensure that your property’s interior environment is optimized for winter, too.

That means making sure that your heating and ventilation systems are in working order – ideally, before the cold hits. If your heating system isn’t adequate, your occupants may resort to space heaters, which may cause fire risks.

Optimizing your property’s heating systems may mean:

  • Giving your system a test run before cold temperatures hit to affirm basic function.
  • Scheduling an HVAC checkup to identify any potential issues and as always changing filters.
  • Caulking windows and doors in older buildings to prevent heat leakage.
  • It is also very helpful to have a service contract with a licensed and insured HVAC company because many of them offer priority response times to contract customers which means that if you have a heating issue you will receive service before someone who does not have a service contract.
  1. Don’t Let the Lights Go Out

Finally, while snow and cold are what most property owners think of first, winter’s reduced daylight will also impact your commercial property. Lighting systems take on greater importance.

As the days get shorter, property lighting systems are on for up to 50% longer each night. This additional lighting usage can cause lighting outages more quickly at the building entry and exit lights, walkway lights, and parking lot lights – all of which are important for safety and security. This is increasingly important because it is dark at 5:00 p.m. in the winter, a time when employees and customers are leaving your facility.

So, prepare for winter by making sure that all lighting is ready to go. And, throughout the winter, monitor lights and bulbs to ensure that your occupants have the visibility level that they need.

Don’t let the lights go out.

Property Management Lets You Enjoy the Winter

If you follow these four tips, you’ll be well on your way to maintaining your commercial property in the winter months.

Want to take the worry out of winter? Get in touch with us.

At Rockpoint Commercial, we help property owners with our property management services. We know that winter can be tough. But we’ve weathered Frederick, Maryland’s toughest winters – and we can make sure that your commercial real estate in Frederick, Maryland is protected for this season and beyond.

Let us help, so that you can stop worrying about winter’s effect on your property and enjoy the season instead.