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Winterization Tips for Your Business

thick icicles hanging from ice covered roof

Here are some hot tips to keep you from getting clobbered by the cold.

As a business owner, there are lots of things you can control. Unfortunately, the weather isn't one of them. But with these planning tips from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, you can help prepare your commercial buildings for even the worst the season sends your way.

Ice dams

When snow melts from interior heat, it can refreeze at your roof's edge, where temperatures are cooler. This ice build-up (commonly called an ice dam) blocks drainage and can force water under the roof covering and into the attic and interior walls. Commercial buildings with flat roofs are particularly vulnerable to water leaks if ice dams keep water from flowing into roof drains.

To decrease the likelihood of ice dams, or at least reduce their size:

  • Make sure your attic is well ventilated. The colder the attic, the less melting and refreezing on the roof.
  • Keep your attic floor well insulated to minimize the amount of heat rising through the attic from the rest of the house.
  • As an extra precaution, install an ice-and-water barrier under your roof covering.

Freezing pipes

Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are particularly vulnerable to freezing. To reduce the likelihood of one bursting:

  • Fit exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping to slow heat transfer. The more insulation the better.
  • Use caulk to seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes.
  • Keep cabinet doors open during cold spells to allow warm air to circulate around pipes.
  • Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through an unheated or unprotected space.

Fire sprinkler systems

To help prevent water from freezing within fire protection sprinkler systems and water pipes:

  • Install insulation or heat trace tape with a reliable power source on sprinkler system piping.
  • Install UL approved gas or electric heaters in unheated sprinkler control valve / fire pump rooms.
  • Use a constantly attended central station to monitor sprinkler systems. This not only provides early detection of water flows resulting from a fire, but helps prevent sprinkler pipe ruptures or a damaged sprinkler head from going unnoticed for hours.
  • Place a monitored automatic excess flow switch on the main incoming domestic water line to provide early detection of a broken pipe or valve during after hours.

For more information on ways to protect property from other natural disasters, go to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety website and select the risk under the Get Started tab.

These recommendations were developed using generally accepted safety standards. Compliance with these recommendations is not a guarantee that you will be in conformance with any building code, federal, state or local regulation regarding safety or fire. Compliance with these recommendations does not ensure the absolute safety of your occupation, business or residence. It is the property owner's duty to warn any tenants or occupants of the property of any safety hazards that may exist.

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