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Commercial Building Maintenance: Tips to Avoid Winter-Related Insurance Claims

Severe weather like heavy snow, blizzards, ice, harsh winds and other winter elements can result in lasting damage to your commercial property. If you want to avoid filing insurance claims and possibly losing money, follow this building maintenance checklist.

Upkeep the Building’s Heating Systems

For the winter months, it’s important to maintain proper heat in all buildings, including unoccupied spaces. Start by assessing the condition of your HVAC system. Your inspection should include assessment of:

  • The performance of your HVAC systems
  • Energy consumption metrics
  • Thermostats and temperature controllers
  • Humidifiers and humidity controllers
  • Blowers and hoses
  • Drain traps and condensation levels
  • Air vents
  • Air filters in outside air conditioning units, including rooftops and furnaces

Make sure you monitor the situation for build-up, cracks and worn-out equipment. If you hear strange sounds, see abnormal moisture, or smell foul odour inside any of the units, this may be a sign of malfunction. At a minimum, set the temperature at 65 degrees Fahrenheit/18 degrees Celsius. It is essential to inspect heating systems to avoid one of the most common causes of damage to buildings: frozen and bursting pipes. Most property insurance policies require heating to maintained during winter months to maintain coverage. Regardless of whether you are currently using the space, make sure it’s well looked after.

Check the Insulation

It is necessary to check the quality of the building’s insulation. Pay close attention to areas where there may be heat loss like windows, doors, roofs and attics. Data shows that a poorly insulated attic may result in 25% heat loss during colder months.

There are many options available for insulation like blanket style insulation, rigid insulation, foam insulation and other cost-effective and easy-to-use varieties.

Prep Your Plumbing

When pipes freeze, the water inside expands, causing increased pressure inside the pipes. The pressure can make the pipes crack and potentially burst. This may result in floods that can cause structural damage that has long-term repercussions to your property. Wrap pipes and faucets in unheated or minimally heated areas of the building and seal cracks and openings around exposed pipes. Check to make sure the pipes are intact and working on a regular basis, especially if extreme cold is anticipated.

Clean Your Roof

Clearing up the roof is a vital part of winter property maintenance. Damaged roofs can cause issues when there’s snow and ice. To avoid building leaks, assess your roof for loose shingles and holes.

Take Care of the Grounds Outside

As a safety precaution and to avoid accidents, ensure you plow snow and de-ice parking lots and walkways. This can prevent anyone from slipping on your business premises. It is important to spill salt, sand, sawdust or other de-icing materials to avoid any mishaps. Keeping logs of snow accumulation and recording the times you have applied the sand/salt will help protect you in case of a potential claim. While the winter is slippery, property owners and managers are required to maintain reasonably safe access to your property.

Devise an Emergency Plan

At any time, ready yourself with a plan in the case of a disaster. Ensure anyone working or visiting your premises is updated on safety protocols and escape plans.

It is also recommended to have a list of contractors handy in case you experience a building problem during the winter.

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