If you run a commercial premises or operate a business that relies on one, you’ll know from experience that winter is the time of year when an expensive disaster is most likely to occur. With weather systems seemingly more extreme with high winds, freezing temperatures and flooding waters becoming a more common occurance, the last thing you need is a major business interruption.
Even with the best will in the world, no reactive or planned maintenance contractor can be expected to handle the perfect storm if several critical items were to become faulty or completely fail all at once. However, with some smart thinking and yearly preparations, you can help to lessen the chances of a disaster occurring by following some common sense approaches that will make life a great deal easier during the colder months and save you potentially thousands in costs.
Even if winter has already arrived, there’s never a better time to start getting your house in order. Here’s seven key critical items you should start to think about dealing with to prevent a disaster from striking:
Have a professional run a complete check over your heating and plumbing systems. If a service is in order, don’t delay. Any sudden change in temperatures could lead to a breakdown which means freezing cold temperatures and an office unfit for working conditions.
If for any reason your offices will remain unoccupied for a prolonged period, such as a Christmas shut down, leave the heating ticking over on a low heat to ensure the premises maintains a reasonable ambient temperature and prevents freezing or burst pipes.
You can also help to reduce heating bills by ensuring all windows and doors are correctly sealed by adding draft excluders or having gaps correctly resealed. If your windows are considered to be old, perhaps even replacement energy efficient windows could be a wise investment for the future.
Check taps and pipework for any drips or leaks. During the cold, any small issues can become a much larger problem very fast so have them repaired as soon as you spot any signs of an issue. Also ensure that pipes are sufficiently insulated to prevent freezing and bursting. Pipe insulation costs pennies yet a leak will cost considerably more to repair.
Always ensure you are fully aware of the location of all stop cocks whether internally or externally, and check they are fully functional. A frozen or ceased up stock cock could mean disaster if you spring a leak, as it will become uncontrollable and could potentially cause massively expensive damage if the water cannot be shut off.
Winter is a time when roofs are more likely to fail. After a long wet autumn, standing water can form, especially on flat roofs and this is when leaks and crack can start to occur.
If you’ve just had a prolonged period of wet weather, check your roofs for any obvious signs of damage, water penetration or standing water. If you spot anything out of the ordinary, have a professional come and check things over. A quick inspection could help prevent a major disaster.
Once autumn has passed, all the leaves from deciduous plants will have fallen and a large percentage of those leaves will have fallen onto roofs forming moss or will have filled up your roof guttering. More often than not, this will cause blockages in downpipes, leading to standing water that is just waiting to freeze during the winter. If this happens, you can expect your gutters and pipes to crack and split, which will means water getting everywhere.
So always schedule an end of season roof and guttering check right before winter really kicks in to ensure all leaves are sufficiently removed.
If heavy snow fall is expected, make sure you have adequate resources to tackle a winter freeze. Grit salts can be supplied by a maintenance company to help make your car parks and entranceways more accessible in freezing conditions. It is also prudent to have a good stock pile of items such as spades, snow shovels and deicers just in case the weather turns bad during working hours and staff need assistance to gain access to and from the premises.
Make sure you have sufficient insurance in place to handle all potential disasters. Also check that your policy is up to date. Businesses can develop and grow fast and it is very easy to overlook items such as your insurance policy schedule. If outdated, you may find that it is not sufficient to cover the scale and size of your present business and it’s operations if a claim is made.
Get a relationship in place with a trusted reactive or planend maintenance contractor. If disaster does strike, you need to know who to call to come to the rescue. So get in touch with a local reputable firm who you can count on if you need help in a hurry.
If you do not currently have a maintenance professional in place, speak to our friendly team here at ECMS and we’ll be happy to discuss your needs, however large or small.