Winters in Texas both unpredictable. This is compounded in West Texas where the region lies on the edge of the plains and the desert. One fall and winter can be extremely mild with very few cold days. Other seasons may contain multiple rounds of snow and ice with very low temperatures.
Before the cold temperatures arrive, or the possibility of cold temperatures arrive, buildings should be prepped to handle the extremes. Failure to winterize properly can lead to small hassles and major repair projects involving insurance. When winter storms such as the infamous winter storm in February of 2021 arrive, even winterized properties are at risk for damage.
There is no guarantee that taking these measures will prevent any damage from occurring. However, performing these maintenance items up front can save time, money, and administrative headaches on the back-end.
Since we are in Texas, we begin the preventative maintenance at the end of Summer, in August. This gives us time to address any issues discovered before any of the cold temperatures arrive.
Steps we take to winterize your properties
Inspect Heating Systems
Our team pairs with vendors to perform complete over views of the heating systems. Most of the time, only small issues are discovered such as unresponsive thermostats. In some cases major system components need to be repaired or replaced.
Since we manage properties ranging from warehouses to multi-story office property, the type of heating systems inspected also vary. We work with trusted vendors that are experts in these various heating systems.
These heating system inspections are important because they:
- Ensure vacant properties are projected from freezing temperatures
- Keep tenants comfortable in their workspace
- Catch major issues before they become emergencies
- Allow our staff to learn the various heating systems for easier maintenance
- Gives our property owners peace of mind
Check Piping and Water Shut-Offs
Properties can have different points of pipe exposure, based on the type of property. Often, more rural, industrial properties have water wells. These wells often have piping from the well underground to the structure. Ensuring these wells are covered and property insulated can help prevent cracking.
Piping in ceilings and walls can also be susceptible to freezing temperatures, especially if in a warehouse. If the warehouse is vacant, it may be prudent to shut-off water to the warehouse. If occupied, shop heater functionality needs to be tested to ensure it will remain warm enough in the shop.
In tenant occupied buildings, our team will recommend dripping water from faucets to prevent freezing. Note this this will not be applicable for larger office buildings but can be especially impacted on the smaller or industrial properties. Opening cabinet doors also helps to circulate heat from the room to piping under sinks and in restrooms.
Once piping has been located and inspected, all water shut-off locations are documented. In the event of a crisis or leak, water-loss can be reduced or eliminated with quick shut-offs.
Prep for Snow and Ice
As property managers, one of the most important rolls we play for a property owner is liability reduction and management. Safety is our number one concern. Safety for tenants, patrons, visitors, our owners and our stuff. Snow and Ice on sidewalks and entrances can be dangerous which opens up property owners for potential injury issues.
Before each winter, we always ensure that we have enough ice-melt to deal with even the worst case scenarios. During extreme winters such as 2020-2021, this can be a significant amount of ice-melt. Our team has a schedule for applying the melt early in the morning before work days begin and throughout the day as needed.
With ordering anything, it is important to note the supply chain condition ahead of time. We now begin purchasing ice-melt earlier in the year to ensure we have it on hand should we have winter weather earlier than expected.
Our team has a 24/7 on call schedule that rotates to address emergency storm and ice issues. Emergency phone numbers including utility companies, city contacts, etc. should be documented and easily accessible for emergency situations.
Monitor Parking Lots and Walkways
Parking lots and sidewalks can also show significant wear after seasons of freezing and thawing. It is important to note conditions of the parking lot routinely leading up to winter.
Cracks and potholes should be noted and addressed ahead of time, if appropriate. Sealing and coating problem areas in parking lots can mitigate damage due to temperatures or precipitation. Periodic patching of potholes is relatively inexpensive and also a good way to maintain the quality of the lot.