Each year as winter rolls around, daily life quickly gets hectic for many people amidst the holiday season. While scrambling to buy gifts for loved ones at the last minute, which 25% of people in the United States end up doing each year, it can be easy to lose track of time and neglect to fully prepare for the coming winter.
For those who own office buildings, a bit more care needs to be taken with their business than just making sure the pipes don’t freeze and burst. There is also snow to clear, appliances to repair, and you may even have to complete some small renovation projects or hire a plumber. To make sure you don’t overlook any necessary precautions, below is a checklist detailing why it is important to take steps to ensure the safety of your office building before the temperature drops and how to take them.
Why Winterizing Your Building Matters
Winterizing, or the preparing of a building for all that winter brings, is done for three main reasons: improving the comfort of the building for occupants, preventing potential disasters, and creating an energy-efficient environment that brings big savings along with it. Ensuring the comfort of employees is necessary for productivity. It is way harder to complete a task and focus on something when your teeth are chattering from the cold office you’re working in.
Keep employees as comfortable as possible as to not create any barriers that make it harder for them to complete their assignments. Disaster prevention is another huge reason to winterize your building. The changing of the seasons happens quickly and brings a lot of potential hazards with it. Instead of hoping that no one slips and falls on your walkways when the weather gets bad, be proactive and take measures to ensure no one gets hurt in the first place.
Lastly, when thinking of energy savings, you need to think of how frequently each room is used and how each room is used. If the breakroom is used every day by different people throughout the day, you’ll most likely want to keep the heat at a comfortable temperature daily. If, however, you have a room that is only used sparingly, consider keeping the heat off most of the time and only turning it on when the room is in use. Simply being aware of your surroundings and patterns in your building can lead to major savings down the line. Below are the specifics about where to focus when you are winterizing your building.
Get Your HVAC System Ready
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning affect your entire building, so it is imperative to take the time to hire a professional for proper HVAC service. After all, it is easier to do a preventative tune-up now rather than wait and see if something big goes wrong down the line. The autumn months are a great time to begin preventative maintenance such as inspecting boilers and furnaces, changing air filters, and making any other repairs. If you plan a bit and hire your maintenance worker during the fall, their availability will likely be more open to fit your schedule and their pricing may be cheaper in the fall than if they were hired in the winter under more of a time crunch. Remember that HVAC service, in addition to keeping your business up and running, can also be an opportunity to save money in the long run if you shut down unused cooling machines and set space thermostats to lower temperatures.
Keep Your Building’s Electrical System Up to Speed
Ensuring the building has a safe and reliable electrical system is especially important leading into the wintertime as power outages tend to increase with colder, windier weather. It is a good idea to work with a commercial electrical company of your choice to guarantee any necessary larger repairs are completed professionally and safely.
Also, take this time to double-check that all computers and other electrical equipment are connected to a surge protector so the potential damage done to electronics in the middle of a blackout is kept to a minimum. Keeping the possibility of blackouts in mind, consider hiring another professional for generator installation. A generator in your office can save valuable time by making sure that work is done before a power outage isn’t lost. A generator means that all work can still be saved if the power goes out, and business can continue as usual instead of grinding to a halt.
Plow and Salt Your Parking Lots and Walkways
Figuring out who will plow your parking lots and walkways is essential. Consider paying for a snow plowing service from a local business you trust and set a recurring schedule with them. You can also opt to hire people to plow your lots and walkways on an as-needed basis if you live somewhere with infrequent snow. Properly salt your walkways and parking lots so the ground has good traction and injuries are reduced.
The bottom line is you want to have precautions in place to avoid a worst-case scenario like an employee slipping on snow and ice and getting seriously hurt. Employees are invaluable assets to your business, and you don’t want anyone to get hurt. It can also be very stressful to hire your own lawyer to oppose someone else’s personal injury lawyer, so it is best to put measures in place that prevent that from even becoming a possibility.
Maintain the Flooring
While salting walkways is necessary to keep pathways functional, salting creates a bit of a problem when it comes to indoor flooring and safety in general. People going in and out of the office will inevitably track snow, dirt, and salt onto the floor. This causes several problems for your business including more slipping hazards for workers as well as the possibility of water damage or big gouges on the flooring.
No one wants to drop everything in the dead of winter to hire a water damage restoration service to fix the floors. Instead, you should acquire rugs with grippy, rubber backing and place them inside near the doorways for an easy solution. This way, people have a place to wipe their feet so they don’t track salt or snow through the whole building. Investing in rugs for your building’s entranceway could save you a ton of money down the line, reducing your need for hiring a flooring service.
Further Preparing Your Lobby
In addition to putting down appropriate rugs to keep people and flooring safe, it is a good idea to add other small but impactful items and practices to your lobby. Add more frequent deep cleaning of the office into your schedule. This is important to help maintain the flooring and it is important to keep people from getting sick.
It is flu season, so do all you can to keep yourself and your business team healthy. Adding hand sanitizer to the main desk and on any tables in community areas is never a bad idea. Inspect the lobby by doing a quick sweep of the full area. If any areas are hazardous, or if you simply want people to avoid certain areas in the winter to keep them pristine, think about adding signage around the room to direct people to where you would like them to go.
Inspect Your Building’s Water Heater
It is easy for an office building’s water heater to become a kind of “out of sight, out of mind” fixture, but it is better to be proactive and make sure the building’s water heater is running as it should heading into winter. It is important to create a comfortable business environment for employees in the building.
Making sure employees have access to hot water throughout the day can help achieve this as they make coffee and wash up throughout the day. Inspecting the water heater is another instance where you should hire a professional to ensure the job is being done thoroughly and correctly. Once you’ve found a commercial boiler repair business you trust, you can look into hiring an excellent plumber. You will want your plumber to be diligent, checking the circuit breakers, piolet light, water tank igniters, and more. If you are unsure about where to begin your search for an excellent worker, you can do some online research and read reviews of plumbers from their previous employers.
Insulate Your Building’s Windows
Both for the sake of comfort regarding the employees working in your building and for the sake of running an energy-efficient business, make sure you insulate your building’s windows. Before reaching for the thermostat when you’re cold, consider insulating your windows with either caulk, window insulation film, or weather stripping. You can find these items at your local hardware store and install them yourself to effectively cut some costs.
If your office building has a certain aesthetic, and you want to keep up the reputation that your business is sleek, installing thick thermal curtains can be a great way to maintain a professional, polished appearance while also putting up an insulating barrier. If you’ve tried some or all of these methods and still find your office building to be cold and or have a draft, it’s probably time to look into replacing the windows entirely.
A good place to start if you choose to go the new window route is to research local commercial glass sellers. Good windows to request from your commercial glass seller for insulation in your building are storm windows. Remember that heat loss doesn’t only happen through the windows, though. You may have to look into installing a storm door as well, or you may have to check on the insulation in the building’s walls and ceiling.
Make Sure Your Outdoor Signage Is Secure
Once you’ve done the work to prepare your building inside, and you’ve made sure you have snow plowing services at the ready, take the time to check outdoor signage and confirm that it won’t go anywhere, even in the middle of a bitter wind storm. Signs are how people driving by your building know what your business is called, and is a great and simple way to advertise to people who live nearby.
Because of this, you’ll want to make sure all business signs are highly visible and doubly secured. You can figure out the best method for securing your specific type of outdoor sign with a bit of easy research. For example, if you have a vinyl outdoor banner, remember that you need to allow the banner some give so that it doesn’t resist a heavy wind and end up tearing. Pulling your sign taught might seem like the best thing to do to ensure easy readability, but the tension on the sign actually weakens it. Keep things like this in mind as you are choosing what signs to hang in front of your business and how to hang them.
The Bottom Line
Getting your office building properly ready for the winter months is all about working ahead and making sure every aspect of the building has been accounted for. From clearing snow to testing the heat, these precautions should be taken yearly, preferably in the fall before the winter really hits. Ideally, the building owner will make a habit of preparing for winter each year so that eventually, all of these preparations feel like second nature.
If you take these tips seriously and do thorough work to winterize your building properly, you can even reap some financial benefits. Many of the items on this checklist end up saving energy which ends up saving you and your business money over and over again. Most importantly, winterizing your office building creates a safe business environment for all employees and guests who step through the door, and ensuring the safety and comfort of the people you work with should be a top priority.