Among the biggest weather events of 2015 were the recurring monster snowstorms that walloped the Northeast and wreaked havoc on domestic travel from late January to early March. While these “snowpocalypse” storms received the most attention, winter cold and storms pounded many parts of the U.S. during the past year. The lessons learned from these heavy storms can help businesses elsewhere prepare for and respond to snow, ice, and freezing temperatures in 2016 and beyond. Rather than waiting for the snow to fall, businesses should begin preparing before the arrival of freezing temperatures, snow, and ice that may damage property and interfere with daily operations. With this goal in mind, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) oﬀers the following guidance on severe winter weather and business protection.
Roofs & Gutters
- Inspect and clear the roof and gutters of debris. Vegetation can accumulate, which can trap snow and ice, adding weight to the gutters.
- Check hangers, spikes, fasteners, seams, guards, and downspouts for securement. Heavy snow or ice can cause gutters to weaken and sag, leading them to break away from the building and allow for water intrusion.
- Take action to prevent ice dams (ridges of ice that form at the edge of a roof, especially gutters, or around drains and prevent melting snow from draining oﬀ the roof). The water that backs up behind an ice dam can leak into the building and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas.
Pipes & Sprinkler
Frozen/burst pipes are the leading cause of property damage from winter weather
- Insulate pipes that are in attics, crawl spaces, and outside walls.
- Confirm that the thermostat is functioning and the boiler/HVAC system has been serviced for the season.
- Monitor and maintain indoor temperature at 65 degrees or higher.
- Provide a reliable backup power source, such as a standby generator, to ensure continuous power to the building.
- Insulate recessed light fixtures in the ceiling to reduce heat entering the attic.
- Insulate and properly seal attic penetrations such as partition walls, vents, plumbing stacks, electric and mechanical chases, access doors, and all windows.
- Seal all wall cracks and penetrations including domestic and fire protection lines, electrical conduits, and other utility service lines.
- Sprinkler systems should be consistently monitored by a central station to provide early detection of a pipe failure.
- Install insulation and/or heat trace tape connected to a reliable power source on parts of wet sprinkler system piping (small branch lines and outdoor main lines) if the building interior may be exposed to freezing temperatures.
- UL-approved gas or electric unit heaters can be installed.