Summer is just beginning to turn to fall, but many people around the country are already starting to think about colder weather. Maintenance managers aren’t any different than the rest of us when it comes to considering the needs of their HVAC/R equipment and facilities. They don’t want to be caught unprepared when the weather is at its worst. Creating and following a winter checklist can greatly simplify maintenance of an industrial or commercial facility. Here’s a checklist that can help you prepare your facilities for the cold weather ahead.
Steps that take advantage of the changing weather for savings.
- Regular system checks, throughout the year, ensure major (and costly) overhauls or repairs are rarely needed. They also ensure that HVAC/R equipment is operating at it’s most efficient (and cost-effective) capacity regardless of the season.
- Thermostats and/or zone controls can result in greatly reduced energy consumption (and increased savings). Production machinery in a shop will produce enough heat on its own to have much different requirements for warming than conference rooms or shared office spaces. Having the proper controls to take advantage of this will not only result in savings but a much more comfortable, and productive, workforce.
- Drain and winterize non-essential chillers and cooling towers. They don’t need to be a focus of maintenance until preparing to bring back online for warmer weather. This allows manpower to be redirected to more seasonally essential tasks. It also decreases weather-related wear and tear on HVAC/R system equipment.
Steps that make sure things work best when the weather is at its worst.
- Preventative maintenance on outdoor assets and equipment is essential BEFORE cold weather hits. A plow or snowblower isn’t much good to anyone if it doesn’t start the first time it’s cold enough to snow.
- Heat pumps and boilers need to be operating at optimum levels when they’re most needed. HVAC/R and water systems work harder during severe weather. It’s also important they work efficiently to reduce system strain and energy consumption as much as possible.
- Test emergency generators/systems and fuel supplies regularly. A blizzard knocking out heat or a storm knocking out fire prevention can be catastrophic for a company. This makes backup systems one of the most imperative checks a facility maintenance manager can perform.
Prepare your facility for the most extreme weather.
- Preparing high traffic and communal use areas like entryways, parking lots, and loading docks for cold (and often ICY) weather is a necessity. They can often be slip/trip/fall hazards in even mild conditions. Simple steps like the use of deicer, gravel, safety mats, and proper signage can go a long way to reducing the frequency of worst-case scenarios occurring.
- A burst pipe due to freezing is one of the worst things that can happen to a facility. Such an occurrence can result in both water damage (flooding) to the physical facility and equipment damage to HVAC/R and water systems. Properly insulate pipes and valves to keep water and building temperature at proper levels.
- Snow and ice can be a great hazard for the roof of any facility. Freezing and melting can cause ice dams in gutters that result in leaks and other water damage. Meanwhile, snow load can result in structural damage or even cause roofs to collapse when improperly anticipated. Regularly clearing drainage or ventilation systems is paramount for winter weather prep due to these hazards.
These aren’t the only steps required to prepare a facility for winter, but they are some of the most important ones. If you’re swamped and need help checking some items off your building’s list, contact our Client Solutions team to see if our HVAC/R or Facility Maintenance techs can help you out. If you’re experienced preparing industrial and commercial properties for seasonal changes, send your resume to our Technical Solutions team to learn more about our projects. Either way, all of us at PMG hope all of you stay safe, productive, and warm this winter.
About the Author
Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate