Preparing for Winter: A Comprehensive Guide to Protecting Your Building and Home from the Cold

The United States has witnessed impactful winter weather events in recent years, and the records show that 2021 and 2022 marked the highest years for winter storm-insured losses, tallying over $21.5 billion, as reported by the Insurance Information Institute.

Winter is approaching, but there is still time to ensure your building and home are ready and well-prepared for the season ahead.

Building Maintenance

  • Make certain attic insulation is present and adequate.
  • Check for broken windows, doors, or louvers, and ensure windows and doors close tightly.
  • Replace damaged or missing caulking or weather stripping.
  • Check the trees surrounding your building. Be sure to remove dead tree limbs or prune limbs that overhang utility lines before the winter season.
  • Consider utilizing and frequently checking temperature sensors in areas of the building that are vulnerable and may fall below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Winterize your pipes by verifying internal pipes are adequately insulated. Ensure you are turning off and draining outdoor hoses and irrigation systems.

Heating System

  • Service the heating system before winter begins, including inspections, cleaning of the ducts and replacing filters.
  • Ensure fuel supplies are available.
  • Consider providing protective covers for HVAC equipment.
  • Be sure to check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Check backup power sources to make sure they work and have needed fuel, and consider backup/temporary heaters.

Have an Emergency Action Plan in Place

  • Ensure the Emergency Action Plan covers winter procedures and emergencies including monitoring vacant buildings, and loss of heat and/or electricity.
  • Appoint members of the Emergency team to monitor weather and initiate winter procedures.
  • Ensure your emergency planning covers excessive snow loads, including removal of snow accumulations from the roof before the snow reaches 50 percent of the “safe” maximum depth is recommended.

Ensure Roof Resilience

  • Thoroughly inspect your roof for any signs of damage or weakness, and promptly repair or reinforce as necessary.
    • Look for evidence of past water ponding and eliminate the causes to prevent future problems.
    • Inspect all roof drains and downspouts. Be sure to clean any accumulated debris to avoid clogging the roof’s drainage system.

Secure Furniture and Equipment

  • Secure outdoor furniture. Outdoor furniture, tools, and other outside objects could become airborne during high winds and damage property.
  • Identify any equipment that is vulnerable to freezing. Drain and secure idle equipment, and apply heat and/or antifreeze.

Reach out to an Advisor

By implementing comprehensive procedures, safety initiatives, and cold-weather guidelines, you can significantly reduce the risks of winter-weather losses. Reach out to an RCM&D advisor today to help ensure your building and home are ready for the upcoming season.