If you own a commercial building that will be left vacant this winter, it is important that you take a few maintenance steps before the snow flies. This way, you can prevent costly damage and more extensive repairs in the future. Here are four simple tasks to complete.
Have the HVAC system inspected.
You'll need to leave the heat on low in your commercial space in order to ensure that pipes don't freeze. Since you likely won't be around every day to notice if the heating fails, it's best to have your HVAC system inspected by a professional before winter hits hard -- especially if it's an older system. This way, any problems that could cause the heating system to suddenly fail will be detected and fixed before they cause the heat to fail. Make sure your inspector not only looks over the main furnace or boiler, but also the ductwork, since leaks and blockages can cause your energy bills to skyrocket.
Check pipe insulation.
Unless you have the water supply turned off to the building (which is only legal in some municipalities), you want to make sure your pipes are well insulated so they don't freeze and burst while the building is empty. Focus on the areas where the pipes come into the building. If there is no insulation around these sections of pipe, purchase some foam insulation tubes and tape them around the pipe. Also, make sure there is caulk around the area where the pipe enters the building. If not, purchase some simply silicon caulk and apply it according to the instructions on the package.
Put antifreeze in the toilets.
Purchase the type in the plumbing supply section, and add it to the toilets according to the instructions on the package. Generally, you will need one bottle per toilet. This extra step gives you some more protection against a frozen plumbing system, especially if the heating system were to fail.
Clean your gutters.
If your roofing system has gutters, this is the time to check them out and clean out any blockages. Otherwise, ice may accumulate inside, leading to ice dams and leaks. You can clean most gutter systems easily by pulling out the gunk with a gloved hand and then rinsing away any remnants with a hose. If your gutter system is more complicated or your building very large, you may wish to hire a professional.
Once you complete the items on this list, it should be safe to leave your vacant commercial space alone for the winter. Do check in weekly (or have someone else do this for you) just in case the HVAC or plumbing malfunctions and needs assistance. The sooner you catch a plumbing or heat issue, the less damage it will cause.
For more suggestions, talk to a professional like McFoy Refrigeration, Inc.