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Building Upgrades to Protect Against Severe Winter Weather

We can’t stop the harsh winter weather, but we can prepare and strengthen our structures to defend against it.

Strengthen Your Business

Consider upgrading the building as your budget allows.

Winter Ready Business Preparedness Guide

These steps can help you to prepare your business before the winter season. 

1. Upgrade internal systems

The sooner you know there’s an issue, the quicker it can be fixed. Leak detection systems and pressure relief valves installed along plumbing pipes can help you avoid pipe bursts (water damage) should freezing pipes occur.

  • Install a monitoring system that provides notifications if the building’s temperature dips below a pre-determined minimum.
  • Install an automatic excess flow valve on the main incoming domestic water line to monitor and provide early detection of a broken pipe or valve. Excess flow valves automatically stop the flow of water when preset flow settings are exceeded.
  • Use wireless sensors to monitor leaks near water sources such as water tanks and commercial appliances.
  • Install UL-approved gas or electric heaters in unheated sprinkler control valve and fire pump rooms.
  • Implement a secure data backup solution to prevent data loss.
  • Purchase and use power surge protectors to protect valuable computer equipment.
1- Water pressure relief valve

2) Invest in a generator

Generators play a vital role in emergency preparedness, ensuring uninterrupted business operations in the event of a power outage. This can be especially crucial during freezing temperatures, leaving the building susceptible to internal temperature fluctuations. Backup electrical power should keep critical electrical and mechanical systems that maintain vital business operations functioning.

  • Determine whether a portable or permanent generator is the right fit for your business to provide cost-effective benefits while minimizing associated risks.
Generator for emergency electric power. With internal combustion engine.

3) Replace windows and/or doors

In the winter, windows can accumulate ice due to escaping warm air, resulting in potential damage when the ice melts and water infiltrates window frames or walls. Additionally, older single-pane windows offer inadequate thermal insulation, while aging doors may warp or develop gaps, providing pathways for water intrusion.

  • If windows or doors show signs of aging or have gaps, cracks, or other areas of concern, replace them.
    • Choose windows with double or triple pane glass that includes a high thermal resistance (R-value) and thermal break. The R-value tells you how well a system can resist the transfer of heat; the higher the value, the better that system performs. A thermal break is insulation built within the frame of the window to reduce thermal transfer.
    • Install exterior personnel doors and roll-up doors that provide a high R-value.
a specialist in installing plastic windows puts a double-glazed window in a window frame, close-up

4) Improve your roof

Snow guards on a steep-slope roof will prevent snow from sliding off and causing excessive snow load on another portion of the roof or physical injuries. Heating cables and a moisture barrier can help prevent ice dams and water intrusion damage.

  • Retrofitting a steep-slope roof
    • Install snow guards or snow cleats on a steep-slope roof.
    • Add insulation to attic space, particularly around HVAC ducts and other openings, to keep warm air from melting snow on the roof that may re-freeze.
  • Replacing your roof
    • Install high-quality self-regulating heating cables on eaves, gutters, and downspouts, or around roof drains.
      • Select UL Listed, FM Approved, or Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Certified heating cables. These cables won’t remove ice dams but create channels that will allow water to drain off.
      • Install them in a zig-zag pattern near gutters on low-sloped roofs.
      • Connect to drains and drainage system to create a pathway for meltwater to follow.
    • For steep-slope roofs:
      • Add a moisture barrier to the roof deck along the eaves of the roof. This moisture barrier should extend from the roof edge at least 2 ft toward the interior of the building, beyond the exterior wall enclosing conditioned space.
      • Apply a waterproof membrane (peel and stick), also known as an ice and water barrier, on the roof deck edge.
Construction site - waterproofing and insulation pvc terrace

Seasonal Business Prep

These steps can help you to prepare your business before the winter season, no matter where you’re located.

Building Upgrades

We can’t stop the harsh winter weather, but we can prepare and strengthen our structures to defend against it.  

Before Winter Event

When defensible space is thoughtfully created and well-maintained, it will increase the likelihood your building will survive a wildfire.

After Winter Event

Follow these steps to recover quickly and reopen your business.