Have you winterized your property yet?
Eagle County’s extreme winter weather and freeze-thaw cycles can lead to disastrous building and home emergencies if you’re not prepared
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Winter in Eagle County is a joyous time for winter sports enthusiasts, but it can be a disastrous time for buildings that haven’t been properly winterized.
Whether you’re a business owner, commercial property owner, property manager or homeowner, every building that exists in this alpine climate needs to be checked out before winter weather is consistently upon us. These inspections also need to occur throughout the winter.
We asked the team at BluSky Restoration Contractors in Gypsum how to handle winterization for homes and commercial buildings. Here are some of the key takeaways.
Visually inspect your property
Whether you personally walk your property or hire a property manager to do it, it’s important to inspect properties before winter sets in. You want to look for weak spots on the building envelope, weak points in building systems, and cold areas in the building with active pipes that run through. Look at the vented crawl space to ensure it’s not reaching temperatures that could cause pipes to freeze.
Commercial properties usually take more time to inspect than most residential properties, but the process is very similar.
“We can walk a property with a homeowner or property manager and we’ll see things from a different perspective,” said Patrick Hibler, vice president of the Gypsum office at BluSky Restoration Contractors. “We can see problems in the architecture or design of buildings that may create problems. We can identify potential hazards and offer up solutions just based on our experience over the years in what we see regularly each winter.”
Be prepared for freeze-thaw cycles
In Eagle County, winter weather can be all over the map. We’ll have a single-digit temperature blizzard one day, followed by sunshine and temperatures in the 50s or 60s. These freeze-thaw cycles can wreak havoc on buildings that aren’t prepared.
“You have to stay on top of the weather and understand what it’s going to do to your property,” Hibler said.
Do you know where your snowmelt drains? Is it properly draining away from the property? Make sure you know the answers to these questions and how to mitigate concerns before it’s too late.
Watch for standing ice
A lot of winter water intrusion occurs because of standing ice. It’s critical to keep an eye on any area where ice builds up and keep that ice to a minimum.
“Look for big overhangs where snow gets loaded that could fall and hurt a person,” said Fletcher Groff, project director at BluSky Restoration Contractors. “It’s also a prudent thing to do to minimize the amount of snow that’s on your roof throughout the winter.”
If you have a lot of skylights, which can be fairly common on commercial buildings, you might want a plan in place to shovel around those skylights to minimize water intrusion and failure.
Have a plan
For homeowners, a plan might be as simple as keeping a few emergency phone numbers on hand. For commercial buildings, property managers and businesses, have an internal plan that you can share with your staff so if there’s a leak or an emergency, they know the basic steps of how to react, Groff said.
“Include the locations of the main water shut-offs or isolation valves inside units since the first step is to shut off that valve and minimize damage,” he said. “You want to have a plan that alleviates any time delays in the process that would cause further damage to the building.”
When these emergency situations do come up, the property managers, engineers, homeowners and any other relevant stakeholder should always have a phone number handy for the resource to call during that emergency.
“If it’s a plumber, a restoration company like BluSky — make sure they’re ready to make that phone call when something happens,” Groff said.
Hibler pointed out that these crises never seem to happen at 11 a.m.
“It seems like it’s always 3 a.m., so having a plan ahead of time really helps lessen the damage and speeds up the process of getting back into your building,” he said.
Consider historical trends
If you know there’s a pipe that has historically frozen, make sure that pipe is ready with pipe insulation, heat tape or perhaps a fix to the building itself.
“If it’s something you don’t look at every day, make sure you’re checking those points consistently,” Groff said.
The supply lines to the dishwasher and refrigerator are common points of origin for floods. Hibler said BluSky has seen a bad supply line flood an entire house countless times.