Seasonal Tips: Winter

By: Rebecca Reilly

During winter, buildings can sustain large amounts of damage. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, this winter is expected to be colder than average with above average snowfall. Below are some tips to protect the building envelope during the winter:

Roof

The entire roof should be inspected prior to the first snowfall and documented with photos. The locations of roof drains, scuppers and other equipment should be noted so they can be easily accessed when they are covered and concealed with snow, and, that they donat pose a tripping hazard to people working on the roof during the winter. All equipment on the roof needs to be secured, and, after every wind storm, the roof should be reinspected to make sure nothing was damaged or dislodged.

Seasonal Tips: WinterBuilding managers should ensure that roof drains are properly cleaned of leaves prior to the start of winter. Melted snow or rain that can not flow down clogged drains, will refreeze at night and accumulate on the roof. Accumulated snow or ice can wreak havoc on a roof system, causing seams and minor holes in the membrane to open. The load of the snow on the roof can also cause structural failure.

Exterior Walls

Exterior walls should be inspected for any damaged brick masonry units, coping units and cornices. Damaged areas should be documented to track if the damage worsens over the winter. To prevent further water infiltration and damage, any known leak locations should be covered with tarps, until they can be properly addressed.

Seasonal Tips: WinterWindow mounted air conditioner units should be removed for the winter. Accumulated snow and/or ice on the unit can put unwanted stress on the window frame. Window mounted air conditioner units also allow heat loss, which increases energy costs.

Icicles often form on building appurtenances. Icicles should be removed from the building whenever possible. Building managers should continuously monitor areas where icicles may form and fall to avoid any pedestrian hazards. If itas not possible to remove the icicles, building management should deter the public from any area where icicles could possibly fall.

If restoration projects are in progress, certain precautions should be taken with building materials. Mortar, sealants and other building materials should not be installed successfully at temperatures below 40 degrees. If winter work is required, thermal blankets may protect the newly installed materials from cold temperatures.

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