Seasonal Tips: Winter
By: Rebecca Reilly
As winter approaches, it is important to ensure that buildings are protected from damage. The Farmer’s Almanac forecasts winter storms in January and February. Please see the tips below to protect your building during the winter months.
Building superintendents should perform an inspection of all building elevations. Any damaged locations should be monitored to see if the damage worsens throughout the winter. Any known, active leak locations should be temporarily protected with tarps until they can be properly addressed in the Spring.
Window mounted air conditioners put stress on window frames, and snow accumulation on the units will add to this stress. These air conditioners should be removed for the winter. Typically, air conditioners are not airtight; therefore, removing them can also reduce heating costs.
Building management should monitor the formation of icicles on building appurtenances and remove them whenever possible. If icicles cannot be removed, building management should direct pedestrian traffic away from areas beneath them.
All roofs should be inspected before the winter. The locations of HVAC equipment, drains and scuppers should be documented and accessibility to them should be maintained. Any rooftop equipment should be secured against high winds, and building personnel should re-inspect the roofs after any storms to ensure that equipment remains secure.
Prior to the first winter storm, all roof drains should be cleared of leaves and debris. This will allow melted snow and ice to drain off the roof. Because any open seams and tears can enlarge as ice freezes and expands, these locations should be patch repaired. Whenever possible, avoid shoveling snow off of roofs. Shovels can open seams and tear the roof membrane. This damage is difficult to detect because it is covered by snow and ice.
Additional precautions should be taken if building envelope restoration projects are in progress. Many building materials, such as coating, mortar and sealants, are temperature sensitive, and contractors must adhere to the temperature restrictions provided by the productas manufacturer. Brick replacement and mortar repointing should not be performed at temperatures below 40 degrees. If itas absolutely necessary to replace brick or repoint mortar in colder temperatures, thermal blankets must be used. Thermal blankets have been proven to increase temperatures by 8 degrees on average. The temperature underneath the thermal blankets should be monitored overnight to ensure that it does not dip below 40 degrees.