Severe winter weather causes serious damage to commercial facilities, up to and including roof failure. A commercial building winter storm plan helps facilities managers prepare for heavy snow and low temperatures, while a commercial building winter storm checklist helps maintenance staff ensure all necessary precautions have been taken.

Creating a Commercial Building Winter Storm Plan

Your commercial building winter storm plan should prepare for the worst possible contingency based on your local weather conditions. The plan should include responses to roof failure, including the shut-off locations for:

  • Water

  • Electrical mains

  • Emergency generators

  • Fire protection systems.

The emergency plan should consider the snow load of your facility’s roofs. Determining this may require a licensed structural engineer to evaluate the building and identify any areas of concern. Remember that equipment installed on the roof since the building’s construction will affect a roof’s snow load capacity.

Commercial Building Winter Storm Checklist

A commercial building winter storm checklist helps reduce the impact of severe weather on your facility, protecting both your property and building occupants.

Your winter storm checklist will need to include potentially-dangerous snow removal from rooftops. If you choose to use your own staff, they should be properly trained in the safe removal of snow, and be issued equipment that will not damage the roof. Your checklist should include:

  • Checking after-hours thermometer settings to determine if temperatures need adjusting.

  • Clearing walkways of snow and ice using sand, chemical pellets, or salt.

  • Insulating pipes in vulnerable areas to prevent freezing and bursting.

  • Keeping HVAC heat pumps and condensing units clear of snow and ice.

  • Keeping roof vents and exhaust pipes clear of snow and ice.

  • Late fall inspection of the interior and exterior of the building for cracks, corrosion, or other damage.

  • Periodic inspection of roof drains and gutters to ensure they are clear and will not accumulate ice.

  • Regular inspection and servicing of HVAC and water systems, both of which work harder during severe winter weather.

  • Testing emergency generators and fuel supplies.

Monitoring snowfall is an important part of your commercial building winter storm plan. Snow should be removed before accumulations make roof work dangerous. Flat roofs are vulnerable to repeated thawing and freezing, a process that causes heavy layers of ice to collect.

Be aware that certain snow removal equipment such as metal shovels and ice chippers have the potential to damage the roof’s surface, causing leaks and damage to building contents, insulation, and electrical systems.

Having a winter storm checklist in place is especially important in states that are known to get a lot of snowfall - including New York, Alaska, and Utah. Browse our upcoming training seminars today!