Fight the freeze: Prevent winter water damage
Freezing point opens up a wide variety of opportunities: ice skating, hockey, skiing…and water damage. No one wants to deal with a burst pipe or flooded basement. Cold winter conditions can make it particularly difficult to effect repairs once damage has been sustained. Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent winter water damage. Key ways include regular maintenance, facility winterization and emerging technologies that alert maintenance personnel to imminent water damage before it occurs.
Where should facilities prevent winter water damage?
The following are the three major causes of water damage in the winter:
Water is among the few substances on earth that expand when it frozen. As many who use freezing as a method of food preservation know, enough space must be left in a jar to prevent it from being shattered as the liquids within freeze. All water containers and systems are vulnerable to being damaged if their contents freeze, from a five-gallon bucket to a plumbing system. Pipes are particularly susceptible to freezing at night, when temperatures are at their coldest and the water flow from regular usage is at its lowest. Unfortunately, this is also usually a time when facilities are not occupied or regularly monitored.
Roof Damage and Gutter Damage
Snow and ice accumulation on roofs and in gutters can also be a troublesome byproduct of winter. In addition to standard concerns regarding the weight of snow and ice, fluctuating temperatures can cause these buildups to thaw and re-freeze repeatedly over the course of the season. Any pre-existing flaws in the roof’s integrity would allow melted water to seep in, potentially ruining building materials and forcing the existing flaw to expand when the invasive water refreezes. Uncleared gutters may also become blocked with ice, causing ice dams to form at the susceptible point where the roof meets the eave.
Outdoor Water Fixtures
Hoses, spigots and other outdoor water fixtures are susceptible to freezing as well if they are not properly winterized. Hoses should be drained, coiled up and stored out of the elements until needed again in the spring. Spigots should be checked for any damage and then fitted with insulated covers before temperatures get too cold.
Ways to Prevent Winter Water Damage
Maintenance and Winterization
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Completing the following tasks before winter weather sets in is a great way to safeguard against winter water damage:
- Inspect roof; make repairs as necessary
- Clean gutters; make repairs as necessary
- Clear outdoor irrigation systems of water
- Unfasten, coil and store hoses and irrigation fixtures
- Insulate all outdoor water spigots
- To safeguard pipes from freezing:
- Ensure the thermostat of every building, especially those that will be vacant during winter, never falls below a minimum of 60 degrees Fahrenheit
- Ensure all pipes are exposed to as much warm, circulating air as possible, and consider either insulating them or installing a heat tracing tape system to prevent freezing
Invest in Winter Water Damage Prevention Systems
Billions of dollars of water damage could be prevented annually if there was a way to detect a leak or an imminent system failure before it got out of hand. Fortunately, the technology for water detection and temperature monitoring sensor systems is more sophisticated than it has ever been. These sensors can continuously monitor facilities when regular maintenance staff is not on site, which tends to be when facilities are most vulnerable to sustaining damage. When the sensors detect the presence of water or abnormal temperature fluctuations, they send cellular alerts to designated personnel.
]This means that no matter the time or day, your maintenance staff is one notification away from being able to respond to a leak or a failing refrigeration system before it devolves into a costly crisis.
Arrowhead’s Tribal risk manager observed firsthand the sensors at work when a part in a facility’s mechanical room failed, causing a leak. The building was unoccupied at the time the part failed. The sensors, detecting the leak, sent an alert to a building supervisor that they were registering water on the floor of the mechanical room. Once alerted, maintenance personnel were able to respond within 10 minutes, address the part failure and stop the leak. An unchecked leak potentially would have flooded other areas of the building. Due to the sensors, damage to the tune of $100,000 was averted in mere minutes.
Don’t leave your facilities unprotected –by addressing common maintenance and winterization practices. Consider installing systems to prevent winter water damage today get the upper hand on water leaks and system failures. Learn more about winter facility preparation or water sensors, by contacting your broker or tribal risk manager Mark Sherwood, [email protected].