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Prepare your Facility for the Winter Season

Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Thermometer

It happens every year - the temperatures seem to drop faster and much sooner than they did the year before. Perhaps you made it through the first freeze without so much as a drip from your wet sprinkler system.  You are either lucky or well prepared.  Here are a few tips to ensure you’re the latter and to not going go from “lucky” to “scrambling.”

  • Schedule preventive walk-throughs in your building in late December, or prior to a predicted cold snap.  Visit remote areas, particularly rooms accessible only from outside service doors, including fire sprinkler riser rooms, medical gas storage rooms, janitor's closets, and other rooms people are not regularly working in.  Check for heat sources such as electric baseboard heaters and verify they are operating.
  • Advise your tenants and customers who smoke - especially in strip malls or facilities with designated smoking areas on the premises outside of the building - not to keep doors propped open and to pull them tightly shut behind them. 
  • This one takes a little more work, but the time it takes will be much less costly than a cracked sprinkler pipe.  Remove dropped ceiling tiles and check plenums above ceilings around the perimeter of your building, in smaller rooms on single-story buildings, or the highest floor in a multi-story building. Make sure temperatures are greater than 45 degrees above the ceiling and that proper insulation exists between the plenum and outside walls or the roof, especially if the other walls go all the way to the deck.  While it is unattractive, removing a ceiling tile or two to allow tempered air into the plenum on the coldest day of the year could save you tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Have an agreement in place with your HVAC or fire protection contractor to check glycol in sprinkler systems and boiler or chiller loops, and to flush out any chilled water coils that are not being used during the winter.

If you have vacant buildings or unfinished spaces you are responsible for, visit them and perform these same measures.  Oftentimes broken glass, failed outside air dampers, or other problems that an occupant is not there to complain about may be waiting to ruin your day.

Ahern responds to hundreds of emergency service calls per year related to frozen plumbing and sprinkler pipes - either restoring a heat source, replacing broken sprinkler heads, or re-plumbing frozen water pipes.  Most of these calls could have been prevented by following the suggestions above.

Get ahead of the game and schedule a preventative walk through with Ahern. Contact us to set up your appointment today!

Other articles that might interest you:

Don't Freeze Up! Winterize Your Sprinkler System

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