ATE: What are some ways I can prepare my church building for winter weather?


Winter is right around the corner, and we want you to be prepared. Every season has its own need for special maintenance, and that’s especially true when the temperatures start to plummet. Cold weather can wreak havoc on your property, which makes it all the more important to take preventative measures to protect your building.


Fortunately, you can take a preventative approach to prepare your building for winter and avoid cold-weather catastrophes. While each property’s needs will be different, consider the following tips when preparing your property this season:


HVAC

Your HVAC system works hard all year long, but it pulls extra weight in the winter. Before you crank up the heat to combat colder temps, ensure your buildings’ heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is running efficiently and effectively. To do so, replace filters, inspect and repair broken parts, identify and respond to cracked duct work, drain line clogs, and make sure your HVAC system is the proper size for your unit. Another recommendation is to store or cover air-conditioning units that will go unused during the fall and winter seasons.


Plumbing

Unfortunately, burst pipes are a common culprit of winter property damage. During frigid temperatures, exposed plumbing can freeze and rupture. Something to keep in mind is that fissured pipes can cause water to flood your building and possibly damage ceilings, walls, wiring, and other structural areas. Additionally, this excessive moisture can promote mold growth. Avoid this wet mess by insulating and sealing cracks and openings around exposed pipes. Another tip is to set internal thermostats to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit to help ensure that your pipes aren’t in danger of bursting.


Roof

Your roof is a critically important part of your property. Inspect your roof for holes or damage that could cause leaks during snowmelt to prevent leaks and other expensive issues. Another thing to check for are loose shingles. You will want to repair damage to existing seals and flashing to ensure the roof is structurally sound and capable of withstanding this year's winter conditions.


You’ll also need to inspect your gutters and drains for potential damage. Verify they’re secure to your building and free from debris. When snow and ice cannot drain off your roof, it will freeze and cause roofing problems and subsequent interior damage. So, be sure to evaluate your gutters and downspouts for any water backup to be assured you’re in the clear.


Windows

You’ll want to inspect windows both inside and outside to ensure they are properly sealed. Doing so can reduce energy bills while simultaneously preventing excess moisture and mold risks. You may even want to consider replacing windows that are showing signs of aging to avoid potential interior and exterior building damage.


Older, single-pane windows offer low thermal resistance. If budget allows, install double or triple-pane windows with a high thermal resistance (R-value) and thermal break. This will ensure to prepare your home for any weather this winter.


Outdoors

We recommend winterizing your landscaping, which includes trimming any trees and shrubs. This will help to reduce any unwanted exterior damage. Ensure that vegetation and grass are properly graded to avoid water and ice sitting against your property’s foundation. This can lead to interior water damage.


Iced or snow-laden branches can cause damage to your windows, building, or roofing. To prevent this from happening, trim tree branches that are close to your home's perimeter. You may also want to trim any branches near power lines to avoid a potential power outage and avoid any business or personal interruptions.


Have a disaster plan in place

We recommend making a plan for various disasters, including, but not limited to, cold weather. These may include fire, flooding, and gas leaks. Read our article on Carbon Monoxide poison prevention for extra tips on gas leaks.


If you are a business owner, you’ll want to be sure to keep all of your new and current employees up-to-date on the protocols and ensure everyone has access to the various escape plans. This plan should also include contacts for snow/ice removal companies and interior precautions, such as non-slip mats to prevent falls. Even in your home, these practices can come in handy.


All in all, you can prevent cold-weather disasters with some simple preparation. Many states experience tough winters; fortunately, these tips can help you prepare and protect yourself. Keep these 6 ways in mind to avoid any costly disasters and repairs this winter season.


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This content has been prepared by United Methodist Insurance Company (UMI) for informational purposes only. No article or document may accurately contemplate all possible scenarios or church resources. As such, this information is meant to foster discussion by the individual church and its members to develop a plan tailored to its own circumstances. UMI is providing this information with no warranties or guarantees of any kind and it should not be viewed as legal, financial, or other professional advice. All liability is expressly disclaimed. Any claim examples described herein are general in nature, may or may not be based on actual claims, and are for informational purposes only. Any coverage available for a claim is determined from the facts and circumstances of the claim as well as the terms and conditions of any applicable policy, including any exclusions or deductibles. In the event of a conflict with the content herein, the terms and conditions of any issued policy will control. Individual coverage may vary and may not be available in all states.

The commercial insurance coverages for United Methodist Insurance are sold and serviced directly or indirectly by Sovereign Insurance Agency (CA Lic. No. 0B01380) ("Sovereign") and underwritten by various available insurance markets. Sovereign pays United Methodist Insurance a royalty for the use of its intellectual property.