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Encompass® Agency Insights

5 Tips to Winterize Your Small Business

Winterizing your business .

Snow, ice, and sleet can wreak havoc on small businesses during the winter. Taking steps now to prepare your business can help reduce the risk of downtime, lost productivity, and damaged inventory. Winterizing your business office may also help to lower your energy bills and - most importantly - help keep you and your employees safe.

Keep the following in mind:

Be aware of possible ice dams

If your business is in a smaller office building, like a converted house, you could be at risk for an ice dam. Clogged gutters or downspouts can trap snow and ice, adding to the weight load on gutters and increasing the risk for an ice dam. Ice dams form when warm air in the attic causes the roof to warm and snow to melt. This water then runs down the edge of the roof, freezing at the edge and creating a “dam” of ice. As more water freezes, the ice dam can force water underneath the shingles and into the house, staining ceilings, peeling paint and rotting siding. If your business is based in a region that receives heavy snowfall, consider installing heating cables or hiring a roofing company to steam off the ice dam.

Schedule preventive maintenance for your office heating system.

If you lease office space in a larger building, the building’s maintenance team may already perform standard seasonal check-ups. Check with your building’s operations manager to confirm the boiler and heating system is running efficiently. If you need to schedule this check-up yourself, ask the maintenance team to check for problems with airlocks, leakage, and thermostat control. Additional steps include:

  • Sealing air leaks around items such as doors or windows
  • Checking duct systems for any gaps or holes
  • Automating your thermostat. Consider the benefits of reducing energy waste by installing an automated thermostat that you can control remotely through your smartphone.

Be prepared for power loss.

Should an ice or snowstorm knock out power to your business, would your team know what to do? While power outages may be unexpected, you can still take steps in advance to minimize their potential impact on your business.

  • Avoid data loss by backing up documents offsite or in the cloud.
  • Consider whether your company needs a backup power source to run critical operational components until the main grid is back up.
  • Keep flashlights and batteries on hand to assist staff in safely exiting the building should the power outage happen during business hours.

Protect pipes.

When temperatures plunge, the risk for frozen pipes increases. If you are out of the office over the weekend and a pipe bursts, by the time you come into work Monday morning, significant water damage may have occurred. Reduce the risk of frozen pipes by letting faucets drip slowly, which keeps water flowing through pipes that are vulnerable to freezing. The Red Cross also suggests keeping cabinet doors open to allow warmer air to circulate

Reduce the risk of employee or customer injury.

Don’t be caught unprepared by an early snowfall. Even if you contract with a snow removal company, it may still be prudent to keep basic necessities onsite such as rock salt, pavement deicers, sand, and snow shovels. If you or a team member will be shoveling the snow, remember not to overexert yourself. Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing and take regular breaks. Finally, consider stockpiling extra supplies like water and snack food in case employees are temporarily stranded at your business location due to unexpected winter weather.

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