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polar_vortex

Polar Vortex from January 2014 (care of AccuWeather.com)

As we covered in a previous post, winter is arguably the hardest season on facilities. Winter brings blisteringly-cold temperatures, accumulated ice and snow, and a heap of resulting problems. This year has been especially cold and snowy for us in the Northeast, battling the “Polar Vortex” in January and now facing down Winter Storm Nika, which has caused infrastructure nightmares from the Rockies all the way to Maine. This has inspired us to round up the top 5 winter-related issues that can occur in facilities and talk about ways to mitigate their impact.

1. Snow removal: Snow is a necessary evil, and if the temperature following a powdering hovers around freezing, it’s likely that it will accumulate or worse, turn into ice. For the safety of your people and your equipment, it’s vital to get the snow removed with plowing or salt, or it will pack down and become hazardous to walk or drive on. If you don’t have plowing, shoveling, and salting services ready when a storm hits, you could be liable for anything that happens as a result. (Note: with envVisual, you can easily dispatch those charged with managing snow issues, creating work orders and calling attention to particular areas that need more attention.)

2. Roofing: A failure in your roof can have a disastrous impact on your facility. Preventative maintenance, such as inspecting for leaks on rooftops and shingles (which are more likely when there’s changes in temperature or water freezing and unfreezing) or periodically checking the insulation in your ceiling will save your team a great sums of money, in both repair costs and energy consumption. Another danger posed to roofs are overhanging trees and branches. Prune them before they fall under the weight of ice and cause serious damage.

3. Heating Costs & Breakdowns: Depending on the size of a given facility, the cost of keeping the building warm can take up a great deal of an FM’s operating budget. Prevent these costs from getting out of hand by regulating the thermostat, checkign the insulation around the facility, and most importantly, have a contingency plan in place if the heater breaks down. Broken heaters will bring productivity to a screeching halt, and could potentially cause the facility to simply close, so make sure you can communicate the failure to mechanics easily (for example, using envVisual!) and get them on-site to make repairs in a timely fashion.

4. Equipment Failure and Deterioration: Repeated freezing and unfreezing can deteriorate equipment or cause it to fail altogether. Make sure you winterize (drain the fluids from and cover) your off-season equipment if it isn’t kept in a temperature controlled environment. Give your vehicles time to warm up before using them. Clean salt and other melt chemicals off equipment, as it contributes to oxidation (rust) shortening the life of the equipment.

5. Frozen Pipes: This is a worst-case-scenario for any facility. Frozen pipes can burst, causing massive leaks that can cause permanent damage to ceilings, floors, equipment, any nearly anything else in the vicinity. Frozen pipes can be prevented by ensuring that your heating equipment is functioning smoothly (heating failure is the leading cause of frozen pipe bursts) and insulating pipes connected to or near the outside environment, as they’re the most vulnerable to fluctuating temperatures. If your pipes do end up freezing and bursting, make sure you’re ready to get your plumbers and maintenance subcontractors to your site immediately. envVisual can help you skip several steps in the communication process by creating work orders automatically and directing repairmen to the location of the issue, even if you’re not there to show them the problem yourself.

Winter readiness boils down to effective planning and responsiveness. If you’re ready for anything that the cold can throw at you, you can prevent costly downtime and repairs and keep your facility running smoothly. envVisual is here to help you respond immediately to the crises that winter brings about. Request a demo to learn how we can help you be ready for anything.

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