Preparing Your Commercial Building for Winter

Winter weather in Canada is notorious for extreme cold, snow and ice, which can come with significant challenges for commercial property owners. This can include burst pipes, leaky roofs and treacherous parking lots and sidewalks. As a business owner, you can be held responsible if a customer, employee or third-party is injured on site or if your property is damaged.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prepare and manage your commercial building for winter. It’s important to note that each property is different, and they will change based on the location, size and age of the building. You can prepare for winter by using these tips:

    1. Inspecting your roof, gutters and drains
      Ensuring that your gutters and drains are cleared of any debris (such as bird nests or leaves) helps to minimize water and ice buildup that can damage your building. Having your building’s roof professionally inspected during the fall gives you the opportunity to repair any damages that may have happened the previous winter or from summer storms. This can reduce your risk of leaks and make sure the roof is structurally sound.
    2. Checking your plumbing
      A burst pipe can be an extremely expensive fix – especially if you must shut down your business to fix it. To help prevent pipes from freezing, keep the building’s thermostat set to a minimum of 13 C – including evenings and weekends. You may be able to avoid water damage and burst pipes by testing the freeze stats and valves before the weather gets cold. Install pipe insulation on water pipes that run through uninsulated parts of your building and seal up any cracks that cold air can flow through from outside.
    3. Examine your HVAC system
      Since the HVAC system affects the air quality throughout the building, it’s important to thoroughly inspect it before winter sets in. You should check and change air filters, repair any broken parts, inspect the vents for leaks or holes and inspect the ventilation system to make sure exhaust gases are being properly vented outside of the building.
    4. Planning for snow and ice removal
      Making sure that the sidewalks and parking lots surrounding your building are clear of snow and ice is key to keeping the people visiting or working at your property safe. You should have a reliable plan for snow removal – whether it is part of your employees’ roles or something that you outsource to a snow removal company. Don’t forget to regularly check that emergency exits are unobstructed by snow and ice.
    5. Have an emergency plan in place
      If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s the importance of a contingency plan for both your employees and building. Planning for a variety of risks that can include gas leaks, fires, floods and blizzards helps ensure business continuity and can reduce long-term costs. Keeping your employees up to date on emergency protocols provides peace of mind that your team will know what to do in the event of an emergency.
    6. Make sure your insurance is up to date
      A comprehensive insurance policy can cover the risks associated with winter and so much more. It’s important to work with your broker to ensure that your policy is updated regularly to reflect any changes that may have taken place with your property or operations. Our team can also provide a risk control survey to identify potential hazards to your business, to reduce the exposure or outright eliminate the threat to the operations.

Taking steps to get your commercial property ready for the winter can help you avoid having to make a costly insurance claim and help keep your employees and customers safe. Contact us today to speak to one of our experienced commercial brokers to discuss your potential risks and how to manage them.



Start a Conversation With One of Our Expert Brokers Today to Determine the Right Coverage for You.

get started