Could you manage without one of your buildings for the winter months? Across Oregon we have seen multiple building collapses due to snow loads, and with warming temperatures we are likely to see damage from the thawing of frozen pipes.
PACE is dedicated to finding ways to help our members with information to help protect buildings during cold weather events. The information provided below can be used as a best practice to help your district prepare buildings when cold weather events are going to occur, especially when there is a time that buildings will be unoccupied.
Properly insulating pipes, as well as leaving the heat on while away will help prevent pipes from freezing. If wrapping pipes, make sure to do it carefully, with the ends butted tightly and joints wrapped with tape. Ensuring that your heating system is up and running properly is the most important factor to consider before winter weather occurs. Regularly inspecting your facilities, especially over the weekends and holidays when buildings may be left unoccupied for extended periods of time, helps ensure losses are caught before substantial damage occurs. When inspecting your buildings make sure to get in all the nooks and crannies to verify that water pipes are insulated and that doors or openings leading to the outside are properly secured. Also during these inspections make sure to note the locations of shutoff valves. This will help if a pipe was to break and you need to shut off the water supply in an emergency.
Besides making sure that water pipes are insulated and keeping the heat on, using checklists to document the inspections and show priority areas needing assistance can be vital to keeping buildings viable during cold weather. PACE has available two checklists that can be used by your district, ESD or community college before and during cold weather events. These checklists will help by giving a simple-to-use form that gives some specific things to look at while inspecting facilities:
Other options to prevent frozen pipes include: professionally installed heated cables and wraps that run along the pipes to keep them warm, professionally installed UL-listed heat tape or similar materials on exposed pipes, having staff located at these areas to use portable heat sources if the power goes out, making sure that back-up generators are working and installing flow alarms that will notify staff or close valves when flow exceeds normal capacities (note: these should only be used for domestic water lines). Many of these products are available at building supply retailers; remember to follow manufacturer recommendations when installing them.
Please contact the PACE claims or risk management department with any questions relating to getting your buildings ready for the winter weather.
Property/Casualty Claims: 1-800-305-1736
Risk Management: 1-800-285-5461
Remember to take extra time and use caution when working and traveling during winter weather events.