Winter precautions to reduce the risk of property damage
Zurich Municipal is recommending that property owners take precautions to minimise the risk of damage occurring to their properties this winter. These involve taking simple and practical steps such as carrying out regular inspections and, where necessary, ensuring heating systems are kept on to avoid freezing. While freezing weather is almost certain to be the cause of some major losses this winter, in most cases only minor damage will occur. However, these minor incidents can interrupt the running of organisations costing the customer valuable time and money. In many cases these incidents can be avoided by implementing simple risk management measures.
- Heating systems, particularly boilers, should be inspected and maintained under a full maintenance contract.
- Frost thermostats should be fitted to ensure that boilers and heating systems automatically come on in cold periods. We would recommend a minimum temperature of 10 oC is maintained in very cold periods.
- Heating systems should be left on to ensure the ambient temperature of the building is high enough to prevent the possibility of water pipes freezing. We would recommend a minimum temperature of 10 oC is maintained in very cold periods.
- Inspections should be made to ensure that pipes and water tanks are adequately lagged. Particular attention should be given to roof spaces and areas where pipework could be exposed to low temperatures. This inspection should take place prior to the start of winter and all exposed pipework should be insulated.
- Roof spaces should be inspected in late autumn to ensure insulation materials are in good condition and correctly installed.
- Ensure that automatic sprinkler systems are fully maintained and that alternate systems are switched to air during winter months (November to May).
- Ensure that heating is provided in the sprinkler valve room.
- Where buildings are permanently unoccupied, we recommend that all water pipes, tanks and heating systems should be drained and water supplies disconnected. Where buildings are temporarily unoccupied, heating systems should be kept on.
- Regular inspections should also be made to ensure the buildings are in good order. A risk assessment should be undertaken to establish the frequency of these inspections.
- Any external water taps should be protected with insulation to protect them from frost.
- Ensure plans of the building which highlight the location of stopcocks are available, so water can be quickly turned off in an emergency.
- Implement maintenance contracts to ensure that gutters are cleared of fallen leaves and debris. This will reduce the risk of blockages and subsequent overflowing of water into the building.