Preparing for Winter: Facility Maintenance
Temperatures are on a downward trend, and even though we’re located in Texas, it is still essential to be prepared for whatever this winter has in store for us, including potential ice storms.
Establish a building plan
By assessing the status of your systems, you will be able to determine the vulnerable components and identify critical areas that would be most impacted by inclement weather. Additionally, identifying and sourcing materials to keep on hand and designating a plan outlining a response team will help avoid a last-minute crisis.
Perform regular maintenance
Mitigate potential issues before they arrive by performing maintenance on systems that need work.
Conduct a pre-freeze audit on building systems
Before entering the winter months, conduct a pre-freeze audit to assess the strength of your systems.
Before temperatures drop, it is vital to locate isolation valves and know each valve’s function. Furthermore, you want to ensure that all brass fittings on the valves are protected. During the case of sustained cold conditions, you want to keep water running or dripping on all fixtures and monitor if the drain lines freeze. If necessary, you can turn off the water source and drain.
DOMESTIC WATER SYSTEMS
Similarly to plumbing systems, you want to identify and locate all isolation valves before the winter. Additional preparation involves:
- Covering wall hose bibs
- Verifying adequate insulation is installed
- If heat trace is present, verify ambient thermostat and electrical are working
- Exposed backflow devices susceptible to freezing conditions
In the winter months, you should maintain awareness of lines and follow the same protocol as the plumbing systems. If possible, consider an alternate heat source.
Identifying exposed drain lines and insulate traps (i.e., parking garage areas) and shutting off any units producing condensation (i.e., ice machines) will help prepare your facility for the colder weather. If temperatures drop too low, follow the same protocol as plumbing and domestic water systems, and look for p-trap stoppages.
In preparation, learn how to turn off your gas line and gas systems and assess your meter to look for moisture. If necessary, you can temporarily wrap gas meters and regulators to withstand cold conditions but do not cover the vent of the regulator.
Before the winter months, if your cooling system is not in use, possibly isolate and drain it. Test heat trace on the chiller evaporator barrel and assess your building automation systems. If the Building Automation System control sequence does not provide a flow sequence during low temperatures, drain pumps, and associated piping, ensure valves are opened, and close dampers are.
These heaters, usually installed in your mechanical room or large warehouses, will often go unnoticed when they fail. It is crucial to maintain and test before winter to prevent them from failing to protect the space.
Certified boiler technicians, like those employed by Brandt, can check and test all boiler safeties, especially the low water cut-offs, gas valves, linkage, and operating limits. Additional preparation includes:
- Leak test the gas train to minimize the risk of your building being red tagged if a gas company responds
- Exercise all water/steam valves, insulate when necessary
- If no carbon monoxide detector is installed for an indoor boiler, a certified boiler technician must perform all the above
- If the boiler is outdoors, heat trace water, steam lines, and rugged insulation are recommended in subfreezing temperatures.
Inspecting electrical components where interruptions can be frequent (IR scanning, torque, clean) can prevent failures to breakers, contactors, etc., on critical components. If power is lost, ensure that a second power source works and that the fuel system remains fluid.
For packaged rooftop units and heat pumps, ensure outside air dampers are in good condition, operational and close when de-energized. If you have air-cooled heat pumps, ensure ice build-up has been removed (such as if power shut off during an ice storm) to prevent burning up the condenser fan motor.
Knowing your city’s guidelines will help determine how to handle these systems in the cold. Most cities will not allow you to shut the fire suppression system off to a building and drain it. During underground repairs and with permission from the fire marshall, Brandt must have a 24-hour fire watch until the system is back up and going.
OUR CUSTOMIZED SERVICES
Brandt provides a comprehensive range of Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning (HVAC), Electrical, and Plumbing services. This includes maintenance, retrofits, and repairs by one of our reliable and professional service technicians. When a Brandt expert arrives, facility managers and operations staff can breathe easy knowing our employees are factory-trained on all major manufacturers’ equipment and facility systems. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with all your building needs.
CUSTOMIZED SERVICE CONTRACTS & MAINTENANCE AGREEMENTS
Our service agreements can be customized to meet your needs. Whether you’d like your service to run monthly, quarterly, or semiannually, we’ll be your go-to expert. Customers with contracted service agreements benefit from:
- 24-hour emergency service
- Guaranteed response time
- Access to service history and work orders
- Digital invoicing schedules
- A personal account representative
COUNT ON BRANDT FOR YOUR SYSTEM MAINTENANCE
At Brandt, we pride ourselves on high-quality service and long-standing business relationships. Whether you need assistance with system maintenance or need a complex design and installation, count on Brandt. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with all your building needs.