Prepping Your Business’ Pipes for Winter

Columbus Chamber
The Columbus Chamber provides connections, resources and solutions that help small businesses and Fortune 500 enterprises grow Central Ohio's economy.

December. It is hard to believe coming off of the mild weather and beautiful fall that we enjoyed. The question is “when can we expect the bad stuff?” Even though it’s unimaginable right now, it’s time to start preparing for the snow and ice that are just around the corner. Preparing for winter means stocking up on boots and sweaters, taking the winter coats out of storage, and making sure your car, lawn and home are ready for the season.

When it comes to your home, your heating system needs to be in high operation mode, and your pipes should be properly insulated, with any outside spigots (hose bibbs) winterized (weatherized). If you also happen to be a business owner, these same important elements of winter preparation also hold true for your operation. From proper insulation to preventive inspections, here are some tips on how to successfully align the inner workings of your business for an easy skate to winter.

Schedule a preventive inspection

Before winter hits, schedule an appointment with a local plumbing company to make sure your business’ mechanical systems (pipes) are in good condition and are able to survive the winter. Most winter damage to pipes is preventable, so by scheduling an appointment early, you could be discovering a potential problem before it occurs and ultimately be saving yourself a lot of time and money in the long run. After all, repairing a pipe would cost less than fixing the damage caused by a burst pipe.

Before the cold weather hits, double check and ensure that your business is properly insulated. If there are problems with the insulation, the cold air that enters your business could eventually freeze the pipes, which could cause damage. This is particularly relevant if your business has a sprinkler system in a warehouse, attic or basement. These areas are typically under-insulated, which means the pipes located here have a greater risk of freezing.

Finally, if your business has warehouse space, cupboards, closets or other enclosed areas that house or contain water lines make sure to occasionally open these areas and expose these pipes to the central heating in your business. This is particularly important when the temps dip below freezing. Pipes need a little heat, too.

Those businesses with parking lots, should be sure to clean catch basins and the associated storm lines of all leaves and trash prior to the winter weather.  Excessive buildup of these materials will restrict the flow of melting snow and or rain from one of those nasty winter thunderstorms.

Traveling during winter months

In general, you should consider these home/business practices if you plan on travelling or closing your shop for the winter:

  1. Never let set your thermostat below 55 degrees during cold weather. Because of the combined cold, both inside and out, your pipes will have increased chance of freezing due to temperatures.
  2. Adjust the dial on your water heater to the “vacation” or “warm” setting
  3. Consider turning off the main water line to your home.
  4. Ask a friend or neighbor to periodically check in on your home when you are gone