After a long winter in the Northeast, it can begin to feel like springtime will never arrive. But eventually, the temperatures start to rise and plants, animals, and people come out of hiding. This glorious time in early spring presents business owners with the perfect opportunity to assess their commercial property for winter damage and prepare for safety and comfort in the months ahead. Here are 6 tips for a successful “spring cleaning”:
1. Assess damage caused by the winter weather
Cold temperatures, snow, ice, and even salt can cause quite a bit of seasonal damage to any structures out in the elements. The unavoidable freeze/thaw cycle can make surfaces more fragile over time, as freezing water expands into cracks and then melts to create areas of moisture. Similarly, ice can “dam” and cause a backup of water that has nowhere to go but leak into a building’s roof, through ceilings and walls. When these events are repeated again and again, it’s only natural for areas around your property to experience damage in the form of potholes, cracks, rotting, and more.
Head outside with a checklist and a camera to document any damage you find. Closely inspect your building and landscaping, taking note of any:
- Cracks in the foundation, walkways, parking lots, and patios
- Broken or loose pavement
- Sink holes
- Missing roof shingles
- Separations or erosion in siding and masonry
- Rotting or loose boards
- Chipped paint
- Broken, cracked, or leaking windows
A word of caution: cold nights persist. While spring breaks free from winter, the freeze/thaw cycle is still at play. Snowbanks and ice, still intact thanks to low overnight temps, tend to melt during the warm days and turn into dangerous, icy hazards once again. Be sure to continue monitoring vulnerable areas on your property for as long as necessary, looking out for frozen sidewalks, parking lots, and other spots that collect precipitation and customer footfall.
2. Check irrigation and drainage systems
While you’re inspecting your property, look for leaks and blockages—or other forms of damage—in your irrigation and drainage systems. These include gutters, nozzles, sprinkler heads, and valves. Look around for any standing water and loose or packed-in debris. Clear, clean, and repair areas of concern, as it’s important that these are in full operation once spring rains arrive with the potential to create even bigger problems.
3. Pick up debris
Ice, snow, winds, and rain runoffs—as well as shoveling and plowing—can make quite a mess of your landscaping, and you won’t see it until after the thaw. Remove trash, twigs, and leaves from the ground to let air circulate around grass, trim any broken limbs or shrubs, and prune back plants so they’re ready for spring growth. Once your property is clear, it’s not a bad idea to power wash the areas where people walk. This tidies up the walkways for curb appeal while uncovering areas of the freeze/thaw cycle damage you may have missed before.
4. Do a maintenance check
There are a number of things you can do in and around your property to ensure it’s ready to face the challenges of summer. For one, have your air conditioning units checked to ensure proper working condition and reduce the amounts of allergens and dust. You can also replace air filters, flush your water heaters, check the status of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and examine fire systems’—including sprinklers and alarms—electrical components.
5. Update your list of contractors
Not every spring thaw project is DIY. During your spring clean-up, you’re sure to need professional guidance and expertise at some point. Maintain an up-to-date list of specialists you can contact to help with your property inspections and repairs. This list includes landscapers, builders, HVAC specialists, plumbers, paving specialists, and roofing specialists as well as contractors who can assist with foundation repairs, wall and ceiling patching, painting and drywall, insulation and millwork, and electrical and mechanical repairs.
6. Review your commercial property insurance
Is your insurance up to date? Work with your insurance agent to review your policies and ensure you have the coverage you need for the seasons ahead.
If you have further questions on property grounds safety, please contact your Acadia Loss Control Representative. If you are not a current Acadia Insurance customer, please contact your local independent insurance agent for information or to obtain a quote.
Acadia Insurance is pleased to share this material with its customers. Please note, however, that nothing in this document should be construed as legal advice or the provision of professional consulting services. This material is for general informational purposes only, and while reasonable care has been utilized in compiling this information, no warranty or representation is made as to accuracy or completeness.