Preventing property damage this winter

Facilities management company MSL-LTD looks at planned and reactive maintenance programmes for businesses over the winter months.


‘Ice dams’ can be formed on the edges of a roof. These are created by the continual melting and refreezing of snow. This can prevent water from draining, meaning it can get under the tiles and eventually leak into the building, damaging ceilings, walls, insulation etc. To help prevent this, keep drains open and free of ice.

Whilst we may be able to protect ourselves from the freezing, winter temperatures by wrapping up, our properties are not so lucky. Winter is often the peak season for buildings to experience damage. The best way to ensure that your business is protected from any winter-related issues is to carry out preventative measures, limiting the possibility of any future problems.


During the cold months, pipework is vulnerable: the water inside may freeze and burst pipes, causing huge damage and costs to your business. To prevent this happening, you should use insulation sleeves to cover your external pipes to keep the cold out as much as possible. Also, be sure to repair dripping taps and faulty valve balls immediately, as they can cause waste pipes to freeze.

Try and keep the temperature in your building above 4°C degrees. Whilst it may seem sensible to turn the heating off whilst your business is closed to save energy and money, you should leave the heating on low to ensure that your pipes stay warm. It is also essential that your system is regularly


checked and serviced to reduce the chance of a breakdown over winter.

Regularly inspect your pipes too, especially looking for areas where freezing may be more likely to occur. Turn the taps on and look for a steady water stream. If there is no water or it is running slow, then your pipes may have frozen. Get in touch with a plumber immediately to prevent any further issues.


Small cracks can develop in your external brickwork over time. If rain water is allowed to sit in these cracks, when the temperature begins to decrease it may freeze. This then causes the cracks to expand, pushing the bricks further apart. We recommend checking for cracks in autumn so that if you do notice any, you can fix them before winter.

It is also important to make sure to regularly check air bricks and clear away any build-up of leaves or other debris. Blocked air bricks can stop the air flow in your property, which can trap moisture. This can cause your timber structures to become damp and start to warp and rot.

Another way to make sure your pipes don’t freeze is to install insulation in your roof over your pipes not under them, and ensure you don’t put it under the cold tank. Without heat radiating from below, your tank and pipes could freeze.

Water protection

Be sure to flood-proof your property with waterproof sealants, on both the outer and inner walls of the foundation to prevent any water damage. It is important to assess areas that will not drain, such as basements or underground parking, as they may require fixed or portable pumps during an emergency. If the correct protection hasn’t been put in place, a property can be subject to flooding.

If your premises hasn't yet been protected, it is very important to store all electrical equipment in areas prone to flooding at least one inch off the floor, to prevent electricals being affected by flood water. Make sure your business has a 24-hour emergency contact list for plumbers, electricians and the local water utility company.

Ensure that professionals safely undertake all the necessary checks and repairs, leaving you safe in the knowledge that your property is being looked after all year round.

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