Freezing Temperatures Checklist for Businesses

Often times, a checklist for freezing temperatures is associated with an individual's home, but making sure a business is fully prepared to weather a freeze is just as important. A substantial winter weather incident can collapse roofs, ruin pipes and flood building once the ice begins to thaw - a combination that can easily freeze a company's productivity. While winter weather is most common in the northern region, no state is immune to this natural peril.freezing temperatures Typically incidents associated with a winter freeze result from things as simple as leaving a window or door open to not properly replacing insulation after a repair is made. In southern regions losses are most commonly caused by water pipe damage. Even what could be considered a minor freeze can have devastating effects on on a businesses' productivity. Being well prepared and planning for a freeze before it happens rather than dealing with a freeze after it occurs is crucial. The following checklist can help business owners plan through a freeze instead of waiting an incident out to repair completely avoidable damage.

GENERAL PRECAUTIONS - BEFORE BAD WEATHER HITS:

  • Designate a "weather watcher" and organize an emergency response team (ERT)
  • Train your ERT on the proper protocol of dealing with emergency weather situations
  • Gather supplies to be used in the event of an emergency
    • Extra tarpaulin for windbreaks
    • Steam hoses to thaw frozen water lines
    • Portable heaters to keep hoses from freezing while they are being worked on
    • Antifreeze supplies (for cooling systems)
    • Shovels, snow blowers and wheel barrows
    • Warm clothing (gloves to protect hands)
  • Make sure all snow removal equipment is prepped
  • Make sure all heaters are functioning properly and fueled efficiently
  • Set up priorities for the use of steam to ensure critical equipment remain operational - make sure to provide an adequate steam-tracing system
  • set thermometers to monitor temperature in hard-to-heat areas where freeze vulnerable equipment is kept
  • do not completely shut down all operations
  • If facilities must be left vacant it is helpful to install a supervised alarm system to monitor power supply, low water fuel trips on broilers water temperature on exposed storage tanks, building temperature and process controls
  • for areas that have had a tendency to freeze in the past - drain all equipment responsible to transporting water or is susceptible to condensation or freezing including: airlines and the dry portion of a dry pipe automatic sprinkler. Add antifreeze to any equipment that cannot be drained.

freezing temperaturesBUILDING PRECAUTIONS:

  • Close all unnecessary openings - doors, windows, etc.
  • Replace insulation after making repairs
  • Maintain 40 F with all building heating and insulation systems
  • Periodically check to make sure that all heating equipment can maintain a temperature of at least 40 F in the coldest sections of the building
    • corners at the windward end of the building
    • eaves of the building
    • spaces with no access to direct heat
  • Provide safe emergency heating equipment in areas most susceptible to freezing - set to automatically turn on at 40 F
  • Identify any areas that may have exposed piping
    • spaces above suspended ceiling
    • crawl spaces below floors

EQUIPMENT PRECAUTIONS:

  • Boilers:
    • completely drain and idle equipment
    • Provide drain valves on condensate return lines
    • Remove low points and dead end (if possible)
    • Provide steam traps on piping with drain valves
    • Install low-water fuel cutoff devices with minimum exposed piping
    • Consider heat-tracing lines and insulation for piping that carries water as well as water filled instruments
    • Install alarms for important piping systems
      • For water cooled compressors and pumps, provide adequate heat, locate in a heated enclosure or provide the proper amount of antifreeze solution
    • Use lubricant for low-temperature applications in equipment - especially outdoor or unheated indoor installations
    • For idle air-conditioning systems, remove water, oil coolers and water jackets - drain all condensers of chilling units
    • Ensure that all fuel supplies will be adequate to preform their required function. Verify that all back-up tanks are full as well
    • Check pressure-vessel vents, relief valves and safety valves to assure moving parts are all protected from water accumulation and / or freezing vapor
    • Install windbreaks to protect outdoor equipment, piping and instruments
    • Make sure that all dryer on instrument air systems are functioning properly
  •  Fire Protection Equipment
    • Strategically place thermometers inside buildings to monitor temperature
    • Locate all underground water mains and ensure that depth of their cover is adequate and maintains in construction, excavation or erosion has / could occur
    • For Dry-pipe systems:
      • Maintain dry-pipe valve room temperature above 40 F by insulating the enclosure
      • Check piping pitch for drainage of condensate to low-point drains and install more drains if necessary
      • Make sure all systems are thoroughly drained after annual trip test
      •  Take the air supply for the compressor from within the space protected by the sprinkler system - should moisture build up provide an air dryer or use compressed nitrogen to dry
      • Repair all air leaks in the piping system in order to keep dry valve from tripping should the compressor lose power
      • Follow FM Global's Red Tag Permit System and notify local FM Global office should sprinkle system become impaired. As a last resort - drain sprinkler system
    • For Fire Pumps:
      • Keep room temperature above 40 F
      • For diesel engine drives - keep room temperature at 70 F
      • If pump suction is from an open reservoir, make sure the intake and pipe are below the frost level underground and deep enough in water to prevent ice obstructions.
    • For Gravity and Suction Tanks:
      • Flush circulating heaters & pipes
      • Make sure heaters' circulation pumps are full operational
      • Overhaul steam traps and strainers
      • Check hydrants for tightness and repair any leaks
      • Check and repair any buried valves to repair any leaks

freezing temperatures

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND DURING COLD WEATHER:

  • General - The designated "weather watcher" should check the weather on a daily basis using a reputable source - National Weather Service or an equivalent, and keep the ERT informed of weather conditions.
    • Monitor and record temperature of hard to heat areas - especially those that contain vulnerable equipment. This should be done every few hours especially in extreme cold
    • Temperatures in critical areas should be checked days, nights and weekends. Installing an alarm that is connected to a security or other continually touring service may be helpful
  • Roof -
    • Roof collapse is not something that happens all fo the sudden. Damage to a roof accumulates over a period of time. To prevent this type of loss - monitor the amount of snow collecting on roof-tops during a storm and clear when necessary (before it accumulates past a safe amount)
    • Make sure that an adequate number of roof drains are installed, open and fully functioning - clear of debris and ice
  • Equipment -
    • Check all heat-tracing systems to ensure they are fully operational
    • Drain water-cooled equipment that has not been sufficiently protected
    • Drain condensed moisture from compressed air lines regularly
    • If a facility should lose heat completely:
      • Drain the following equipment:
        • Process Pipingfreezing temperatures
        • Mill-use Lines
        • Heat Exchangers
        • Process Equipment
        • Compressors
        • Water-cooled jackets
        • Condensate Piping
        • Boilers
        • Hydraulically operated Devices
        • Air-conditioning Systems
      • Implement emergency procedures for processes that depend on steam or water
      • Drain piping systems containing liquid other than water and that are vulnerable to freezing
        • Check pressure vessel vents and relief and safety valves for frost or ice
        • Take special care when thawing frozen piping and equipment (taking care to avoid open flames)
  • Fire Protection Equipment -Check both wet and dry-pipe sprinkler systems on a regular basis to ensure ice has not built up on or around them
    • Keep all fire-protection related equipment - hydrants, hoses, pumper connections, sprinkler control valves - free of ice and snow and easily accessible
    • Maintain a temperature of 40 F or above in rooms with dry-pipe sprinkler system valces and fire pumps and a 70 F minimum temperature in rooms with diesel engine-driven fire pumps
    • For gravity and suction tanks, maintain water temperature above 40 F