Winter is coming: is your business ready for the colder months?

The clocks went back at the end of October, meaning we’re now stepping into the colder months, darker mornings, and the need to fully prepare ourselves for winter. This single hour of change doesn’t completely alter how our days run, it does however symbol it’s time to truly get stuck into making sure our businesses are fully braced for the winter season. In the UK the weather is never too extreme, but there are some vital safety checks to keep in mind for the colder months, especially around your pipes, thermostats and planning for any business downtime, especially in this unpredictable climate.

Here are some of the key areas you should be sure to check, as winter is upon us:

1. Thermostat resets

The clocks have gone back one hour, so it’s time to check that all your thermostats and clocks match the right time. Without checking you may find your heating system or furnace kick into gear an hour too late. Unlike your car clock, which many of us do leave an hour behind until the clocks change again, you should make sure your heating system is aligned with the hours you need it to be, for cost savings as well as comfort.

2. Your water system layout

Do you know exactly how the water system at your business works? You’ll be surprised how many experienced and long-term businesspeople have never taken the time to look at their water system. It may not seem important, but if you don’t know where the main stop tap is then how can you switch off the water in the event of a disaster?

Burst pipes are more common in the colder months, so if you get to know your water system, you can quickly switch it off, should the unthinkable happen and you do have a leak or burst pipe. Now is also the perfect time to check your pipe lagging. Anywhere pipework is exposed is at risk of freezing when the temperature drops and if they freeze, they’re likely to burst. The potential losses to your business and the repair time and costs can be avoided with this simple maintenance check.

3. Keep the heating on

Even if you close at weekends or over Christmas holidays, be sure to keep your heating ticking over. As this is another effective way of minimising the risk of frozen pipes and reduces the risk of them bursting. Keeping your heating on low helps avoid this risk without becoming an excessive cost to the bottom line.

4. Check for leaks

Wastewater is already factored into your water bills, but additional leakage and waste will add even further costs. Have every element of your business checked for leaks. This should include any inside and outside taps, pipes, urinals, toilets, hosepipes, pressure washing equipment and more. Even the smallest leak can add up to a significant cost over a long period and can impact on your water pressure. Leaks or cracks in pipework can also be an easy place for frost to get in and the risk of bursting increases.

Don’t forget to check your gutters and drains too. Leaves and wet weather can block your gutters and drains and stop the water from flowing. If water has nowhere else to go it can build up and leak into roofs and walls or it may freeze and damage your property.

5. Don’t forget your insurance

Now is the perfect time to check over your insurance cover. Make sure you have coverage which includes damage caused by burst pipes. Most business owners are responsible for all pipework maintenance within the boundaries of their premises. This can include internal plumbing and underground pipework which transports the water to and from your business from the mains. Your insurance policies should cover all of this but be sure to check.

6. Put contingency plans in place

Do you have a Plan B if your premises are impacted by burst pipes? Do you have a recovery and disaster management plan to make sure you can continue trading after this kind of incident? You should have a plan you can implement easily and brief your employees, if action is required. Additionally, your team should be trained in spotting signs of damage or issues with the pipework, so you can be informed immediately, even if you’re not on the premises.

7. Keep emergency info to hand

If the worst does happen and you do need to deal with a burst pipe or any business leakages, having the details of the emergency contacts to hand is essential. Especially in the case of holiday periods or during non-peak periods where less staff may be available. Make sure you have all the contacts you may need safely stored in your phone, so you can get hold of them very quickly in the event of an emergency. Ensure all the paperwork / contracts are up to date and easily accessible, especially if you’re unable to access your premises. You may have a preferred plumbing company or you may have a facilities management company associated with your business. Whoever’s number you need, make sure it is easily accessible.

The more prepared your business is, the less chance you’ll have of suffering significant losses, damage or business downtime when the colder weather sets in. Carrying out these simple tasks will give you peace of mind throughout winter and make sure you’re ready even if the worst does happen.