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One of the most valuable and costly items anyone can own is property, such as a building. If a building is not maintained or protected from harsh winters and weather, damage can occur that could financially disrupt anyone’s savings and depreciate their investment.

Discussed below are just a few areas that need every building owner’s attention when winter arrives with its cold, wet, soggy seasonal appearance. The easiest way to ensure your building escapes winters damaging threats is to have it professionally inspected. Additional precautions follow below.

Attics and Roofs

Roofs and attics need attention during extreme temperature changes. Whether the building is in a region that gets heavy snows, or just cold weather and rain, these conditions can cause problems.

  • Ensure there is proper ventilation to avoid what is called “Ice Dams.”
  • Proper drainage is required when snow and ice begin to melt. This eliminates accumulation of liquid puddles that cause wood rot and damage.
  • Unsecured shingles and roofing must be repaired. These can allow water to seep under the material and seep inside the attic or crawl space, walls, floors, etc.
  • Gutters that have not been cleaned and have trapped leaves and debris will clog the drainage pipes and cause water damage to the outside property walls. These should be cleared so that excess water is allowed to drain away from the property to avoid rot and seepage damage.


Pipes in, under, and around a building are subject to damage in harsh winter weather, especially from freezing. Pipes freeze easily, which can lead to cracks. Water expands when it freezes, adding pressure to the pipes causing the cracks, which can ultimately lead to breakages. However, there are a few ways to protect them during cold fronts.

  • Pipes need to be covered or wrapped with a protective material to avoid breakages.
  • The pipes under the building are not always accessible to the average property owner, and professional building maintenance staff should be called to secure the non-accessible pipes and to ensure they are properly wrapped and not exposed to the harsh temperature changes.
  • Leaving a very slow trickle of water flowing from a faucet will keep the movement of flow through the pipes and not allow water become dormant and freeze. This may increase the water bill, but can save a much more by preventing breakages.
  • If the building will be vacant during cold weather, ensure the water valve is opened and all water is allowed to drain from the pipes to avoid freezing and cracking. Draining pipes are a standard procedure for summer properties that are exposed to cold winters.

Storm Drains and Flooring

Storm drains often go without inspection and outside drains can become clogged with the falling leaves. If left unchecked, this lapse in maintenance can quickly cause damage to a building.

  • To prevent damage, these areas must be kept clear of debris to allow melting snow to drain away from the property and not puddle and seep under the building.
  • Ensure basement areas have proper drainage if they are lower than ground level.
  • Purchase a sub pump if the building is below ground level to ensure any excess water that may seep into the basement or sub-basement can be removed from the property and diverted away from the building.
  • Don’t forget to put a mat at every property entrance to catch dampness and water that is carried in on winter shoes. This liquid ice can easily damage wood flooring and seep under carpeting.


One of the easiest and most protective things you can do for your building is to arrange to have a winter inspection of your property to ensure you are prepared for any upcoming seasonal events. Trust your instincts and call a professional as they will be able to advise you on possible areas of concern, and recommend preventive maintenance your building needs that could avoid serious, costly repairs. It is also advisable to have an inspection performed after the winter weather to repair any unseen damage caused by extreme winter weather.

If you would like more information about protecting your building during inclement weather, contact T.F. Harper & Associates, LP, located in Austin, TX.

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