wintryIn many parts of the country, the weather outside is frightful—or soon will be! Even though your energy is going into Advent before Christmas, it’s important to do more than just deck the halls. Church “halls” don’t just need decor, they need preventative maintenance before winter sets in. So, here’s a list (and we’ve checked it twice): not of gifts, but of advice, to make sure your church is ready for winter.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

We suggest you begin at the top, with your church building roof. It really can’t be stressed enough—after all, snow can get very heavy, and when it melts, it flows anywhere that isn’t carefully sealed. Your roof is your shield against winter damage in the rest of the church. In addition to our roof maintenance checklist, there are other parts of your church building that need winterizing attention. Thus, our church maintenance checklist begins with the following:

  • Check outer walls for cracks or spaces. Insulate and caulk them to prevent heat loss. Remember that you’re not just keeping heat in; you’re keeping chilly rodents outdoors where they belong.
  • Inspect windows and doors to see if they need new weather stripping or caulking to fill small holes.
  • Drain and store hoses, winterize faucets and shut down your irrigation system for winter.
  • Winterize your cooling system, especially if you need to drain your cooling tower. You don’t want any of that water to freeze and burst a line.
  • Change the air filters in your HVAC system.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Winter weather doesn’t just bring trouble for your roof. Sidewalks, parking lots and indoor areas can benefit from preventative maintenance as well.

  • Repair cracks in sidewalks and parking lots. This isn’t just about hidden trip hazards during snowfall. If water gets underneath, it can wear away the ground supporting those sidewalks and paved areas, creating uneven surfaces, cracks and potholes.
  • Check all handrails to make sure they are sturdy and well-fastened.
  • Purchase appropriate de-icing materials that will do the job without harming your landscaping—or your indoor flooring, since everyone who walks in will bring some of that de-icer with them on their shoes. While salt may be inexpensive, it’s corrosive to some flooring materials. Good stewardship would suggest costlier, but safer, alternatives.
  • Install non-skid mats both inside and outside all exterior doors to limit the snow, slush and chemicals coming in on everyone’s shoes. Get mats that are big enough to allow someone to take three steps on each one.

Keep the Fire from Slowly Dying

Finally, it’s important to keep your church building warm, even throughout the week when there aren’t many people there. Program your thermostat—or install a programmable one that will allow you to make sure the temperature will never fall low enough for pipes to freeze (we recommend not letting the temperature drop below 55 degrees).

Consider installing a backup power system in case of outages. Not only will it keep your furnace running; it will help prevent other power-related issues from occurring. While we’re on the topic, your furnace needs a thorough annual once-over. You might want to bring in a professional to handle the inspection, especially if you have a volunteer church maintenance crew.

Key furnace inspection tips:

  • Is there carbon build-up in the flues?
  • Are flames burning cleanly?
  • Are there any cracks in the heat exchangers?
  • Are water pressure gauges correctly calibrated?
  • Do expansion tanks have proper air cushioning? Are they flooded?
  • Make sure burners are clean
  • Brush out any tubes

Church Maintenance Questions? Ask Mark!

We hope you find this winter maintenance checklist helpful. If you have additional questions, you can call Mark Hall, our maintenance coordinator, at 614-875-1689. And if you want more good tips on church maintenance, building and design, be sure to sign up for our 2017 free i3 webinar series—registration is open! Until then, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!