It’s time for one of our periodic maintenance reminders: winter weather is here, and harsh conditions can wreak havoc on your church building if you don’t stay on top of things. Fortunately, it’s not too late to perform winter maintenance inspections on the roof, furnace/HVAC, and outdoor areas. Catching small issues early will prevent major repairs later, saving you time, money, and stress. Here are some of our tips for winter inspections.
Inspecting the Roof
Routine and regular roof inspections are very important, conditions permitting, of course. You’ll want to check these items:
- Gutters/downspouts: clear any debris and use a hose to test the flow.
- Flashings on roof penetration points: check for separation and cracks.
- HVAC condensation lines: inspect for dampness or leaks.
- Metal panels and curbs: check for rust and punctures.
- Roof fasteners: ensure they are tight and have good compression.
- Nails and screws: check for any that are loose or missing.
You can take care of the easy fixes yourself, such as tightening loose fasteners, but we recommend calling a professional to look at issues with flashings, panels, and condensation lines. These could indicate a larger problem below the roof’s surface that you can’t see.
Inspecting Furnace and HVAC Systems
Even if your church building is nearly empty during the week, you need to keep the heat running above 55 degrees to prevent frozen pipes. Installing and programming a smart thermostat will help ensure the temperature inside the building stays warm enough, and you won’t need to think about it once it’s set.
Of course, there is always a chance of a power outage occurring during a cold snap or a bad storm. Having a backup power system in place will allow you to keep the furnace running and prevent other problems that might occur during an outage.
The furnace should be inspected annually, and you should change out the air filters throughout the year. We recommend bringing in a professional to do these checks:
- Flues: inspect for carbon build-up.
- Heat exchangers: examine for cracks.
- Expansion tanks: inspect for flooding and proper air cushioning.
- Burners: make sure they’re clean.
- Flames: make sure they’re burning cleanly.
- Tubes: brush them out.
- Water pressure gauges: check the calibration.
Inspecting Outdoor Spaces
Harsh weather conditions can also create safety issues with areas like sidewalks and parking lots. It’s a good idea to routinely inspect and maintain outdoor spaces.
- Paved areas (sidewalks/parking lots): repair cracks as soon as possible to prevent further water damage that causes potholes and uneven surfaces.
- Shoveling/plowing: keep the parking areas and walkways clear of snow as much as possible.
- De-icer: salt is inexpensive, but it’s also corrosive to the concrete sidewalks, some exterior wall materials, and some indoor surfaces—people will track it indoors. It’s worth investing in alternative de-icing solutions that are effective without causing damage.
- Handrails: ensure they are sturdy and there is no loosening.
- Doormats: if you haven’t done so already, install non-skid mats on the outside and inside of each exterior door. This limits the amount of de-icer, snow, and slush that gets on the floor as people come in. The mats should be large enough to allow people to walk at least three steps.
For more tips on church maintenance, building, and design, join us for our i3 webinar series. You’ll get the latest ideas, insights, and innovations for your church.