Winter is definitely a time when ignoring your church building can lead to serious problems. Insurance companies report that as many as three times more insurance claims are filed during the winter months than other times of the year. So during these cold and blustery days, it’s important that you’ve winterized your church building to prevent damage and accidents from occurring.
Begin at the Top
We have written specifically on the importance of roof maintenance in the past, and we suggest that you review that article for more details. In short, winter snow, ice and wind cause millions of dollars of damage to the roofs of buildings across the country each year. Snow is heavy, and can surpass the roof load capacity. Melting snow and ice invade cracks, re-freeze overnight, and expand those cracks, causing leaks and damage. Backed-up drains prevent needed runoff of that melting snow and ice. All of this can cause problems for your roof, which protects the rest of your church building.
Maintain the Heating System
In the same way that you should regularly inspect and maintain your roof, you need to schedule regular maintenance for your heating system as well. Replace the filters, test the controls, and make sure that heat is coming out of every heat register in the church building. But don’t just rely on volunteers; schedule a licensed contractor to check belts, lubricate the furnace motor and check the flue for any blockages or buildup.
Don’t Forget the Pipes
We’re not talking organ pipes here, but water pipes. Churches tend to keep building temperatures low in winter to save money, but good building stewardship requires that the church building internal temperature stays above 55 degrees to prevent freezing water pipes. Pay attention especially to areas of the church that might not be directly served by your heating system. You should also inspect and insulate any pipes that run through attic areas. Many times a communication, technology or other volunteer or service may have moved insulation over a pipe and not replaced it. Finally, especially if your church building doesn’t host weekday activities such as Bible studies or a church school, make sure someone checks the church daily for issues during extreme cold snaps.
Walk This Way
Finally, don’t ignore the walkways inside and outside of your church building. Slip and fall accidents increase when the sidewalks are slippery and the indoor floors get wet. Repair uneven sidewalks, steps and parking lots before snow covers those bumps, creating tripping hazards. Make sure all handrails are sturdy and well-fastened. Use only non-skid rugs and floor mats, purchase—and use—“wet floor” signs, and clean up wet floors as soon as possible. Create a snow removal policy, document it (for insurance claims) and organize a snow removal crew to make sure the church building and surrounding areas are safe before every church event. Do not use a salt to melt the snow on your sidewalks. Salt will cause concrete surfaces to pop off and break up over time.
Think Maintenance All Year Long
Of course, good stewardship requires that you think about church building maintenance in every season, not just winter. The McKnight Group can answer questions you have about church building maintenance. Give us a call and we can help you with your maintenance questions and offer solutions to your maintenance issues. And be sure to sign up for our free i3 webinar series, to learn about church building principles and a variety of other topics throughout the year.