Protect your house of worship with inspections and preventative maintenance.
Winter is an exciting time for many worship centers as it’s a season for celebrations. During this time, attendance might see a bump as members who don’t regularly attend services come to observe major holidays, volunteer for programs that help the needy or come to watch annual festivities. With an increase in foot traffic, it’s best to take a second look at your property’s maintenance and make sure it’s ready for winter weather.
Inside your building
Your heating system
Your HVAC system is one of the most important factors in keeping your center safe and comfortable for members this season. Hiring a professional technician to service your HVAC can help identify potential hazards that could arise throughout the upcoming winter. Typically, servicing your HVAC can help avoid these hazards by cleaning ductwork and changing filters. If your building uses gas for heat or in its kitchen, you’ll want the lines inspected as well.
If your heating system is an older model, it might be time to upgrade. Replacing equipment before it breaks can often save money in the long run, as you can avoid costly property damage and emergency repairs. Upgrading now may also allow you to keep energy costs low, with new high-efficiency models and smart technology. For example, a mobile-enabled thermostat can be helpful if your facility isn’t used daily because you can keep an eye on your building’s temperature from your phone.
Your emergency systems
The change in weather is a great reminder to test elements of your emergency systems. Check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and change their batteries. If your building has a sprinkler system, now is a great time to perform routine maintenance on this too.
Outside your building
Think of your roof as your center’s first defense against winter weather. The roof is often the part of your building most exposed to snow, sleet and ice. Because of this direct exposure, inspecting your roof for damage before and after each winter season is crucial to preventing leaks. Additionally, it’s smart to have a snow removal plan in place specifically for your roof, especially if it has a low slope or none at all.
Your gutters and downspouts are an important area to prep as well. Be sure to keep these clear of debris so that melting snow has a place to go when the temperatures finally rise. Routinely throughout the season, clear the gutters of icicles, which can be dangerous to passersby.
Your building’s exterior
Perhaps the biggest concerns when it comes to winter are freezing pipes. A frozen pipe can burst causing water damage and costly repairs. Check to make sure that any pipes and exterior faucets have ample insulation to prevent freezing this winter.
Pipes aren’t the only thing that can leak. Inspect your center’s doors, windows and joints and verify that all the caulking and weather stripping is in good shape.
Clear the way for the expected increase in foot traffic – literally. Set a plan in place, or hire a service for snow removal that includes both your parking lot and your walkways. If opting to DIY it this winter, be sure you have shovels, roof rakes and salt or ice melt stocked.
Shut off and drain any irrigation systems, if possible. Winterize any gas-powered landscaping equipment such as mowers, leaf blowers or trimmers. But before you put them away for the season, now is the time to check and prune any trees on the property. A heavy snowfall could cause weak branches to fall, potentially damaging the building or vehicles or injuring visitors.
In the excitement of the season, it’s important to slow down and evaluate your facility’s safety. Even with warmer winters forecasted this year, snow and freezing temperatures are still a reality in parts of the country. Taking the time to perform maintenance on your worship center now can help you and your members to enjoy the wonder of the winter season safely.
Some worship centers are exploring new ways to grow and survive, including merging congregations. If you are considering a merger, keep these tips in mind.