The Snow is Coming! Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late!

October 05, 2021
servis winter

Whether you like it or not, winter is coming.

The most important factor to consider when staring down the barrel of at least 3 months of sub-zero temperatures is preparedness. Here are a few helpful tips that will keep you (and your property) on track and worry free as we move into the holiday season.


1. Know your roof’s maximum snow load

When it comes to the weight of snow, the type of snow is as important as the depth of the snow. Fresh powder snow is typically lighter than wet packed snow, and ice is heavier than snow.

There are several contributing factors to the acting load on your roof that include snow drifts from adjacent buildings or mechanical equipment, heavy rain on snow, and melting snow that refreezes.

If you don’t know your roof’s snow load, hire a structural engineer to verify the snow load threshold of the roofing system. This information will be important after an event when determining if there is too much snow on the roof.


2. Prevent plumbing from freezing

  • Inspect and seal or repair all cracks, holes, leaks, windows, doors, and other openings on exterior walls with caulk or insulation to prevent cold air from penetrating the wall cavity.
  • Insulate and seal around attic penetrations such as partition walls, vents, plumbing stacks, and electric and mechanical chases.
  • Make sure your pipes in hard-to-reach places like attics, crawl spaces, and along outside walls are insulated. Wrap pipes and faucets in unheated or minimally heated areas of the building.
  • Make sure your existing freeze-protection devices and alarms are in good working order.
  • Test freeze stats (low temperature sensing device) and valves before the weather gets cold.
  • Pipes leading to the exterior should be shut off and drained at the start of winter. If these exterior faucets do not have a shut-off valve inside the building, have one installed by a plumber.
  • Hire a licensed fire protection specialist to conduct routine maintenance on your sprinkler system. Discuss the systems exposure to winter weather and potential mitigation options.

 3. Winterize your landscaping and irrigation

  • Keep all bushes and trees trimmed and away from the building. Trees with branches near or hanging over your building can damage the roof cover, siding, and windows.
  • Pay particular attention to trees within falling distance of overhead power lines leading into the property. Avoiding a power outage can save a day or two of business interruption.
  • Shut off and drain irrigation systems and outdoor hoses.

 4. Maintain your HVAC system

  • Schedule preventative maintenance and make sure the system is operating properly and efficiently.  Be sure to change any air filters and check that exhaust gases are being ventilated properly.
  • Select a heating system repair service before an unexpected outage or maintenance issue arises mid-season. Loss of heat for even a few hours could significantly disrupt your business during a cold snap.
  • Have someone ready to come quickly – including after hours – and negotiate an emergency rate in advance.

5. Service your generator.

The time to maintain a generator is well before a major snowstorm or disaster strikes (when professional assistance may be unavailable, power lines are down, and access roads are blocked). Backup power can help maintain a consistent building temperature and reduce the risk of freezing pipes leading to business disruption and damage.


  • Permanent generators should have a proper maintenance plan that includes weekly, monthly, and annual checks. See the manufacturer’s specifications for more information.
  • Run the unit weekly on its maintenance plan to ensure it is properly functioning in case of an emergency. Individual units may have a timer that allows a programmed test to be scheduled. Qualified personnel should oversee these scheduled weekly tests.
  • Check the generator enclosure for loose debris or other conditions that could cause the unit to not function properly.


  • Store in a dry location.
  • Set up a maintenance schedule to include periodic test runs for the unit

6. Check your roof and gutters

    Water that does not properly drain off a roof has the potential to freeze, adding to snow load and creating ice dams. Ice dams can add significant additional loads to the roof and could cause interior water damage if left unattended. It is important for your team to maintain the roof drains and gutters.

    Low slope (flat) roofs:

    • Inspect roof and repair leaks before winter season.
    • Remove all debris and other items from roof and roof drainage systems that prevent drainage of water from the roof during the melting process.
    • Check that all flashing and seals are flush and secure.

    Steep slope roofs:

    • Inspect your roof and repair leaks before winter season.
    • Secure loose shingles.
    • Check roof-edge waterproofing and seal to prevent potential drafts.
    • Add extra insulation in your attic or surrounding areas.


    • Inspect gutters and ensure they’re secured to the building. Replace any missing gutter fasteners.
    • Clean gutters and interior downspouts thoroughly, removing all debris and unclogging drains.
    • Run test of gutters and downspouts to be sure water does not back up. This can be done by using a hose.
    • Check downspouts to ensure they divert water away from the foundation.

     7. Create a business continuity plan

    • Have a plan for communicating with employees across multiple channels (text, email, phone).
    • Have an emergency/recovery plan that is communicated to employees, customers, clients, delivery, etc.
    • Create a snow and ice removal plan for all roofs and grounds.
    • Plan for emergency snow removal in event of heavy accumulation. Identify and supply proper equipment and check it in advance of predicted snow.
    • Some businesses rely on on-street parking, so develop a back-up plan for nearby off-street parking if the municipality imposes a parking ban on streets (for plows). This occurs more frequently in the north, even hours before snow is expected, so they can pre-treat the roads.
    • Purchase and be ready to add non-slip water absorption mats to all entrances for both your employees and customers to capture water and snow as they enter your business and to minimize slips and falls.
    • Test/practice the plan.

    8. Check your insurance coverage and inventory valuable equipment

    • Know what your insurance covers and what it doesn’t
    • Keep your insurance agent’s contact in your phone
    • If you have a loss due to a winter-related event, you’ll have to itemize your losses for your insurance company. Take a complete inventory of your home and store it somewhere safely offsite.

    NOTE: Check in with tenants regarding any maintenance requests or building concerns they may have. Living or working in your commercial property means they are on constant alert to their surroundings. If they see, hear, or smell something, ask that they say something.

    We know what you’re thinking…”it’s too early to talk about snow plow services!”.

    Unfortunately, what we’ve learned in our years of property management is that it’s never too early to start planning your winter property services. The snow could, and usually does, begin to fall earlier than we expected. And this year, we want you to be prepared!

    As you begin to think about crossing your summer landscaping tasks off the to-do list, it’s time to start looking at what your winter landscaping tasks are going to look like.

    Keep reading to find out what types of winter landscaping and property maintenance tasks you should be aware of  BEFORE THE SNOW FALLS!


    4 Thing You Should Do As a Commercial Property Owner Before Winter

    As Alberta continues in its reopening plan, allowing businesses to open back up to the public, commercial property owners are now preparing for a successful business season!

    However, once the freezing temperatures return, the safety of their customers will become increasingly more important!

    As the snow and ice begins to pile up, customers have a higher risk of falling, being struck by falling ice, causing accidents in the parking lot etc. This is the point at which property owners becomes more focused on implementing risk management in order to protect customers and avoid costly lawsuits.

    In order to achieve both a successful and safe season of business, here is what our experts at Servis Realty recommend:

    1. Schedule Your Snow Plow Services and Snow Removal Services NOW.

    Although it might seem a little eager to be scheduling your snow plow services and snow removal services at the beginning of fall, it is definitely a good idea!

    Snow removal companies have their schedules pretty much spoken for long before the snow comes. And we want to make sure that you have the services you need when you need them!

    One of the best ways to keep your commercial property safe during the winter is to make sure that the parking lot is plowed frequently (especially right after a fresh snowfall) and that the snow is properly removed from the premises (or placed in an unused area on the property).

    This helps ensure that your customers, their vehicles, and your property are protected from potential snow and ice hazards.

    2. Schedule Your Salting, Sanding and Walkway Clearing Services

    Much like plowing and snow removal, the tasks of salting, sanding and walkway clearing are all equally necessary to the safety of your commercial property location.

    If your walkways and entrances are not properly maintained, your customers may risk slipping, falling and injuring themselves. Which could then cause quite a costly lawsuit!

    3. Clear away ALL potential outdoor hazards.

    Are there any potential outdoor hazards on your property? Although most hazards appear quite obvious to us, there are a few that may seem less important!

    Examples Of Potential Outdoor Hazards:

    • Broken Tree Branches
    • Misplaced Rocks
    • Drainage Issues
    • Potholes

    Regardless of whether the hazard is large or small, it is incredibly important that these are removed BEFORE the snow falls. Otherwise you won’t be able to see them and the snowplow could potentially hit them.

    We also recommend that you remove the potential hazards before the first frost, as it is harder to move objects around outside when they become frozen to the ground.

    4. What Happens When The Weather Gets Too Intense?

    Let’s face it, intense weather is basically inevitable in Canada. And predicting it can be next to impossible. Sometimes, a warning isn’t given and we have very little time to deal with an extreme weather situation!

    Whether it be extreme ice, snow or rain, it’s important for commercial property owners to have a backup plan in mind. For example, if your snow removal company is not able to respond to your immediate commercial property management needs, who is going to get the job done? Do you have an emergency property maintenance company on call?

    It’s Never Too Early To Talk About Winter Safety

    Snow and ice management is so important in Central Alberta. And, if you’ve lived here as long as we have, you’ll know that Edmonton and area are not excluded from that! In fact, we’ve had storms that have lasted for days!

    If the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is to BE PREPARED. Especially for the unexpected.

    Let Servis Realty manage your commercial property so you can focus on what’s important.

    Waiting till the last minute to figure out these details can cause stress, overwhelm and a massive headache! Instead, let us schedule your property management services in advance – saving both you and our team a lot of unnecessary juggling!


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