Subject: Re: St. George cold spell – water damage prevention

Commercial Property Owners,

Southern Utah usually doesn’t have to worry about frozen pipes and subsequent water damage.  That’s why we live in Utah’s sunbelt.  However, every so many years, we get a real cold spell and such a time is upon us. 
Several years ago, I had a client whose vacant warehouse sprinkler pipes froze and busted the pipes.  The resulting water damage completely destroyed the large offices in the building.  Many other commercial property owners were also caught off guard during those couple of days.  Don’t let this happen to you.  I still have emotional trauma from that one after witnessing the damage; it was literally pouring down hard rain inside the completely-drenched offices with several inches of water on the floor.
The immediate St. George weather forecast is just above freezing with below normal overnight lows forecast.  However, this coming Monday and Sunday….it will not even get above freezing and overnight lows are forecast in the low teens.  Unless your water is already turned off and pipes drained…….you are asking for trouble.  To prevent damage, vacant (retail, office and warehouse) buildings heaters should all be turned on and set to a minimum heat level, perhaps 40-45 degrees.  Simply turning off the water will not prevent existing water in the pipes from freezing and causing damage, especially later whenever the water is turned back on.
I recommend that even occupied warehouses with sprinklers still want to maintain a minimum heating level overnight.  However, warehouse heat should not be an issue if you do not have fire-sprinklers or another water source in the warehouse.  Vacant single-tenant office and retail buildings (even vacant residential homes) are also at risk.  Smaller vacant spaces in between two other occupied suites could be OK, but it is your call.
Don’t forget about warehouse evaporative coolers (even though it is likely too late); they need their water lines turned off and drained….as well as the water reservoir drained.
In any respect, immediate preventative measures are warranted and needed to prevent potential damage.  Clients using NAI Property Management services should call Jon Vandermyde and discuss what level prevention you would like to take.
Sincerely,  Jason Griffith, CCIM