I grew up in the great white north. Actually, I grew up in South Dakota. But at times, it felt like I was living north of the Arctic Circle. Winters can be rough in the northern Midwest where the temperature regularly dips (and stays!) below zero, the wind hurts your face, and you have to plug in your car at night to get it to turn over in the morning. If your self storage property is in a northern or mountainous state, you’ve probably experienced winter blizzard conditions and have seen the negative effects of extreme cold.

While your kids may love making snow angels and building snow men, there are no “snow days” for business owners. Whether it snows three feet or the sun is shining, you’ve got to take care of your investment to ensure tenants are happy and the property is kept safe. If your property is in a northern state, check out this checklist to weatherproof your property to prepare for the cold and wet of winter.

Charlie Brown staring out his window as snow falls down.

Winter Prep Checklist for Self Storage Owners

Make sure you do these things before winter strikes your property. Being prepared can help you prevent thousands of dollars in damages from water and snow, and make your facility easy to access for tenants, no matter what time of year it is.

Before winter:

  • Check the structural integrity of the roof. Accumulating snow can put a lot of stress and weight on your roof, leading to leaks and water damage. Clean out the gutters, add extensions to downspouts, and check the roof for loose, damaged or missing shingles. If your roof is flat, rake or blow off debris, leaves, and pine needles. If your building had lots of icicles hanging on it last year, your roof may have an air leak or inadequate insulation. By having it repaired, you can save a lot of energy and prevent ice dams, which can cause meltwater to back up and flow into the building.

  • Trim any tree branches that are hanging close to roofs and siding. (They get heavy when covered in ice!)

  • Make sure your access control keypads are in good working condition. If necessary, check out weatherproofed keypad boxes to protect your keypad from water damage. If you have an outdoor self service kiosk on your property (like these hardy ones from Advanced Kiosks), make sure that the shell of the kiosk has been properly maintained to function flawlessly in cold or wet weather.

  • Secure on-demand snow removal services for your facility’s parking lot and driveway, or service your facility’s snow plow to prepare it for use.

  • Check and service your facility’s HVAC system, especially in your office and climate-controlled buildings.

  • Replace worn-out weather stripping around doors and window sills to keep warm air inside. On the outside of your office or building, check for gaps between siding and doors and windows. If the gaps are bigger than the width of a nickel, you’ll need to reapply exterior caulk to prevent heat from escaping through windows and doors.

  • Test your sump pump by pouring several gallons of water into it to make sure the pump turns on when it should. You should always test your sump pump after a long dry period or before the start of a rainy or wintry season.

Before the first freeze:

  • Restock winter essentials like shovels, windshield scrapers, rubber doormats, and ice melt. If you have a space heater or snow blower, make sure it’s in good working condition.

  • Ensure you have a winter storm emergency kit available in your office. Stock it with flashlights, a battery powered radio, waters, snack food, extra hats, socks, and mittens, a first aid kit, blankets, a charged power bank for cell phones, and jumper cables. (You’d be surprised how often jumper cables come in handy for your property managers.)

  • Disconnect hoses from the tap and drain all water that remains in the faucets.

  • Ensure your property managers all know how to shut off the building’s water valves in case a pipe bursts. If you have a backup generator, train managers on how to use it in the event of a power outage. Leave clear, posted instructions for how to shut off water valves and how to operate the backup generator in your office where all managers can access them.

Before a winter storm:

  • Contact your on-duty property managers and inform them of potential weather-related events, like changes to office or access hours and scheduled snow removal services.

  • Immediately notify all impacted tenants of potential closures, changes to access hours, or scheduled snow removal services. Send updates to tenants through your management software and post changes to your office hours or access hours on your website to ensure tenant safety during winter weather.

  • Post a list of emergency contacts and helpful phone numbers (like the phone number of your snow removal service and your local police or fire station) in the office where all managers can easily access it.

Don’t let snow and ice hinder your business’s potential. By prepping for winter weather months in advance, you’ll be able to handle whatever mother nature throws at you and impress your tenants with high-quality customer service.

Thanks for reading! If you liked this blog post, you may also like: How to prepare your self storage facility for a hurricane, How to choose the best gate security system for your self storage property, and What you need to know to host a successful storage auction.