Preparing for Winter: Electric Heat Tracing


At this time of the year, most buildings have turned off their chillers and are in the process of preparing the heating system in anticipation of the cooler weather and upcoming winter.  The need to turn on the boiler seems fairly obvious but there are a couple of other items that may need attention at this time of the year.

Ramps and stairwells

Most large buildings use electric heat tracing to remove the snow and ice from the ramps and outside stairs leading to the underground garage. This is the perfect time of year to test the cables and the automated snow sensor.  You will find yourself in a very long lineup for service if you wait until it snows to find that you have a section of the ramp that needs repair.  Last year one of our customers had a car slide into a closed garage door because they were having difficulty keeping the ramp clear of snow and ice.

Pipe tracing in cold areas

Underground parking garages are usually unheated, however, they have waterlines, drains and drip drums that need protection from the sub-zero temperatures.  The usual solution is to use electric heat tracing and insulation to protect these pipes.  The system works quite well, assuming that the insulation is in place and not damaged and the thermostat and cable are in good working order.  The temperatures last winter were quite mild but I do remember being involved in the repair of a frozen and damaged water pipe in a garage in the dead of winter.  I would not wish this scene on any property manager.

Signature Electric offers a program to address both of these concerns.  Our staff will test each of the heat trace cables, the ramp and stairwells cables for power and current draw. A report is prepared and sent, outlining the results and any action that needs to be taken.  In subsequent years we will call you in advance to remind you of the service and to schedule a date.

What is it that they say about an ounce of prevention?

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Wishing all of you an easy and enjoyable winter,