Winter is here! And many gym facility managers are worried. These maintenance managers want to ensure their hardwood floors will survive harsh winter weather. The icy grips of Jack-Frost can cause pipes to freeze and frack during frigid cold temperatures. That said, what many facility owners fear most is the costly expense of having to repair or replace expensive gym flooring. It is time to enforce a thorough gym floor winter maintenance routine.

Quality Hardwood Floors replaced over 233,318 sq. ft. of damaged wood flooring from Winter Storm Uri in 2021. This gave the QHF crews a first hand look at the hardwood horrors brought on by Uri. As a frantic John Snow, QHF has spent months educating facility managers on how to stave of the possible threats wrought by wintery weather.  

Freezing temperatures, power outages and burst pipes, oh my! If fear hasn't gripped its icy-cold fingers around you, consider a 2021 wintery nightmare.

Winter Storm Uri: Gym Floor Chaos

In February 2021, temperatures plummeted to below-freezing levels for almost 44 consecutive hours. Texans were not as prepared for feet of snow, power outages and water disruptions as their neighbors to the north typically are.  According to oneABC affiliate there were 4.3 million reported power outages. Additionally, 14 Million Texans (half the state) experienced water disruptions. This was a result of 900 ill-prepared public water systems in 164 counties failing from burst pipes.

The Texas Comptroller, Glen Hegar, estimated $80 billion to $130 billion in damages caused by Winter Storm Uri. Quality Hardwood Floors experienced this throughout the following year.  Adding to typical annual service load, QHF now had more-than-usual reports of gym floors cupping, cracking, buckling and facility managers crying. If only we could have signaled certain precautions to our customers. That being said, let’s go over a basic gym floor winter maintenance tips to help prepare your sports floors for winter.

Gym Floor Maintenance Tips:

Prepare A Winter Routine

Winter break is typically misleading.  This is due to large spaces, such as a school’s gymnasium, make great spaces for events such as end-of-year award ceremonies or tournaments while school is out. Planning routine spot cleaning and dust mopping is a small investment in protecting your gym floor during winter months. Especially with increased traffic. Planning a daily inspection also helps ensure a daily check for leaky pipes or drafty areas that allow winter weather to seep inside. 

Protect Exposed Pipes

Freezing temperatures can cause pipes to freeze-up and crack. And once things thaw out, broken pipes then lead to flooded gym floors.  Thus it is imperative to ensure your gym floor is insured! Because standing water, left to soak into your hardwoods subfloor, will cause you to replace the floor.  Insulating pipes can prevent pipes from disaster and reduce humidity. Frozen pipes also create condensation when in contact with warmer temperatures of the gym. Insulate any exposed pipes, especially pipes near exterior walls of your facility. 

Keep The Power On

One popular notion is to turn power off your HVAC system when the gym is not in use.  This can be costly in winter conditions.  Keep your HVAC system running in winter months.  For caution’s sake, it may be a good idea to procure portable generators to try and maintain temperatures during power outages.  If used, be sure to keep the generator exhaust outside of your gym facility.

Maintain Proper Indoor Conditions

As we mentioned above, it is important to maintain HVAC and plumbing systems to ensure they can hold up to winter conditions. A common mistake is to turn up the heat to combat wet, wintery weather.  Doing so can dry out and crack your hardwood floors. Thus, it’s important to maintain gym temperatures between 60-70 degrees and humidity ratios between 35%-50%.

Properly Seal Windows and Doors

QHF strongly recommends that you inspect windows and exterior doors of your facility.  In fact, interior temperatures can be compromised if you see sunlight coming through door or window frames.  Even slight window seal cracks in a can create drafty conditions. In other words, cracks will let in wet weather. Reinforce exterior windows and doors with appropriate weather stripping to protect against extreme weather conditions and control interior temperatures. 

Doormats: Entrances and Exits

Wintery weather is typically wet. As we mentioned hosting large events can bring wet muck onto gym floors. Doormats help ‘clean up’ traffic.  Entrance mats decrease the chance of introducing wet shoes, mud and muck with added foot traffic. 

Be Prepared: Gym Floor Maintenance

The farmer’s almanac states this 2021-22 winter be just as nasty as last year. We can all hope Texas’ power grid holds up. However, these precautions can keep you warm at night, knowing that you did all you could to salvage your gym floors from disaster. If disaster does strike, QHF is here to help.