BUSINESS owners have been urged to carry out important checks to their premises to ensure they aren’t left with any nasty surprises this winter.

Durham City-based Wilkinson Maintenance reckon that by carrying out routine checks, businesses can help protect themselves from large repair bills from the increased wear and tear brought on by the cold and wet weather.

Stuart Anderson, the firm's managing director, said: “As we experienced last year, winter can be very varied. Changes in temperature, moisture and, of course, snowfall can cause serious issues to commercial properties.

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“As we have seen with the flooding we’ve been experiencing this year, weather can cause catastrophic damage. Our call outs have increased by 20 per cent over the last six months due to the poor weather.”

Ensuring the general maintenance of a commercial property can be a time consuming task, but Stuart says that by carrying out the following checks businesses can help protect themselves:

• All piping should be well insulated to prevent freezing as the temperatures plunge.

• Structural work should also be inspected to ensure there are no cracks, loose roof tiles etc. These problems could be made dramatically worse by water getting inside and freezing.

• Draughts can be a big problem in the icy chill of winter. Protect your business by using expanding foam filler to banish the draught if outward pipe holes are not fully sealed.

Mr Anderson added: “Winter is a very busy time for us taking calls for weather-related problems that have arisen. Many of these issues could not have been foreseen but some could have been avoided by taking precautions."