Winter can bring some challenges for construction contractors throughout the country. Even in warmer climates like Florida, it is important to know when you need to protect your site and equipment from freezing temperatures and winter conditions. From securing an empty worksite to keeping machinery in working condition, here are a few ways to make sure that your construction site is ready for late winter.
Don’t Overwork Your Engines
Heavy equipment and machinery can require some extra attention to keep them running in premium condition. First, you should make sure to follow all manufacturers’ guidelines regarding use and lubrication, but here are a few easy steps to make sure you keep your engines running smoothly.
- Always use a winter fuel blend, which will help run at lower pressures and actually be a little cheaper.
- Allow your machines to warm up before using them to full effect. Idling the engine is not that effective at warming the engine, so just operate the machine at low speed until everything is running smoothly.
- Don’t allow diesel engines to idle for long periods. Idling in the cold lets water build up in the exhaust that can cause problems later.
- Make sure to fill your gas tanks at the end of the day to avoid condensation and rust in your fuel tanks.
Control Winter Erosion
Winter erosion and runoff is one of the biggest problems facing most construction sites. Between snow melt and winter rain storms, it can be difficult to control sediment and dust throughout winter and into early spring. Depending on your location, there are a number of tactics you should employ to make sure that your site does not leak pollutants or sediment into the neighborhood.
- Precipitation is the most important factor in preparing your site. Understand how much rain or snow you can expect and work direct any snowmelt into a manageable area.
- Erosion control blankets should be placed over dirt piles to prevent precipitation from washing them away.
- Know your soil. Clay and organic soils are resistant to erosion, while silt and sugar sand will erode very quickly.
- Dirt roads are very susceptible to runoff, but there are a number of ways to mitigate winter precipitation. Hydrogels like Soil2O absorb and trap up to 400 times their weight in water, which can help slow or arrest erosion and sediment runoff.
- Adding woodwaste mulch and vegetation to the borders of your site can increase soil integrity and help trap any sediment in runoff water, adding a natural filter to any water that leaves your site.
It’s important to remember that the start of spring does not mean that you can relax, even if you have had a mild winter. Spring thaws produce a lot of water from melting snow and thawed ground. Make sure to maintain all drainage routes and the keep your erosion control methods in place throughout early spring.
Securing Your Site
Keeping your site safe is important throughout the year, but winter conditions can make construction sites even more hazardous. Your site should always be secured with safety fences, but in winter unstable ground conditions can affect workers and visitors to the site. Make sure to have clearly marked, reinforced pathways for work and stabilize all equipment and heavy machinery prior to beginning work.
Mike Poslaiko is the Director of Marketing for GelTech Solutions which focuses on bringing environmentally friendly solutions to homeowners and industries alike.