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Cold Weather Precautions for NIH Facilities

Next week, there are several days of below-freezing temperatures forecasted for the Washington, DC area, starting around January 15, 2024. Please review the following information to help minimize heat loss in buildings and reduce the risk of damage due to frozen pipes. 


  • Ensure all exterior doors are closed when you leave for the day.  This is one of the main causes of utilities freezing.
  • Close the shades or blinds at the end of the day to help keep the heat in the space.
  • If you occupy a space which is permitted to have a portable space heater, turn it off before you leave for the day. Never leave it on while unattended. (Division of the Fire Marshal's (DFM) Administrative Interpretation 17-7)


If you notice any of the following issues, make a Division of Facilities, Operations and Maintenance (DFOM) Maintenance Service Request by calling 301-435-8000 or by submitting an online request (NIH only), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


  • Exterior doors which are not operating correctly, e.g., overhead door is off track, exterior doors with broken closers or latches, or doors blocked open
  • Broken or open exterior windows
  • Openings in the ceiling of exterior canopies, overhangs or lobbies, such as unsealed penetrations or open/missing access panels
  • Missing ceiling tiles on interior of building
  • Water leaking on walls or floors, or any new stains on ceiling tiles
  • Areas that are cooler than normal. The HVAC system may not be operating properly
  • Supplemental heating equipment (e.g., unit heaters, air curtains and heat lamps) not working in areas such as loading docks, stairways, lobbies or penthouses


The adage, “if you see something, say something" applies to many of the above items. Notifying your Facility Manager or DFOM will help protect our buildings and facilities from unwanted frozen utilities, while also improving safety and security. Questions and notifications may be directed to the Division of Facilities, Operations and Maintenance or your building's Facility Manager.


Thank you for your assistance in minimizing the risk of froze pipes damaging research and interrupting the mission of NIH.​