Closing a Hotel for Extended Periods

Answers to a few of the most-discussed hotel questions during COVID-19.


Coronavirus has had an impact on the ability of businesses to perform. It is prudent for businesses to review the information that may have lasting results on their relationships impacted by this pandemic.


Closing a Hotel for Extended Periods

Since every property is different in its design and complexity, it is impossible to establish standardized procedure for partial or full building closure for all hotels.

The Engineering team should know and understand their building and systems and it is up to them to determine the right procedures to control operating costs and protect the asset for the owner, without adversely impacting water safety or indoor air quality.  Consider having a staff member on site or provide, at a minimum, a daily walkthrough of the property.

Below are some best practices and suggestions to consider when preparing the building for partial or full closure:

Download Closing a Hotel Best Practices

General Building

  • Shut off power to all but one elevator, unless more than one is required by local Fire Department
    • Elevators should be “parked” on the floor of egress and locked out. Be sure these overrides do not interfere with emergency power elevator programming or fireman’s mode of operation.
  • Shut off or reduce lighting in unoccupied areas.
  • Shut down ice machines on guest floors and kitchens. Remove and discard all ice in the machine and follow the proper start-up procedures when turning machines back on including replacement of the water filter.
  • For closure of pools and spas, see direction under separate cover.
  • Secure doors in unoccupied areas without restricting emergency egress.
  • Shut off power to all non-critical electrical equipment.
  • Electrical power should be maintained for all equipment related to fire and life safety, building HVAC, and other equipment or systems needed during the closure.
  • Zone temperatures for comfort cooling or heating can be set to an energy conservation setting in unoccupied or lightly occupied areas.
    • Temperatures should never be allowed to go below 55 F or above 85 F.
    • Humidity should be maintained between 40% and 60% relative humidity in occupied buildings and should never go below 30% or above 65% in buildings closed for business.
  • Exterior building lighting should remain on as a security measure. Building signage lighting should be turned off.
  • Check building exterior roof access is secured
  • Check roof cover for water puddles/leak damage; interior ceiling for signs of recent water damage
  • Confirm fire sprinkler waterflow visual and audible alarms and central station monitoring (if applicable) are operational
  • Again, confirm building heating temperatures remain above freezing if the fire sprinkler system is Wet design. Purpose:  Avoid sprinkler pipe splitting / joint leaks due to frozen water in pipes/sprinkler head.
  • Secure all exterior doors but ensure all fire exits remain fully operational.

If you have questions regarding your specific building systems and whether they should be shut down, please reach out to your Area Director of Engineering.

Plant/ Boiler Room

  • Shut off all pumps
    • Circulation Pumps
    • Recirculation pumps
  • Shut off all-natural gas or electric equipment
    • Close gas valves – ensure that pilot lights are extinguished
    • Shut off circuit breakers
  • Shut off all powered venters once the gas has been turned off

Hotel Laundry

  • Shut off all washing machines – turn off circuit breakers that power washing machines
  • Shut off water supply to washing machines/washing machine hoses. Ensure the water connections are completely off AND not leaking
  • Shut off all dryers
    • Natural gas dryers – close gas valve to dryers
    • Electric dryers – turn off circuit breakers that power washing machines
  • Folding/ ironing equipment
    • Turn off all sources of power to equipment – compressed air, natural gas, electricity

Kitchen/ Bar

Shut off all equipment

    • Unplug counter mounted electric powered equipment (microwaves, blenders, mixers, etc.)
    • Close gas valve to all-natural gas equipment (stoves, overs, flat-tops, salamanders, etc.)
      • Ensure kitchen hood systems and associated hood make-up-air systems are shut down on lines where gas has been shut off
    • Turn off circuit breakers to all large electric powered equipment (combi-ovens, grills, etc.)
    • It is recommended that refrigeration equipment remain operational, even if empty.

Guest Rooms

  • Turn off all lights
  • Ensure that all sink faucets, tub/ shower faucets are completely off AND not leaking
  • Turn off water supply valve to all toilets
  • Ensure all drains (sink, tub and shower) are open
  • Set thermostats to sensible seasonal energy conservation setpoints
  • Close all blinds and curtains
  • If bathrooms are equipped with switched exhaust fans, shut off fan
Examples of the critical equipment that should NOT be shut down during a partial or full building closure include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Fire Alarm System – Consider contacting local PD & FD to notify the building will be unoccupied
  • Fire Sprinkler System Controls
  • Emergency Lighting
  • Fire Pump
  • Computer Room AC
  • Domestic Water Pumps
  • Sewage Ejection Pumps
  • Sump Pumps or Lift Stations (Dewatering Pumps)
  • Radio Repeaters
  • Cell Phone Towers or Repeaters
  • Security Systems, Cameras, and Monitors
  • PBX Switch – if possible, forward phones to monitored number
  • Building Automation System
  • Keep all HVAC system components operational, and set to energy saving temperatures
    • This prevents indoor air quality issues later.
    • This equipment includes chillers, cooling towers, air handlers, MAUs, FCUs, exhaust fans, etc.

Ensuring Water Safety During Partial or Full Building Closure

  • The cooling water treatment program inclusive of all required monitoring and testing must be maintained during a building closure.
  • Depending on the length of the partial or full building closure it may be necessary to flow water at multiple locations throughout the building to prevent the water from stagnating and to prevent the need for a required disinfection of the system later.
    • Run water in areas of the hotel that have been closed and unoccupied for more than 7 days.
      • In guest rooms, water should be flowed through all fixtures including the bath sink, bar or kitchen sink, tub spout showerhead and handheld shower.
      • Flowing both hot and cold water for 5 minutes minimum, every 7 days, will prevent the water from becoming stagnant and prevent odors from emanating from the drains.
    • The toilet should be flushed twice and lightly scrubbed if needed.
    • Public restrooms, back of house sinks, kitchens, and laundries should also be included in this round if closed for more than 7 days.
    • During this round it is recommended to also pour fresh water down floor drains to keep the traps wet and prevent odors from emanating from the drains.

IMA is a Resource

Need a checklist for COVID-19 while continuing to work?  Know that IMA’s Risk Management Center (RMC) has a simple audit checklist. If you haven’t availed yourself in the past to our RMC, all clients can register at