Six Tips for Preventative Maintenance Of Commercial Properties
Preventative maintenance of commercial properties is the most cost-effective way to minimize wear and tear on a commercial building due to weather and normal use. Having a carefully designed commercial building maintenance strategy will reduce the risk of costly fixes down the road, too, and extend the life of expensive building assets like the HVAC system and roof. Consider six preventive maintenance tips that will help get you started.
Tip 1 – Create a Maintenance Checklist
Commercial property maintenance is impossible without knowing the equipment and systems that require regular inspections and preventative maintenance. As a result, property managers must pinpoint items in the building that need regular maintenance. While this will vary by property, most properties will have the following equipment and systems that require maintenance:
- Electrical & Lighting System
- Parking Lots & Pavement
- Fire Alarms & Sprinklers
- Access Controls
Take a minute to go through your commercial building and add on any other assets. For example, if the building has elevators, an irrigation system or automatic gates, put them on the list.
Tip 2 – Implement Preventative Maintenance Based on Seasonality
Look at your maintenance schedule and consider the variances that apply to each season, too. In the fall, for example, you’ll want to pay extra attention to the roof, especially in regions where winter weather includes snow and ice.
Winterizing the roof will increase its useful life and decrease heating costs. Make roof inspections a priority in every season, but minor repairs to areas like flashings and drains in the fall will get your building ready for the inclement weather to come. Also inspect the areas around the roof to remove any potential hazards. This might include trimming trees or removing fallen leaves.
During the winter months, be aggressive with snow removal and deicing. Make sure all plumbing is winterized and put out mats for people to wipe their feet on each side of the doors. This not only keeps pathways clear of ice, but can mitigate the risk of possible liabilities should someone slip or fall. It also reduces the amount of ice and salt being tracked into the building which can damage floors.
When spring hits, you’ll want to clean up debris left over from winter around the building and on the roof. Consider power washing the pavement and the exterior of the building along with re-sodding any dead spots in the grass. The spring also serves as a good time to check the irrigation system, replacing any nozzles that don’t work. The spring is also the time of year to have your cooling system inspected and serviced. This helps guarantee it won’t fail during hot summer months.
In summer, focus on ways to make the building more environmentally-friendly to reduce cooling costs such as tinting windows. You can also help keep your building cooler by looking into reflective roof coatings, which block incoming sunlight away instead of absorbing that heat.
Tip 3 – Think Beyond the Building
There is more to your commercial property than the main building. As a result, preventative maintenance of commercial properties should include every area of the property. In most cases, it is easy for property managers to overlook just the main building and equipment, but this is a mistake. Replacing the roof on a small outbuilding that houses utility equipment can still be a major expense. Here some commonly overlooked parts of a commercial property that should be included in the preventative maintenance plan.
- Outbuildings such as sheds or garages
- Perimeter fences and automatic gates
- Irrigation systems
- Parking garages and parking lots
By including these other areas of a property in the preventative maintenance plan, and fixing issues that arise as you go, can help avoid costly repairs and replacement projects down the road.
Tip 4 – Prevent Pest Infestations Before they Happen
Completing regular property walks and inspections of the building to look for cracks, small openings and access points will help keep pests away. Watch for access areas like a crack in joints and the bottoms of doors. Keep the landscaping neat and trimmed back away from the building, too. Trees should not touch the building.
Hire a pest control service to help keep areas pest-free. They have the expertise to point out areas that give small animals access and can tend to any problem areas discovered during your own inspections.
Another way to prevent pest infestations is simply by keeping all areas of the building clean. Make sure there is no food lying around and sanitize trash bins and dumpsters regularly. For apartment communities, a valet trash service is a great option to eliminate messy dumpster and reduce pest and rodent issues.
Tip 5 – Don’t Forget the Easy to Ignore Areas of the Property
If you don’t see them every day, they’re easy to forget. Make all roofs a key focus in your preventive maintenance strategy. Repairing or replacing a commercial roof can be incredibly costly, so the more roof maintenance you do the better. Commercial roof maintenance might include any of the following:
- Testing and inspecting the roof’s drainage system
- Annual roof inspection and health checkup
- Checking for heat damage after the summer
- Developing a roof snow removal plan
A building’s foundation is another area that is often forgotten, but can lead to some of the most disastrous and costly repairs. Depending on where your property is located, natural events like seismic movement, excessive rainfall or excessive drought could cause deterioration to the foundation. On the west coast, for example, it’s important to make sure your building avoids possible structural damage, or even a collapse in the event of an earthquake. While there aren’t many simple ways to mitigate this risk, one preventative step could be having your building evaluated for a possible seismic retrofit.
However, there are more practical preventative maintenance tasks that can be performed on your property’s foundation. Consider installing a drip hose along the edge of the foundation if drought persists in your building’s location. Property managers can also check for puddling in specific areas during high rainfall, which might negatively-affect the foundation on a long-term basis.
Tip 6 – Bundle Your Strategy into a Planned Preventive Maintenance Book
Create a maintenance manual that includes maintenance schedules for each season. It should have guidelines on how to handle specific equipment and situations, as well. Break the book down into easy to find sections such as:
- Floor care
- HVAC maintenance
- Pest control
The book should be specific to that building. If you manage a portfolio that includes more than one property, each one should have it’s own maintenance book with specific maintenance details. Adding a supply audit to the book is another way to ensure you always have what you need to get the work done.
Saving Money by Spending Some Extra Time
While these tips for preventative maintenance of commercial properties, and others, might require more of your time, it’s time well spent if these steps keep your property in top condition and free from any potential high-cost repairs. As a property manager or owner, it’s your responsibility to care for your building and this should begin with putting the necessary time into these preventative maintenance tasks.
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