Building maintenance refers to a variety of year-round activities that are carried out to ensure the infrastructure of an organization is fully functional, all the while sustaining maximum uptime of all building systems including electrical systems, safety systems, and HVAC systems (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), among others.
Considering how this entails a never-ending list of a variety of tasks, building maintenance is not a one-man responsibility. Therefore, to fully understand what building maintenance is, we’ll have to delve deeper into the subject.
For that purpose, in this article, we’ll take you through, the different types of building maintenance, why building maintenance is important, what constitutes the building maintenance checklist, and its typical framework.
Let’s get started.
What Is Building Maintenance?
Building maintenance (often referred to as facilities maintenance)is the constant set of activities of ensuring your building systems (electrical, safety, HVAC, structural, plumbing, and lighting) are working at their maximum efficiency level, and your overall building infrastructure is in its fully functional and visibly appealing condition.
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Since building maintenance is complex and requires a proper maintenance team instead of a mere handyman, most organizations have entire maintenance departments.
However, some small organizations prefer hiring sole building maintenance workers for their general maintenance (minimal tasks for small repair works) and outsource other more complicated issues to companies that offer building maintenance services.
According to the regular hierarchy of a building maintenance department that depends on the level of complexity of the issues, all organizations specify at least three roles – building maintenance worker/janitor, building maintenance technician, and building maintenance manager.
All things considered, every facility has maintenance needs that are restricted to time (daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly). Effective building maintenance plays a huge role in allowing a facility’s operations to run smoothly.
Types of Building Maintenance
Here are the different types of building maintenance job descriptions:
- Routine Maintenance– This includes building maintenance activities that are planned, documented, and scheduled beforehand. Routine maintenance allows timely minor repairs in order to prevent major repairs and failures in the future.
- Preventive Maintenance– Preventive maintenance programs are maintenance procedures carried out on specific systems in order to allow them to run on their maximum efficiency levels and safeguard them from minor or major failures. An example includes cleaning the air filters every month. An effective preventive maintenance program can extend the life of your assets.
- Front-line Maintenance– These maintenance activities are carried out while the organization is fully operational without affecting any activity, such as, cleaning the windows and doors, or repainting an office wall.
Remember – it’s not a matter of selecting 1 particular type of maintenance. Every organization needs to allocate resources to all 3.
Why Building Maintenance is Important
Before hiring a building maintenance service or establish a building maintenance department, it is reasonable to ask what happens when a building is neglected and poorly maintained.
To answer that, here’s why building maintenance is important:
- Cost-Effective – building maintenance saves a hefty amount of money in the long run. When a facility’s assets and systems are well maintained, they deliver maximum efficiency and a longer lifespan.
- Health and Safety – in order to create a healthy and safe environment for employees to ensure their productivity, it is important to make sure that everything around them is clean, operational, optimal, safe, well-lit, fresh, and unpolluted. All of this, and more, can only be guaranteed by a properly maintained facility.
Moreover, a well-maintained facility ensures an attractive appearance and in turn a good impression of the organization to employees and clients.
Building Maintenance Checklist
There are a diverse set of tasks that the building maintenance department delegates to specific maintenance teams responsible for the different building systems.
It’s important to understand exactly what those tasks are.
Therefore, we have compiled a preventive maintenance checklist of the different building systems and their respective maintenance tasks that are relevant to most facilities below:
Since the maintenance of electrical systems requires expertise in its installation, inspection, and troubleshooting, it is recommended to have a licensed maintenance technician with ample experience in the field.
Having said that, here are the common tasks performed regularly under electrical systems maintenance in order to ensure optimal energy management:
- Check if the electrical outlets are operating properly.
- Inspect enclosed wire connections (electrical boxes) and wiring to detect signs of failure or corrosion, and to prevent overheating.
- Inspect if the GFCI outlets (ground-fault circuit interrupter) for protection is installed in all appropriate places and is fully functional.
- Double-check if the batteries in test instruments, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, etc, are operating efficiently.
- Inspect the state of the cover plates on electrical outlets, and make sure they are installed tightly and are free from defects.
- Lubricate electrical systems that are at risk of experiencing overcurrent due to overloads, short circuits, or ground faults, and install overcurrent protection device (OCPD) where needed.
- Ensure that all switches and fuse units are of high-quality in order to prevent repair costs and failures, and replace them when needed.
In addition to the above, technicians should also regularly inspect electrical wirings to prevent any fire and safety hazards.
Needless to say, your employees’ safety comes first. However, maintenance of safety systems isn’t just about the safety of personnel, but also your facility and its assets.
Here are the maintenance steps that you can take to ensure the safety of your facility and employees:
- Make sure first aid kits are always available, if not, regularly restock them.
- Check if safety and hazard signs and labels on all equipment and outlets are visible and accessible to everyone.
- Make sure respirators are stocked for emergency purposes.
- Ensure that the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are always fully functioning.
- Make sure fire alarm system is properly placed, including the availability of fire extinguishers, and accessible fire escapes and emergency exits.
- Inspect if the proper safety guidelines are being followed while using chemicals and hazardous substances and their disposal.
Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system ensures healthy indoor air quality. Therefore it is important to ensure that your system is in optimal condition at all times.
Here are the few necessary tasks required for your HVAC system’s maintenance:
- Regularly clean and replace the air filters within 6 months.
- Check if the exhaust fans are clean and running smoothly.
- Regulate noise and vibration of blower motors.
- Check the fitting, flexibility, and condition of duct connectors.
- Clean the ductwork (tubes for transport of air from HVAC vents to the facility) and replace them when necessary.
- Make sure that the screws, latches, panels, and guards aren’t loose or damaged. Replace them when necessary.
- Minimize the mineral residue in water heaters in order to maximize their operation.
- Regularly drain and clean boilers, and replace their oil filters.
- Inspect pumps for leaks, damage and noises, and monitor their oil levels.
- Check if the condenser motor is fully functional, specifically its condenser coil, and air quality.
- Investigate leaks in pipes, tubes and fittings for the compressed air lines system.
By checking all of the aforementioned boxes, your HVAC will stay up and running for years.
Even a small water leak can ruin the entire infrastructure of your facility. Therefore, the upkeep of the plumbing systems of your building can never be compromised.
Here are a few ways to maintain your facility’s plumbing systems:
- Inspect water heaters and boilers for fire prevention through conducting regular fire-tests.
- Check pipes, tanks, and fittings for leaks, unusual noises, or damage, and clean them regularly to prevent clogging and blockages.
- Double-check that the water booster and circulation pumps are lubricated regularly.
- Check if the sump and sewage ejection pumps are fully functional – lubricate them regularly and replace them if needed.
- Ensure that the water treatment monitoring and control systems are operating properly.
- Make sure that the plumbing system is connected to a proper drainage and sewerage system that meets the sanitary requirements.
It is always important to have ample lighting in the facility to ensure maximum productivity of the employees, and an overall comfortable environment.
These are the maintenance tasks that can help maintain your systems:
- Check the installation and functionality of all lighting devices. Clean them when needed, and replace and properly dispose the fused light bulbs and other parts.
- Ensure that the cables and screws are tightly fitted to prevent damage.
- Make sure all lighting devices and their lens surface are regularly dusted.
- Schedule regular lighting inspection for exit lighting, exterior lighting, and interior lighting to ensure their optimum functioning.
Finally, make sure you choose the right colors for your facility’s lighting.
Structural Systems – Building Interior and Exterior
Besides the above, it is also important to ensure that your facility’s appearance is as good as new.
Here’s the tasks that ensure your structural systems retain their best conditions:
- Inspect your flooring, walls, ceilings, and roof for signs of damage, leaks, mould, and decay. If needed, consider replacing and repairing them.
- Make sure that the facility’s every-day use systems are in their optimal condition, including, faucets, toilets, showers, etc.
- Ensure door locks and hinges are lubricated and elevator and lifts are operating properly.
- Regularly ensure that the emergency exits and hallways aren’t blocked.
- Maintain a proper garbage and recycling system. Additionally, you should also monitor proper waste dumping to meet safety and health requirements.
- Inspect for signs of pest infestation and schedule for pest control regularly.
- Check for signs of paint chippings, dullness of paint, and loose wallpapers, and replace them.
- Schedule lawn care including landscaping and mowing.
- Check for broken windows, doors, and other closures.
- Inspect facility grounds for broken glass, cracks in the pavements, and other debris that is adversely affecting the appearance of the facility.
- Make sure the sidewalks, driveways, and parking areas are cleaned regularly.
- Double-check that the roofing is weather and water resistant.
Moreover, you can either hire a permanent janitor/handyman for these tasks or call for external set-ups that offer janitorial services when needed.
Wrapping it Up
Building maintenance is a need for every organization that is hosted in a facility. However, it depends on the organization if it's going to hire building maintenance services when needed or sustain a separate building maintenance department in their organization. If they decide to hire someone, it's crucial to carefully check out their building maintenance resume before hiring them.
Regardless of what you choose for your organization, it is important to remember that ensuring that the building maintenance checklist for tasks is being followed through (specifically, your modified list), otherwise, your organization will compromise the safety and comfort of its employees and suffer hefty damage, and repair costs in the long run.
Josh is a partner at Maintenance Manager HQ.