Challenge/Solution: Preventive Maintenance

Preventive Maintenance: A Must for Building Exteriors

All matter breaks down over time. Structures that surround us are not an exception to that law of physics. Some building materials are more durable than others like stone and steel. Unfortunately, the time of the pyramids and cathedrals are over. Most of the structures erected today have a life expectancy of less than 100 years. Therefore, preventive maintenance of building exteriors has now become that much more important.

Every building/structure should have a preventive maintenance program in place for its exterior components. How extensive the program needs to be will depend directly on the size of the building, number of different materials and components, geographic location and personnel available to keep it updated.

The preventive maintenance program consists of two major parts, inspection and execution. During inspection of a building exterior, some of the more complex structures will require special access and assistance from professional firms. However, for most structures, an in-house maintenance crew – with a little bit of training – is capable of doing the job. When performing the inspection, it is extremely important to document the findings and keep them on a consistent format from year to year. This could be as simple as a three-ring binder with notes and pictures or a multi-layered spreadsheet. It is also necessary to inspect any work that has recently been performed as those repairs may still be under warranty. Some specific items to inspect and document regarding a building's exterior condition are:

  • Gutters, drains, downspouts, drainage
  • Perimeters of doors, windows and other wall penetrators
  • Building control and expansion joints
  • Wall, roof and walking/driving surfaces
  • Copings and flashings

The second part of any preventive maintenance program is execution. It is taking the data collected during inspections and putting the needed repairs into the budget. Depending on the condition of the structure, repairs may need to be prioritized. It is also important to evaluate the need for protective measures such as scalers or coatings.

If you are in charge of a structure that does not have a preventive maintenance program of an exterior in place, the purpose of this article is to get you thinking about implementing one. Preventive maintenance keeps the building off the deferred maintenance path, which usually means exponential costs. It prevents structural failures and promotes safer structures. It attracts and keeps tenants. Preventive maintenance for a structure's exterior is a must.