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Winter Maintenance Tips for Commercial Buildings

12/18/2018 (Permalink)

Commercial Winter Maintenance Tips for Commercial Buildings Winter Maintenance Tips for Commercial Buildings

While the cold weather may be great for deer hunting or ice fishing, it can be challenging for maintenance and service teams. As a result, preparing your commercial buildings and facilities for winter becomes all the more critical.

In this blog post, we will highlight maintenance tips you can do as a building owner or facility manager to prepare your properties for the heating season. Most of these tips are tied solely to your heating and cooling systems, while others focus on your building structure and the areas around it. All play a part in ensuring you are ready for whatever Mother Nature has up her sleeve.  

Inspect Heating Systems

It’s a no-brainer that maintaining your heating systems should be a top priority in colder weather. We recommend that you inspect heating systems regularly and create a written plan to outline what maintenance tasks need to be addressed daily, weekly, monthly and annually.

Concerning equipment, hot water heating boilers will see increased use.

To ensure their proper operation, we suggest you:

  • Examine flues for carbon buildup
  • Analyze combustion to ensure the flames burn cleanly and efficiently
  • Check safeties for proper operation
  • Look for cracked heat exchangers
  • Examine water pressure gauges to ensure they are calibrated correctly
  • Remove and clean burners
  • Brush boiler tubes
  • Check expansion tanks for proper air cushion and to ensure they aren’t flooded
  • Furnaces and rooftop units also need to be checked. Specifically, look for cracks in the heat exchangers, which can leak dangerous carbon dioxide into a building. *For furnaces older than 10 years, consider replacement. Efficiency ratings for today’s equipment far exceed those of older ones, sometimes as much as 40 percent or more.
  • Winterize Cooling Systems

    While heating systems move on-line, cooling systems not in use during the cold season need to be winterized. This might include draining your cooling tower, shutting down your chiller or emptying a condensate drain trap. Not addressing maintenance tasks as systems are taken off-line could result in significant damage to them. Additionally, necessary repairs can be addressed at this time rather than at the moment when you need cooling in the spring and summer.

    Calibrate Thermostats / Reduce Set Points

    This suggestion contains two points. First, by calibrating your building’s thermostats, you ensure your heating systems will operate more efficiently. And that saves money. You know what else saves money? Lowering the temperature in your building (not too much, though, as you don’t want building occupants to be uncomfortable). Studies show you lower your utility bill by an average of one percent for every degree dropped. Imagine the savings you’ll enjoy over the course of a winter!

    9 Tips on How to Prepare Your Commercial Building for a Snow Storm

    12/14/2018 (Permalink)

    Commercial 9 Tips on How to Prepare Your Commercial Building for a Snow Storm 9 Tips on How to Prepare Your Commercial Building for a Snow Storm

    Is your commercial building and HVAC system ready for a snow storm?

    Prevent Costly Facility Issues with these Facility Maintenance Winter Tips

    Snow, ice, and freezing rain can wreak havoc on a commercial building, especially if you are not prepared. Here is a checklist of tasks to help any building owner or property manager prepare for a snow storm.

    Checklist to Prepare Your Office Building for a Snow Storm:

  • Have a Plan: As a property manager, it is important to have a written emergency and disaster plan in place, including preventive measures and procedures. Also, list critical shut-off locations for water, electrical mains, emergency generators, and fire protection systems.
  • Preventative Maintenance: Have your water heater and HVAC system inspected and serviced regularly. These systems work especially hard during the winter.
  • Identify and Address Potential Issues: Before the storm hits, it is important to identify and address potential issues, such as pavement deficiencies that may become covered by snow, or roof drainage issues that can cause water to drain onto walkways.
  • Snow Removal: The flat roofs on most commercial buildings are prone to freezing, thawing, and refreezing, which can plug roof drains and add excess weight, which could cause the roof to collapse. This is why it is so important to remove snow as necessary, ensuring areas around vents and exhaust pipes are clear.
  • Pipes: Wrap vulnerable pipes with insulation sleeves to keep them from freezing. If a pipe does freeze and burst, turn off the main water supply to the pipe immediately and leave the faucet open until repairs can be made.
  • Clear Walkways: Keep walkways clear of snow and ice. Use salt, chemical pellets, and sand as appropriate. It is also a good idea to display caution signs where appropriate.
  • Emergency Generators: Check the fuel oil supply for Emergency Generators in case there is a power outage.
  • HVAC System: Be sure your cooling tower heaters and piping heat traces are functioning to protect them from freezing. Also, heat pumps and condensing units can fail when snow builds up around them and restricts airflow, so be sure to keep them clear of snow & ice buildup.  Make sure your economizer is not calling for outside air. Check that outside dampers function properly as in some instances they may need to be closed manually.
  • Temperatures:  Check your set-back temperatures after hours and determine if hard-to-heat areas need to be adjusted to higher temperatures to protect critical building equipment and systems.
  • Cleanup at Local Business

    12/14/2018 (Permalink)

    Commercial Cleanup at Local Business Cleanup at Local Business

    A business in Alexandria, VA experienced structural damage as a result of a serious workplace accident. SERVPRO has the expertise and equipment to provide remediation for damage resulting from an accident such as this one. In this particular situation, an employee of the business was attempting to retrieve fluorescent light bulbs from there storage location on top of a drop ceiling. The employee lost his footing and caused a panel from the ceiling to fall out and approximately 15 fluorescent light bulbs to fall through and shatter. Luckily there was no one underneath the area and the employee was able to catch himself before falling on top of the resulting broken bulbs.

    SERVPRO was able to HEPA vacuum to ensure no tiny shards of glass created any safety concerns.  We also created a temporary cover for the ceiling. The business owner and office manager were very grateful to be able to use the space again within a matter of hours!

    10 Commercial Building Water Conservation Tips

    12/14/2018 (Permalink)

    Commercial 10 Commercial Building Water Conservation Tips 10 Commercial Building Water Conservation Tips

    As conditions warm – thawing the ground and warming the air – here’s a list of conservation tips from water conservation firm Water Signal to help those who own and manage multifamily structures identify leaks and conserve water by staying proactive throughout the spring and summer.

  • Inspect the building weekly (restrooms, kitchens, water lines, hose bibs, etc.) and make any necessary repairs.
  • Tour the entire property monthly; thoroughly inspecting water lines and meter vaults for leaks. Also be on the lookout for wet spots and/ or cracking pavement, as these are common signs of an underground leak.
  • Inspect cooling towers for valve malfunctions and leaks.
  • Install meters on the make-up and bleed-off lines to aid closer monitoring, in turn, confirming that the system is operating at optimum parameters.
  • Inspect your irrigation system for leaks and improperly set timers, as well as broken or misdirected sprinkler heads.
  • Install rain/freeze sensors on your irrigation system and inspect weekly.
  • Test the building’s water pressure. Excessive pressure increases the chance of leaking and may cause damage to fixtures.
  • Replace high-flow fixtures with low-flow. Consider metered valve, self-closing, infrared and ultrasonic sensor fixtures.
  • Look for products bearing the EPA’s Water Sense label for conservation and performance.
  • Educate tenants, employees, and visitors to conserve water and report leaks.
  • Plumbing Tips for Commercial Properties

    12/14/2018 (Permalink)

    Commercial Plumbing Tips for Commercial Properties Plumbing Tips for Commercial Properties

    Simple Maintenance May be the Responsibility of Tenants

    Commercial property owners who rent space to tenants should be aware that in some cases, the tenant is responsible for well-functioning plumbing. What should tenants do?

  • Drip faucets when temperatures dip down to freezing levels to prevent frozen pipes.
  • Avoid putting harsh chemicals or solids down drains.
  • Immediately report a toilet that won’t flush, or make a repair.
  • Immediately alert property manager regarding substantial drops in water pressure or leaks.
  • It is important to check the pressure gauge once the boiler is operating to ensure it is functioning per the pressure levels recommended by the manufacturer.  When the pressure is lower than recommended, you can top it up – but do so with caution, as the pressure release valve can easily sustain damage.  When this happens, you will need to call a professional for repair.
  • Sufficient space around your boilers is essential as well, so make certain that the area where the boiler is housed is clutter-free.  Your boiler needs to breathe, so remove coats, shoes, bags, and other items.  If housed in a box, be sure ventilation requirements are met according to manufacturer instructions and that there is an access panel to make your boiler easily accessible for maintenance.
  • Never Put Up with Leaking Faucets or Pipes

    Not only do leaking faucets or pipes waste water (in fact, approximately 900 million gallons in the U.S. each year), leaks also contribute to the growth of mold, wood rot, and other structural issues.

    While not all leaks are noticeable, if the water pressure drops you should have a plumbing contractor investigate the situation at once, as it could indicate a leak in the plumbing network. It is not always possible to prevent a leak, however investing in a thorough plumbing inspection once or twice each year is the best way to manage your system and avoid leaks.

    3 Tips for Commercial Property Owners' HVAC Systems

    12/14/2018 (Permalink)

    Commercial 3 Tips for Commercial Property Owners' HVAC Systems 3 Tips for Commercial Property Owners' HVAC Systems

    If you run a commercial property, you probably have HVAC units to maintain. You care about keeping your tenants comfortable and it wouldn’t hurt to cut down on energy costs. Well working HVAC systems not only keep people comfortable but also foster a lower upkeep. With that in mind, here are 3 tips for commercial property owners to make their HVAC systems work for them.

    1. Develop a System

    You should always make sure to schedule regular HVAC maintenance for your residents. That means, at the bare minimum, you should clean air ducts on a regular basis for all of your tenants. In addition, make sure you are consistently getting rid of standing water. Water collecting in drain pans, humidity managing equipment, and cooling towers can harbor harmful bacteria and other microbial horrors if left unattended to.

    2. Constantly Clean and Disinfect

    Especially for managing large amounts of HVAC systems, whether for business property or living spaces, you need to make sure everything’s perfectly clean. Otherwise you’re putting your tenants in danger. Use brushes and other equipment to loosen debris from all components, and extract contaminants with a vacuum or a power washer. This is a great time to inspect any worn or damaged equipment and you can replace as necessary.

    3. Dispose of Contaminants Safely

    If not only for the environment, you should dispose of all contaminants in a safe green way for the heath of all your employees and tenants. After you clean everything thoroughly, make sure to follow the EPA guidelines for disposing of any excess.