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The Basics of Building Maintenance

Whether you are a new property manager, aspire to become a Chief Operations Officer, or simply enjoy cross training in new areas of business, you may be interested in learning the basics of maintaining and inspecting an office building. Although many areas of building maintenance should be handled by certified professionals, we believe every business leader should have a general idea of the upkeep checklist of a commercial building. Here are the primary elements which maintenance staff should regularly inspect and manage:

Basic health and safety standards

Although OSHA provides a list of thousands of laws and best practices your office should follow to ensure a healthy workplace, most employees do not need to become familiar with all of them. However, there are some obvious areas you should check whenever you walk around or through your building.

  • Clear pathways — Does equipment, furniture, boxes, or clutter block the walkways in and around your building? Are there any other tripping hazards, such as uneven surfaces which are not properly marked?
  • Adequate lighting — Are all areas in and around the building well lit, or will employees experience eye strain by the end of the day due to dim lighting? If employees leave during a rainstorm or after the sun has started setting, are there enough lights available in the parking area?
  • Air quality — Are air filters changed when needed? Are any hazardous materials stored safely so employees will not breathe in fumes?
  • Structural gaps and cracks — Does the parking lot have any potholes which need to be filled? Are there any noticeable gaps or cracks along the roof, walls, or parking garage structure which need to be filled?

Roof maintenance

One of the most vulnerable parts of any building is the roof, as this is the part which protects everything inside from rain damage, tornados, hail, and other hazardous storms and materials. This is why property managers should always ensure their roofs are clean, free of debris, and clear of any unnecessary weight and foot traffic. Maintenance professionals should have a protected pathway to walk upon as they complete their work. If you have any questions or reasons for concern about the integrity of your roof, we suggest you call a licensed professional to provide guidance.

Equipment and system checks

Some workplaces will have more equipment than others; for example, manufacturing plants will contain a greater quantity and diversity of equipment than a regular office building. However, most buildings contain standard equipment, such as HVAC units, refrigerators, elevators, and water heaters. Your property or operations manager should keep an organized file for each piece, containing the purchase receipt, user manual, warranty information, invoices and warranty information from repairs and maintenance performed by third parties, and other relevant data. All equipment should be inspected by the schedule advised in the user manual, and your company’s budget should account for funds needed to purchase any equipment which may soon become outdated.

Although some routine and preventative maintenance should be performed by a certified professional, there are some tasks which can easily be taken care of by regular company staff to save on the costs of hiring an outside contractor. For example, Popular Mechanics published an article listing some easy fixes for common refrigerator issues. On the other hand, any suspected issues in your HVAC unit, electrical work, or plumbing infrastructure should be left to a licensed professional for safety reasons.

Emergency response plans

Every workplace needs to have emergency response plans in case of a fire, poisonous gas leak, armed or violent person, or other threatening situation. These plans should, at the very least, include exit maps which are accessible to all employees, one or more fire extinguishers, and contact information for the building’s owners and proper authorities. Some plans may need to include a lockdown strategy or place of shelter in case of a threatening individual or tornado. Here are some questions to ask when evaluating your emergency plans:

  • Is a fire extinguisher accessible no matter where the fire would be located?
  • Are the fire extinguishers expired?
  • Are the locks of the indoor shelter secure and functional?
  • Is a first aid kit readily available in the shelter area?
  • Do the elevators have working phones?
  • Is my office building at risk of a chemical spill?

If your building does not yet have an emergency response plan, we recommend this workplace readiness guide from the Department of Homeland Security.

Physical appearance

Although the physical appearance of your building may not seem as urgent or important to maintain as areas such as your roof or HVAC system, it can provide information at a glance about how well your building is kept clean and safe for employees and clients. As you walk up to and through your building, ask the following questions:

  • Do the walls show any dark spots, which could indicate harmful bacteria or mold growth?
  • Do the glass panels, windows, and doors look transparent, or are they covered in a layer of dirt or streaks of chemicals?
  • Are the signs inside and outside the building clean and easy to read, or do they show signs of dust, bacteria, or mold?
  • Are hard floors, such as those made with wood and tile, clean? Were natural substances used to clean them, or did the cleaning staff use cleaning supplies which include toxic chemicals?
  • Have the carpeted areas been deep cleaned in the past three months, or have they only been vacuumed?

We believe every part of building maintenance should be performed by dedicated, trained professionals who uphold the highest standards in their industry. That is why the team at Innovative Window Cleaning only cleans glass—we stay in our professional lane. If you feel your office’s windows, doors, and other glass panels could be cleaned with natural substances and better quality standards, we would love to provide a free on site estimation service for you. Please give us a call at 888-535-1440 or send us a message for more information.

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