Facility Dude

5 Fall Maintenance Musts to Take the Chill Off Winter Costs

By Kate Donnelly
Sep 28, 2015

Facilities Management

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Fall is a prime time for building maintenance. Between day-to-day operations and unexpected emergencies, on-the-ground building managers have their plates full. But savvy facility managers understand that having a fall checklist in place can be crucial to avoiding more serious issues when the hard months of winter hit. Using a maintenance system with built-in capabilities for quarterly reminders and preplanned work orders can greatly improve the likelihood that onsite building staff won't put off these crucial preventative measures—or overlook them altogether. Here are five fall maintenance areas that can help alleviate future problems and add up to big cost savings through increased energy efficiency.

1. Roof

Adequate roof maintenance not only reduces leaks, but also extends the life of your roofing system. During winter months, roofing contractors are in high demand to correct problems from snow and freezing that can rapidly escalate. A fall inspection for damage or deterioration will ensure that problem areas are addressed before the temperature drops. FEMA also recommends creating a Snow Event Response Plan to negate any risk of structural failure after an unusually severe storm.

2. Gutters and downspouts

Clogged gutters can cause water to back up, freeze, thaw, freeze and thaw again, an irritating cycle which can damage the roof, trim, soffits and siding. Directing onsite building staff to do a pre-winter sweep for leaves and other debris will help to ensure that rain and melting snow leaves the building's roof and sheathing before freezing.

3. Fenestration

Addressing air leaks around windows, exterior doors and skylights, collectively known as fenestration, can significantly reduce heating bills. Caulk and weatherstripping ensure that warm air stays inside the building during the winter and seals the exterior building envelope from water penetration and leaks. A study by the National Institute for Standards and Technology showed that air infiltration has significant impact on building heating loads, on average 15 percent of the total heating energy. Proper improvements can mean up to a $2,000 per year savings in a 20,000-square-foot building.

4. Exterior site concrete and asphalt

Water that freezes inside the cracks of exterior concrete and asphalt can cause the pavement to spall and deteriorate, leading to future repair expenses. In addition, water penetration can cause the subgrade to soften, creating settlement and potholes. Yet it's exactly this type of wear and tear that's so easy to overlook without a proper maintenance-tracking platform. Patching cracks and gaps in the fall will reduce high cost repairs needed the following spring.

5. HVAC

Onsite building staff might only turn their attention to thermostats when the HVAC system is on the fritz, but that's a mistake. If your energy-tracking system shows that the building's energy use is climbing, it should trigger a thermostat inspection. If thermostats are not calibrated correctly, the heating system will not run as efficiently as it could, which can ead to unnecessary energy use and utility costs. Taking that one step further, installing programmable thermostats that drop the temperature 10 to 15 degrees when the building is vacant, which could cut your heating costs by an average of 10 percent. Don't overlook the importance of replacing air filters on a regular schedule. Dirty filters restrict airflow and hamper efficiency.

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