Facility Dude

5 Red Flags That a Hospital’s Exterior Needs Attention

By Kate Donnelly
Oct 21, 2015

Healthcare, Facilities Management

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5 Red Flags That a Hospital's Exterior Needs Attention A building's envelope is crucial for keeping water and pollutants out, keeping heated or cooled air in and maintaining the building's structural integrity. Though a sealed envelope is important for all facilities, it's especially vital to a hospital or healthcare facility, where the interior structure needs to remain clean and uncompromised.

That's why savvy facility managers would be wise to train on-the-ground staff to do routine walkabouts to look for these tell tale signs that the building's envelope needs immediate attention. Ignoring them for too long can lead to envelope failure, which can require costly repairs and even the closure of certain sections of the hospital.

Many healthcare facilities are plagued by hectic and demanding occupant interactions and employees that are often overworked or experiencing high turnover. In these environments, it's all too easy to let inspections fall by the wayside. Using maintenance software that creates automated workflow can help ensure these types of visual inspections actually take place.

Eye on: out-of-place bricks

Misaligned masonry, such as a brick sticking out from the vertical plane of a facility, should be an immediate red flag to a maintenance crew. When bricks become loose, they pose a safety hazard to all occupants and nearby pedestrians. And left unattended, that misaligned masonry can expose the building's interior to the elements. Likewise, when crew spots a bit of brick or marble on the ground, they shouldn't stop with sweeping up and discarding the fallen building materials. The incident should be reported and tracked, perhaps with the help of maintenance software, to help spot any dangerous trends in the integrity of the hospital's masonry.

Eye on: efflorescence

This white, crystalline substance is actually mineral deposits that are left on the building's exterior after groundwater seeps up the masonry and evaporates. Though it's common in buildings that are located seaside, in other buildings it can be a sign that the ventilation system is in need of repair or the water barrier along a facility's foundation has degraded.

Eye on: split caulking

When the caulking around doorways or ventilation systems begins to crack and split, it can allow condensation to penetrate the facility's envelope and corrode structural elements inside. Yet one of the most common mistakes that maintenance crews make in healthcare settings is caulking in areas where this type of sealant doesn't belong, according to Healthcare Facilities Magazine. So if a ground crew spots split caulking, the incident should be reported and tracked so that fresh caulk can be applied – if it's appropriate and necessary.

Eye on: crumbling mortar

Tuckpointing, or cleaning out and applying fresh mortar between a building's bricks, is necessary periodically to maintain the facility's structural integrity. Yet without routine visual inspections to spot this subtle sign of erosion, it's possible to allow an undue amount of time to elapse without the proper maintenance. Using a maintenance software makes it easier not only to know when tuckpointing might need to occur again but to keep all of the details in one place, so that the building crew knows exactly the type of replacement mortar that was used last time. Using the wrong type of replacement mortar can cause cracking or spalling, which weakens the envelope.

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