Your commercial building is a significant asset. Proper maintenance protects property values and helps mitigate emergency service costs as your building ages.
Routine inspections protect your property and impact the health and safety of employees and visitors. Performing regular inspections makes it easy to spot and correct potential trip hazards or other situations that could cause accidents to occur.
Inspection schedules vary depending upon the type of equipment. We’ll provide a basic checklist for inspection timing at the end of the post but recommend that you research specific standards for your building use and equipment. It is also essential to confirm your business’s OSHA standards and applicable local ordinances.
Preventive maintenance does more than protect your property and help prevent larger, more expensive repairs from surprising you. Maintaining and updating your building can create a better employee and customer experience. Well-kept facilities are visually appealing and show that the business cares about the experience provided for everyone who enters.
It’s easy to get accustomed to a place we enter regularly and miss things that we might notice when we drive up to a business the first time. When performing a property walk, it might be beneficial to step back for a minute and walk up from the parking lot entrance. Take the time to visually assess the first impression you get and continue the walk with that mindset.
Think about what you look at when you go to a hotel, restaurant, or doctor’s office. If the parking lot is dirty and the landscaping disheveled, what impression does that provide? When you enter a doctor’s office waiting room that is unkept and musty, do you want to be a patient there? These same principles apply to all commercial structures. Patrons enjoy a pleasant atmosphere and will gravitate to businesses that provide that.
The exterior of a building is the first impression people get when approaching your building, and more importantly, it’s the structure that protects everything inside your building. Performing regular maintenance outside of your building can help prevent ceiling damage or water intrusion.
There are several areas of focus to consider when walking the exterior, from landscaping to parking areas to walls. Utilizing your specific checklist will help make sure all the bases are covered.
Some of the most critical areas are paved areas, exterior lighting, and railings from a safety perspective. Potholes in parking areas or raised areas in sidewalks are trip hazards that should quickly be repaired. Proper lighting around your building and parking area helps provide safety and security. Railings can get rusty or loose over time, creating a potential for injury—regular inspection and maintenance benefits not only the appearance of railings but also the safety.
The outer walls and roof are the protectors of the interior, making their care especially important.
Regular inspection of exterior walls can help find minor damage that can lead to costly repairs if not addressed at the earlier stages. Look for cracks in walls or peeling paint and check to ensure no water or pest intrusion. At the same time, be sure to check the outer seals on windows and doors and repair them as needed.
Debris piled up in gutters can cause roof leaks and damage interior ceilings or walls. Most roofing professionals recommend having your roof inspected twice a year, usually just before summer and before winter. This is also an excellent time to schedule gutter, drain, and downspout cleaning.
Landscaping inspection schedules vary depending on the requirements set by the building owner or manager. It is beneficial to conduct a weekly exterior walk and look for landscaping areas that may need extra care. If the property has trees, an annual inspection and pruning of dead or dying branches prevent property damage and keep trees healthy.
Wear and tear inevitably occur inside buildings, particularly commercial spaces with several people moving around and using the facilities. Regularly performed inspections and maintenance minimize the effects of use and assist with keeping your property in stellar condition.
As with the exterior, the surfaces walked on are especially important safety-wise. Weekly walks to ensure areas are clean and in good condition helps keep minor issues from becoming major issues. This is especially important in more extensive facilities with more inhabitants or high foot traffic.
A clean building is more inviting to everyone who enters the facility. Daily inspections assist with keeping the facility clean and ensure that break areas and restrooms are stocked with paper products and soap and that trash cans aren’t overflowing.
When walking the building, check for flooring wear and tear that can quickly become a trip hazard and make the facility run down. Pay extra attention to stairs and promptly fix any potential risks. At the same time, double-check that all railings are solid and tighten any loose areas. To help extend flooring lifespan, consider using fixed walk-off flooring or scheduling a deep cleaning a few times a year or more frequently, depending on foot traffic.
Look at walls and ceilings, looking for cracks or damage that should be addressed quickly. This is a great time to pay attention to light switches, plate covers, and light fixtures. Any loose covers or fixtures should be tightened or replaced as needed. Pay attention to lights that seem dim or take longer to light up, and make a note to check bulbs, wiring, and transformers as needed.
Fire safety systems, elevators, and escalators often have local or state ordinances and OSHA requirements. For more information on fire protection, check OSHA standards and local requirements for your business type. Fire extinguishers should be reviewed annually by a state-licensed technician. It is good to have emergency lighting tested every six months and repaired or replaced as needed.
Exterior and interior plumbing should be inspected regularly to spot small leaks before they become expensive water damage issues. Look at all visible pipes and watch for drips or puddles of water. You may want to consider a leak detection system if checking for leaks is impractical for your business. Note any slow draining sinks or easily clogged toilets as these can indicate hidden issues with pipes you can’t see. Consider implementing a quarterly drain cleaning to keep drain issues to a minimum.
Run irrigation system tests to check water spray areas and adjust as needed. When sprinklers repeatedly hit an outside wall, they usually cause damage, leading to water intrusion and potentially creating mold or mildew situations and rotted framing. Broken sprinkler heads can cause expensive water bills, flooding, washouts, and damage to vegetation. Frequently scanning the property when irrigation is running lessens the chance of expensive plant or dirt replacement from sprinkler malfunctions.
The HVAC system is one of the costliest systems to replace and vital to building inhabitants’ comfort and health. One of the most important things you can do to keep your HVAC system in good working order is to replace air filters monthly and check that system drains are working correctly. Scheduling quarterly preventive maintenance helps keep the system in better condition for longer and is a worthwhile investment.
Both the exterior and interior of any building benefit from routine pest control. Check with local pest control services to determine the best schedule for your facility type.
Preventive building maintenance may seem daunting, but it’s easily simplified by creating a thorough checklist and setting a routine for walking the property. We’ve provided a basic checklist template that can be customized to the specifics of your facility and grounds. When creating your checklist, verify if manufacturer warranties require inspections to be performed and at what intervals.