Maintenance is an essential to ensure that buildings and other built assets present a good appearance and operate at optimum efficiency. Apart from decay and degradation of the building itself, inadequate maintenance can reduce performance, affect heath and threaten the safety of occupants and those in the vicinity.
Depending on its design, quality of materials and workmanship, function and location, buildings deteriorate at different rates and require different levels of attention. No building will ever be maintenance-free, but the quality of the design and workmanship can minimise the level required.
Maintenance can help:
- Prevent the process of decay and degradation.
- Maintain structural stability and safety.
- Prevent unnecessary damage from the weather or from general usage.
- Optimise performance.
- Help inform plans for renovation, refurbishment, retrofitting or new buildings.
- Determine the causes of defects and so help prevent re-occurrence or repetition.
- Ensure continued compliance with statutory requirements.
In order for maintenance to be most effective, it should be organised through a program of cyclical maintenance. At the most basic level this includes daily routines, and works upwards to periodic programs of weekly, monthly, semi-annual, annual, quarterly and so on routines.
At the quarterly point and beyond, architects, engineers and surveyors may become involved to inspect for structural and other serious defects (in particular for historic buildings), and the long-term maintenance plan may be revised and updated.
Types of Maintenance
Maintenance can be classified as:
- Planned maintenance: Carried out on a regular basis, such as servicing boilers.
- Preventive maintenance: Carried out in order to keep something in working order or extend its life, such as replacing cracked roofing tiles before inclement weather.
- Corrective maintenance: This involves repairing something that has broken, such as a window or guttering.
- Front-line maintenance: This involves maintaining something while it is still in use, such as repainting and decorating an occupied building.
Planned and preventative maintenance (PPM) are sometimes grouped together to distinguish them from unplanned maintenance undertaken in response to an incident. PPM may be scheduled on a PPM calendar. Maintenance can also be classified as exterior or interior works.
Common maintenance tasks include:
- Exterior painting and plastering.
- Landscaping and gardening.
- Paving repairs.
- Window and door repairs.
- Debris/rubbish removal and clearance.
- Jet washing with chemical cleaning agents to remove fungal stain or mould.
- Gutter clearance and repair.
- Lighting repairs.
- Re-plastering and plaster repairs.
- Window and door repairs.
- Carpeting and flooring.
- Building services maintenance.
- Removing paintwork: Can be removed by water washing, steam stripping, application of chemical paint removers, abrasive methods, hot air paint stripper, burning-off method (using a blowtorch).
- Repairing cracking or leaning walls.
- Repairing decayed floorboards.
A good preventive maintenance program can preserve assets and keep equipment running optimally with maximum longevity, not to mention, it is more efficient and also cost-effective. However, there are drawbacks to this blanket approach to maintenance. Hence, facility managers often strive to combine the two approaches, reactive and preventive, for a more synergistic line of action to keep things running as efficiently as possible. Studies show that preventive maintenance can save as much as 12 to 18 per cent compared to reactive methods. Designed to prevent breakdowns, the preventive approach treats all things equal. From a preventive point of view, replacing a filter on an air handler is as important as a temperature sensor in a chilled water system. However, in reality, failure of said elements has very different consequences — failure of the latter could be catastrophic in facilities with data centres.