The Importance of Preventative Maintenance in Your High-Rise

Posted on Tuesday June 06, 2017



You love your high-rise lifestyle. It’s convenient, offers great amenities and, often, gorgeous views. So it’s important to take care of your high-rise building. Protecting your high-rise with a solid preventative maintenance program will also protect the lifestyle you love and your community association’s budget.

“The most important thing that people don’t understand about preventative maintenance is that it keeps everything running more efficiently, predictably and, overall, economically,” Marc Glassman, director of facilities & maintenance for FirstService Residential, said.

Preventative maintenance programs have countless benefits, including extending the life of almost every component and system in your building. A well-executed plan can also help your community optimize its operating budget by predicting when repairs or replacements are most likely to be needed and allowing your community to set aside money for them.

The most important benefit is reducing service interruptions due to emergency failures. Out-of-service elevators or a lack of air conditioning in July are never fun to deal with! Avoiding problems through preventative care will lessen those issues and keep your residents happy.

How can you get started on a preventative maintenance plan? Check out our advice below to get your high-rise on the right track when it comes to preventative maintenance.
 
1. Understand why it matters. 
Glassman said that in high-rises, seemingly small problems can quickly affect large parts of the community, especially when water is involved. “In a high-rise, water is the enemy,” he explained. “I know of one building that had six floors of residents displaced because one resident turned his heat off in the winter instead of just turning it down. While he was at work, a sprinkler head in his unit froze and broke off and flooded the unit. An outside contractor replaced the heating unit improperly that definitely contributed to the problem. Water is going to go wherever it can, and in this case down several floors. At that point, a water mitigation company has to come in and remove flooring and drywall – anything that can hold the water and grow mold.” 

Glassman also explained how the life of equipment can be extended. “Water treatment is one of the most important part of any system that uses water: boilers, cooling towers, heat pumps. You can spend $200,000 on a new cooling tower and, without water treatment to fight scale, corrosion and biological buildup, it might need to be replaced in five or six years when it should last 20 to 30 years. Anything growing in your cooling towers or boilers can reduce heat transfer and require more energy to run. You also need to make sure that all of those systems are professionally tested and treated for Legionella bacteria, which is common and causes Legionnaire’s disease. It’s spread through the air but starts in water, and it’s easy to prevent.”

In both of these scenarios, the health and well-being of your entire community can be affected by the failure of a single system. That includes the health of your operating budget and reserve fund.

2. Bring in professional help. 
It’s a big job, creating and executing a preventative maintenance program for a complex high-rise building. But you don’t have to go it alone! Enlist the help of experienced professionals with the knowledge and expertise. A quality community association management company can be your first line of defense. It will have access to engineers and in-house maintenance staff, as well as third-party service technicians and vendors who are experts on specific systems. A professional community association manager will have the ability to execute your plan, making sure that schedules are adhered to and manufacturer’s instructions are followed.

If your high-rise is self-managed, find a licensed mechanical engineer to evaluate your equipment and maintenance needs.

3. Remember the upsides. 
What can a comprehensive preventative maintenance program do for your high-rise building? Check out these benefits:

  • Ensure that your property values remain high
  • Minimize risk for your association
  • Allow you to identify and anticipate repair and replacement costs all year long
  • Help forecast when major costs need to be factored into your annual budget
  • Maintain a happy community
  • Keep your community running without inconvenient, surprise disruptions
All of these issues can greatly impact your association’s operating budget and quality of life for your residents.

4. Stick to an easy-to-follow schedule. 
While it’s a daunting task, the end results of creating a preventative maintenance plan are worth the investment of time and energy. Eventually, everyone involved become invested in making sure your high-rise is maintained to the highest standards. It makes everyone’s life easier and saves money, while enhancing property values. It also creates a smoothly-run environment in which happy residents thrive.
 
The foundation of a good preventative maintenance plan is simple: sweat the small stuff. As Philadelphia favorite son Benjamin Franklin said, “A stitch in time saves nine.”
Inspect your entire property and document all of the building’s systems, public spaces, private spaces and structural surfaces. Photograph everything. Create a complete list of components to be inspected and maintained, including those photos. Develop a preventative maintenance schedule that’s separated into at least four categories: monthly, quarterly, semi-annually and annually.
 
Once you have a complete list of all the equipment and systems within your high-rise property, you and your team need to do your homework in order to establish a maintenance schedule. Work with the system manufacturers to identify suggested maintenance schedules for equipment to run at maximum efficiency. Then, put your plan into action. By executing your preventative maintenance plan, you’ll be resting easier knowing you are one step ahead of those fearsome surprise maintenance fiascos.
 
Your entire high-rise community, from the board to your building’s maintenance staff to the residents, will reap the numerous benefits of your preventative maintenance planning. For more information on how to put a preventative maintenance plan in place in your high-rise community, contact FirstService Residential, North America's leading property management company.

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