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Preventive maintenance for condosCold weather will soon be upon us, so now is the time to make sure your condominium maintenance program is on track. As brutal as Ontario winters can be, you certainly don’t want to discover a leak in your roof during a heavy snowfall or have a boiler stop working during a record cold spell.  
Unfortunately, these crisis situations occur all too frequently because many corporations neglect to develop an integrated maintenance plan. Instead, they favour a reactive approach to maintenance – waiting until something breaks or fails before repairing or replacing it. “It’s not unusual to see more than half of a corporation’s maintenance handled reactively,” says Bob Meyer, director of engineering services at FirstService Residential. “However, a reactive approach should only be reserved for lower-cost components.”  
Meyer says that lack of money is a common reason for condominiums to defer maintenance until major work is needed. “Ironically, reactive maintenance is actually about three to nine times more expensive in the long run than a proactive approach,” he explains. “So it’s really much more cost-effective to be proactive even if that means investing a bit of time and money up front. Ultimately, it will relieve a lot of headaches for your board and save money for your condominium.”  
Having an integrated plan is the key to proactively addressing your property’s maintenance needs. Here we describe what you need to do to have an effective plan so your board will have more control over your property’s maintenance activities.   

1. Collect all your maintenance-related information 

Preventive maintenance scheduleFor most condominiums, maintenance information is scattered among a variety of documents. The first step is to locate and consolidate it, including: 

  • Your condominium’s maintenance policy, which may be found in your governing documents 

  • Maintenance schedules 

  • Expected costs and timeframes for replacing equipment or making major repairs to components, which will be outlined in your reserve fund study 

  • Maintenance recommendations in component manuals 

  • Maintenance requirements to keep warranties valid 

2. Establish which common elements require ongoing maintenance 

Make a list of the equipment and components that need to be included in your maintenance plan. Start by looking at your governing documents, reserve study and vendor/maintenance contracts. It’s also helpful to walk the property to visually document building systems, public spaces, private spaces, and all services. Once the list is created, be sure to review and update on a regular basis.   

3. Identify specific maintenance activities 

A good reserve fund study will specify the types of preventative maintenance needed to ensure that a component or piece of equipment will reach its estimated useful life. However, be aware that any repairs or replacements that have been made more recently may not be included in your study. You may need to refer to owner manuals or warranties to find this information.   

4. Create a master maintenance schedule 

Your reserve fund study will also indicate the schedule you should follow for each item it contains. If the maintenance schedule for a particular item is missing from the reserve fund study, check your warranties or owner manuals, or ask the manufacturer or contractor to provide it. 

5. If you have an onsite maintenance manager, take daily readings and make weekly inspections 

Preventive maintenance inspectionsWalking the property and taking daily readings gives your maintenance manager an in-depth familiarity with equipment. Therefore, they are likely to notice subtle changes – smells, sounds, vibrations or temperature changes – that someone else might overlook if they’re not familiar with the equipment. If you don't have someone on-site that handles maintenance, regular maintenance checks on all equipment should be performed by a professional. Your property management partner can help you find a reputable vendor to provide that service. 
Knowing the different testing techniques will be integral to gathering the data you need. These include: 

  • Vibration analysis, which measures the vibration of moving parts in machines. Monitoring these vibrations, and how they change can help anticipate failures 

  • Thermal imaging, which does not require equipment shutdown 

  • Large shaft alignment, technology that will keep pumps, motor shafts and impellers from damaging and misalignments to occur 

  • Trends analysis, which recognizes potential areas of fault in equipment 

  • Oil sampling and analysis, which identifies area of wear, along with the lubricating ability of equipment oil 

6. Enlist the help of experienced professionals 

A proactive condominium management company can offer a wealth of information and be able to help create your integrated maintenance plan. Your property management company brings years of experience in managing property maintenance. So, while creating a preventive maintenance plan from scratch can seem like a challenge to your board, it’s second nature for your property manager and they can guide you through the process. 
Also find out how your property management company can assist you in finding the qualified professionals to help with your maintenance. Vendors that would understand the unique needs of condo corporations like yours. 
Making the right vendor decisions is an important role for the board of directors and property manager. Check out our list of things to remember when selecting a vendor. 

Preventive maintenance is a winning solution 

The initial work that needs to be put into creating a preventive maintenance plan for your condo corporation may seem like a lot. However, once that plan and schedule is in place you won’t have to worry when temperatures fluctuate. As long as the schedule is followed, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’ve done your best to prepare your property. For more information on how your condo board can create an effective preventive maintenance plan, contact FirstService Residential Ontario

Monday November 13, 2023