Preventative maintenance: What’s the point?
On most days, it’s easy for housing provider staff to go into ‘goal-tender’ mode – responding to problems as they come up, with not enough time to get to other important concerns. Thinking ahead can seem like a luxury, but good preventative maintenance saves time and money – two things we could all use a bit more of. Besides these benefits, a preventative approach can help site staff feel more in control of their schedule, and assure tenants that their housing is in good hands.
Don’t know where to start? Here are a few key tips:
Start with the low hanging fruit: Begin by making the small changes that will have the biggest impact. Carla Chong, Housing Coordinator, and Tony Mandarino, Operations Manager, from Muriel Collins Co-op suggest starting with a plan to vacuum the bathroom exhaust fans, lubricate lock cylinders, or clean exhaust grills from kitchen hood fans on a more frequent basis.
Develop a plan, and build on it over time
Create a maintenance schedule, then add the ‘what’, ‘when’, and ‘who’ for specific preventative maintenance tasks. This can help you keep track of what you’ve accomplished over time. Start at a manageable level, and commit to adding a specific number of items each year.
Don’t overlook the big stuff
Your building’s major systems (ventilation, water, heating, electrical) can be easy to forget, since they are often out of sight. Here are some commonly overlooked inspections to consider for your plan:
- Air / ventilation systems: Keeping these systems in good condition helps maximize energy efficiency and prevents moisture damage. With proper safety and shut-down training, site staff can perform basic maintenance like replacing filters, and cleaning and removing dust from air grills and ducts. Professional inspection, cleaning, and servicing should be done once a year.
- Hot water tanks / pressure vessels: These should be internally inspected once a year, including testing the pressure relief valve, and externally inspected once every three years. Hot water tanks typically last about 15 years, but a properly maintained one can last for 60 years or more.
- Electrical panels and junction boxes: These should be inspected at least once every three years, including a thermal scan. Regular inspections of your building’s electrical system should be part of your ongoing preventative maintenance plan.
Get the most out of your contracts
Do you use an outside supplier for maintenance and inspections? Review your contracts and verify whether inspections are being performed as often as promised, so you can make sure you’re getting the full value – and preventative benefits – from your contracts.
Account for your savings
Pay attention to how much you are saving – both in time and dollars – as you complete your preventative maintenance work. In some cases, you can see the impact right away, while others save you more in the long-run, with bigger savings as time goes on.
For example, since you started doing regular inspections, have you noticed that you are replacing burnt out exhaust fans less often? Are you seeing less work orders for lock repairs? Estimate the dollars and minutes you’re saving to remind yourself why it makes sense to prevent rather than react.