Structural Maintenance –
Is your structure summer-ready?
It’s no secret that structural maintenance is a year-round slog – unpredictable weather conditions pose significant challenges, and on-site work often needs to be conducted outside of operational hours. So, with warmer days on the horizon, what should facility and site managers be doing to prepare their structures?
Our MD Berenice Northcott recently shared five key areas that FMs can’t afford to overlook in their summer maintenance programmes with Tomorrow’s FM – check out the full piece below…
1. Preventive maintenance
The saying that ‘you shouldn’t put off until tomorrow what you could do today’ is fitting here – when it comes to structural maintenance, preventing a problem before it arises is always preferable to having to resort to responsive measures. Having a thorough understanding of the condition of your structure is an essential part of this, which is where routine inspections come in.
As summer is the peak season across many sectors – perhaps most notably leisure, tourism and hospitality – implementing a comprehensive programme in advance will help FMs identify which jobs are a priority and which can be safely postponed until quieter months. It’s also a good idea to produce a report outlining the works required to rectify outstanding areas of concern – as well as any issues that are likely to arise – so that repairs can be carefully scheduled in a way that is both time- and cost-effective.
2. Weather damage
Outside of routine annual and biannual inspections, particularly tumultuous weather can take its toll on exposed or neglected structures. And whilst older buildings tend to be more susceptible to storm and wind damage, modern facilities are by no means immune. So, FMs should be looking out for any warning signs of water damage or erosion – especially after all the snow we’ve had this year.
Common examples include pooling water on roofs and a loss of watertightness in glazing seals. And alongside obvious indications of weather damage, such as leaks and damp spots, it’s also important to ensure that drainage systems are functioning properly and guttering is clear. As well as being unsightly, clogged drains or gutters can cause a multitude of issues, including damage to the brackets and even significant problems with foundations.
3. Cleaning & sprucing
Whilst repairs are undeniably the priority where site maintenance is concerned, cleaning and repainting tired-looking structures before summer is in full swing can make a huge difference both visually and functionally.
The scale of such sprucing up must not be underestimated though – a full glazing clean or exterior repaint can take a significant amount of time, and should therefore be factored into your wider maintenance programme rather than being left to the last minute.
4. Specialist structures
Due to their niche nature, the maintenance of specialist structures often tends to be neglected – or approached incorrectly in the absence of the right expertise. And whilst materials such as ETFE pillows and tensile fabric canopies are durable by nature, they do still require professional maintenance. Enlisting the assistance of a dedicated provider to take care of such features is advised, as they vary greatly from standard glazing and roofing constructions.
Typical issues include ETFE pillows filling with water and tensile canopies moving in the wind – both of which can be potentially dangerous if left unchecked. Through carrying out routine inspections, maintenance contractors who are experienced in looking after such structures can identify any problems, and execute the necessary works before they become hazardous.
5. Discreet options
Preventive maintenance – however rigorous – cannot account for every eventuality. An unforeseen incident may arise that makes conducting emergency repairs or cleaning during the peak summer months unavoidable, for example. In such instances, finding a discreet solution that enables the required work to be carried out, whilst minimising site disruption, is crucial.
For maintenance work at height, for example, rope access methods can provide a less disruptive alternative to the erection of vast scaffolding platforms or powered access equipment. Plus, this method is applicable 24/7, enabling critical repairs to be conducted safely and efficiently outside of operational hours.