A building is, in many ways, like a body. If its residents are the soul, then certainly the mechanical systems that keep it running are at its heart. And just as one cares for one’s body by eating right and exercising, management must care for those mechanical systems, ensuring they function efficiently and well throughout their life span.
With the proper amount of planning and foresight, caring for large-scale building systems can be a relatively painless process. Knowing the ins-and-outs of these machines—how they work, how to baby them and make them last—can be invaluable in saving money, time and frustration down the road. It’s all about knowing what to expect and preparing for it as best as one can.
Preparation is Everything
The key to preserving systems, such as the boiler or the HVAC system or the outdoor irrigation system, is to care for them from day one. “Maintenance is vitally important,” says engineer Russ Fernandes of Becht Engineering in Liberty Corner. “The typical life expectancies of equipment can be surpassed dramatically if they’re cared for properly.”
Reserve Specialist Michael Callahan of Advanced Reserve Solutions, Inc. in Dover, New Hampshire, agrees. “Putting off maintenance will wear out equipment faster and age the equipment faster,” he says. “Changing the oil, changing filters, greasing parts can all prolong useful life expectancy and could save buildings money over a long period of time. You want to have both a maintenance and a preventative maintenance system.”
Each piece of equipment has a manual with scheduled maintenance suggestions included, says Fernandes. It’s important to adhere to that schedule, whether through a licensed professional who specializes in that specific piece of equipment or through the building’s “super.” Depending on the size of the property and budget considerations, some HOAs may choose to train their maintenance staff to handle that scheduled maintenance rather than calling in an outside contractor each and every time.