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The Cost of Building Neglect

Commercial building maintenance is an ongoing task. It may seem like a chore, but problems do not go away on their own. In fact, these issues will most likely worsen over time. Regular building maintenance and inspections enhance the performance of mechanical systems, minimize downtime, and reduce costs.

From an appearance standpoint, building neglect does not make a good first impression. These issues may make the facilities look unkempt, rundown, or even unsafe. Neglecting problems with any building’s systems can lead to safety issues for tenants, employees, and customers. It is paramount to maintain a safe environment not only inside of the building but also in and around outside areas including walkways, steps, and in parking lots. Maintaining these areas can prevent accidents from occurring on the property.

Failure to address the maintenance issues of a building in a timely manner may lead to more expensive fixes in the long run. Regular maintenance takes care of small problems before they become more serious issues. Keeping building systems in good working order will protect the building owner’s investment.

Listed below are some areas of commercial buildings which should be inspected and maintained regularly.

Mechanical equipment

HVAC system – Thorough inspections can uncover equipment issues: safe mechanical and electrical operation, degradation of wearable items, and overall condition. Filters should be changed regularly, coils cleaned annually, and electrical components and wiring inspected often. Ductwork should be checked for air leaks, as any sort of air leak could waste energy and allow contaminants to circulate indoors.

Electrical system – Lighting, servers, computers, and security systems are powered by the building’s electrical system. Older buildings may require power distribution systems to ensure that there is enough power available to operate modern equipment and critical systems. Backup generators might also be a component of the electrical system.

PlumbingPlumbing systems in commercial buildings are subject to heavy use, making them more prone to break down. Clogged drains, damaged pipes, and water leaks can mean costly repairs if not dealt with promptly. Leaks can cause structural damage and promote mold growth.


Seasonal temperature variations can cause deterioration of roofing materials over time. Roof drains that are clogged with leaves and debris can lead to costly leaks. An inspector should identify ponding, cracks, blisters, holes in the substrate, and uplifted nails and shingles. Gutters, downspouts, and flashing should also be inspected.


Elevators are complex systems. A lack of routine maintenance and failure to identify wear and tear on parts will lead to breakdowns. Routine service is needed on motors, generators, brakes, and safety control features. Commercial elevator inspections are performed by certified inspectors. OSHA requires elevators to be inspected annually.

Storm drains

Routine maintenance on storm drains and catch basins will prevent stormwater backup and flooding damage to a property. Sewer lift station maintenance should include an annual cleaning. A buildup of debris and sediment can compromise the system.

There are real costs and consequences associated with building neglect. Inadequate maintenance of machinery and systems will result in equipment breakdowns or a situation in which building systems are not fully being optimized. Identifying potential problems early on will give facilities staff time to find the most cost effective and efficient way to deal with these issues.

About Andrea LaMont

Website: http://www.mckenneys.com/
Email Address: andrea.lamont@mckenneys.com
Andrea LaMont began at McKenney's in 2010 as the Marketing Director. Andrea has an MBA from the University of Georgia and a MS in Marketing from Georgia State University.
Tags: Building Services, HVAC, Mechanical, Plumbing

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