It’s easy to overlook basic maintenance tasks. Your steel building might look alright for now, but peer a little closer and you’ll notice minor problems creeping up. Steel building owners are like everyone else – they procrastinate until an issue rears its head. With all the time-consuming aspects of life demanding our immediate attention, it’s inviting to say, “I’ll deal with it later.”
This approach undoubtedly leads to compounded problems down the road. A little grime or lack-of-maintenance today can snowball quickly. Ignore your steel building and you’ll likely end up faced with repair issues and larger maintenance dilemmas.
Thankfully, there’s a simple solution to preventing steel building nightmares: learn some basic maintenance tips and integrate them into your regular property maintenance tasks. By adding these maintenance practices into your routine, you’ll prolong the life of your steel building and avoid the headache caused by extensive repairs and replacements – not to mention the associative costs of time and labor.
Simple maintenance tasks save you money. It’s never cheap to replace neglected parts of your steel building or hire specialists to aid in your repairs. Moreover, untended steel buildings represent a possible financial liability. When steel buildings fall into disrepair, owners are unwittingly allowing safety hazards to exist on their property. If your steel building qualifies as part of your business, you are legally responsible for ensuring its safety.
The maintenance of steel building structures is vital to ensuring their functionality. Basic upkeep represents your best line of defense against any possible injury resulting from neglectful steel structure maintenance. Protect your building and minimize your liability by instilling basic maintenance habits into your life.
The Steel Building Advantage
Steel buildings offer a ton of benefits. They provide the cheapest, most durable, largest and most versatile option for available structures. If you own a steel structure, you already know they don’t require a huge amount of upkeep.
Give your steel buildings a little love and they’ll go a long way. If you’re a prospective steel building buyer reading out a list of maintenance tips, you might think it seems pretty demanding. In reality, it’s the opposite. Compared to other material structures, or even a house, steel buildings offer the easiest and least challenging option for creating a structure.
Steel building maintenance often doesn’t require immediate attention, so regular upkeep can go a long way to preventing emergencies. Unless you suspect a critical structural problem, most of these tips can be done when it’s convenient for you. Of course, if you believe your building might collapse or there is serious danger, call a professional.
If you perform the requisite amount of work, your building will last for ages. At MBMI Metal Buildings, we want your steel buildings to stand the test of time.
Tips for Preventative Maintenance
Preventative maintenance refers to performing touch-ups and checks on a building to decrease the likelihood of structural failure. The regular inspection of a building and correction of any apparent problems will prevent these issues from getting worse. By performing the following duties, you practice preventative maintenance.
1. Begin at the Beginning
When you first get a steel building, there are a couple of maintenance tasks it’s important to perform. First, remove any object still touching the exterior. After assembly, some tools, ladders or roof panels might be left laying around. Simply put everything away. You never want unnecessary weight to strain the building or obscure its surface.
After the drill holes get bored in the roof, some metal shavings remain on the roof. Sweep these off with a soft bristled broom. These shavings have a raw surface area and can lead to rust on the roof.
2. Trim the Hedges
Don’t allow any undue contact with your metal building. Left alone, large bushes or hedges will grow and push against your building wall. This prevents air from passing and encourages water to remain touching the building. This leads to mold and other unwanted fungal spreading.
Hedges also risk undermining the structure. Pressure exerted on the side of the building stresses the foundation and the positioning of the walls. Keep hedges at least half a foot away from your steel structure perimeter.
3. Remove Snow
Snow left on your roof exerts incredible stress on your structure. Check your building’s maximum allowable snow roof amount. If you believe your roof is reaching that threshold, act effectively to plan for snow removal.
After a first snowfall, it’s hard to determine if you’re in danger of crossing the allowable level. Consider the density of the snow, the amount of snow and what interval each snowfall has occurred. Avoid compounded snowfalls in which snow melts and then is covered by fresh powder, or, worse, rain. Snow soaks up rain and prevents normal draining. Fresh precipitation drastically adds to the aggregate weight.
When removing snow, employ extreme caution. Know your surroundings, wear the proper shoes and memorize the locations of skylights or translucent roof panels. Ensure you do not step on these or any other unstable parts of the roof.
To begin, look around. Ensure the roof hasn’t buckled. All the panels and frames should appear normal. Don’t proceed if you believe the snow undermined any areas of the roof.
Shovel the snow off the roof beginning from the end-walls working your way to the center. Along the eaves, knock the snow off, past the gutter. If your structure has a gabled roof, ask an assistant to remove the snow on the opposite side to even out the pressure on your roof.
Proceed to follow your pattern until you’ve decreased the amount of snow. Never bring your shovel into contact with the roof. Feel where the snow sits a few inches above the roof and never go lower. If your shovel scrapes the roof, you might damage it. Fissures or cracks result from aggressive shoveling and can lead to water leakage.
4. Check the Insulation
For insulated buildings, ensure no exposure, damage or evidence of moisture exists. Fissures in your walls happen for a number of reasons. Birds or other animals dig holes in your building while building nests. Be aware of any nesting or pest presence to stop holes before they happen. Along with pests, holes lead to unwanted outside air presence.
Any insulation maintaining contact with the air risks water contamination. Moisture prevents insulation from improperly protecting your building. This results in greater energy required to heat and cool the building. Increased electrical needs lead to ballooning utility bills.
Another negative aspect of wet insulation concerns damage. As trapped moisture lingers within your walls, the risk of mold and rust increases. Include pest, damage, insulation exposure, rust and mold in your examination. If found, add these issues to your pending maintenance repairs. Don’t let a problem like insulation exposure remain – you don’t want to replace an entire wall.
5. Wash the Building, Inside and Out
This represents a baseline maintenance task. Take care of your steel panels, and they’ll last a long time. Steel buildings benefit from solid materials that seldom require replacing. The best way to extend the lifeline of your building involves regular washing.
Dirt and grime accumulate on the structure as a matter of course. If left unattended, this filth will tarnish the surface of your building and possibly lead to mold or rust. Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to spot and remove trouble spots.
Give your building a wash every now and then. If the surface looks good, leave it alone. The trick involves frequent checking. If you see any residue, discoloration or other signs of dirt, break out your cleaning solution and go to work.
Many industrial cleaners exist for washing buildings, but other options exist. One home-made cleaning solution recipe is one cup of ammonia to five gallons of water. Thoroughly mix the ingredient, then apply the mixture to your building with any available applicator. Larger spray washers work great, but a trusty larger sponge-mop also gets the job done. After applying and scrubbing, rinse the building with a power washer on a low setting or garden hose with condenser extension.
Perform this task every couple of months. When washing the inside walls, wear a proper air mask to prevent the ammonia in the water from irritating your lungs. Don’t let the solution touch anything other than the surface you’re cleaning. Incorporate a thorough floor cleaning while you wash your walls or develop a rotation – one month the walls and the next the floors.
6. Check Gutters and Drains
In the war against water, gutters and drains represent your front line. If they become clogged, then water overflows and leads to rust and mold. You never want water to stick around. Anything it touches, it will slowly destroy.
Keep your gutters and drains clear of sticks, dirt, leaves or other detritus. Incorporate drain and gutter checks into your routine. If you find anything preventing their normal function, remove the blockage. Extract large clogs manually with rubber gloves and then flush the drain with a power washer. This removes all the smaller elements remaining. Your gutter and drain should drain normally after this procedure.
7. Oil Door Hinges
Check that your doors open and close naturally. Make sure the hinges are well-oiled and that no damage has occurred along the edge. The seal along the door frame should not leak or show signs of mold. If such signs appear, attempt to clean and disinfect the mold. Otherwise, replace the sealing.
The same principle applies to your windows. Ensure they maintain an optimally firm seal. If your steel building requires weather stripping on windows, ensure the sealing hasn’t deteriorated. Just like doors, lubricate their mechanism and check that nothing impedes their closure.
8. Inspect Garage Doors
If your steel buildings have roll-up style garage doors, add these to your list of tasks. Malfunctioning garage doors risk letting water into your building. Don’t let our aquatic enemy gain a foothold in your building. Always ensure the seal at the bottom of your door meets the floor perfectly.
If you’re forced to construct your building at the bottom of a hill, put a heavy duty drain at that side. Otherwise, water will flood under your garage door, even if the seal remains firm. The water will also pool against the side of the building. Consult with your steel building provider to arrange for the best drain and garage door weather stripping seal.
Other garage door aspects to inspect include: the rollers, cables, auto-reverse safety, tracks and overall garage door cleanliness. All these features contribute to protecting your metal building from the elements. If any one of these parts malfunctions, you risk exposing the interior of your structure to water.
9. Touch Up Painting
If you notice a scratch or other minor abrasion during your routine examination, it’s time for a retouch. It’s vital to ensure that no aspect of the metal substrate ever gets to breathe. Moisture exposure leads to rust and mold. Keep a reserve of matching primer and paint for covering any scratch. Once located, it’s a simple matter of applying a layer of primer followed by paint to the spot and leaving it to dry.
Always check to confirm you have the correct paint. Paint comes in a range of environmental exposure thresholds. Make sure your paint level matches your needs. For the primer, check that it will react with your paint to form a perfect sealant bond. Never hesitate to ask your building provider about which primer and paint to use. Paint offers your best protection against moisture and the elements.
Do Regular Maintenance
Several factors pertain to how often you should perform checks. We’ll discuss how your geography affects the required frequency of checks, but, in general, do a total, methodical, investigation at least twice a year.
You’re likely in constant contact with your building. Always take a look around and don’t put off performing repairs or maintenance tasks as required. Rust and mold never take a holiday and neither should your vigilance.
1. Consider Location
Where you live determines the level of building maintenance required. The seasons affect each region differently. In general, pay extra attention to your building before and after winter or after a storm. Areas prone to heavy snowfall also need additional maintenance.
If you live in a moisture-rich environment, perform checks more often. Coastal, humid or polluted areas affect steel buildings more dramatically than drier, rural regions. Air-borne pollutants corrode metal. If your building is in a heavily-industrialized area, consider the effects of pollution.
2. Record Your Examinations
Once you’ve decided how often to perform your checks, create a log book. Start by making a list of all the checks you wish to perform. Next, make a schedule for when and who will perform the examination. When performing the check, simply go down the list checking all the boxes. If something doesn’t pass inspection, record its presence and make a note for how best to enact the repair, touch up or maintenance task.
A simple sign off sheet ensures either you or someone else maintains responsibility for performing the investigations. A spreadsheet format works great.
Preventative Maintenance Keeps Cost Low
As we discussed, the technique of preventative maintenance yields the greatest return. You reduce your year-to-year costs by performing checks and addressing an issue immediately. Problems don’t go away on their own. It never pays to ignore them or put off investing the proper time and money to fix them.
Keep Perfecting Your Knowledge
Let these metal building maintenance tips offer you a guideline for your own custom routine. We at MBMI Metal Buildings know you’ll hone your techniques. It only takes practice to conduct preventative maintenance and master the technique.
Never be afraid to ask questions. We’re always available to answer your questions regarding metal building maintenance. We maintain a close relationship with our customers and promise to deliver an excellent product that provides optimal service for our customers for many years. We offer a variety of options for every possible purpose. Our resilient structures successfully bear the brunt of all types of extreme weather. Hurricanes, earthquakes and blizzards are no match for a well-built MBMI metal building.
Feel free to contact us for details on our range of buildings.