Why You Need a Preventative Maintenance Program

Five key areas to help start your maintenance plan.

By Scott Matthews, Director, Strategic Accounts, The Home Depot

Matthews_Scott_800x600A thorough preventative maintenance plan is essential to efficient property management. While some problems are easy to spot, others are difficult to detect until they become major issues, so it’s important to identify them before repairs are needed.

For instance, it costs an average of about $200 to fix a plumbing leak in multi-unit properties, according to RedBeacon. If the leak is left unchecked however, it can lead to water damage and mold, which may cost thousands of dollars to repair.

Expensive repairs can’t always be foreseen, but can usually be prevented or minimized with a well thought-out maintenance plan. When creating the plan, consider systems and areas around the property where maintenance is most needed. Next, build in a process and schedule that decreases risk for each of those areas.

Here are five key areas to help start your maintenance plan:

  1. HVAC and water heaters: Two of the most costly repairs are HVAC systems and water heaters. Avoid the expense by having the units checked at least once a year to confirm that they are running smoothly and efficiently. Also consider scheduling a visual inspection during the spring and winter to detect any unexpected issues that may arise as the seasons change.
  2. Air filters: Mildew growth and decreased airflow can result from air filters that aren’t regularly changed. Avoid depending on residents to change their own filters or notify you of problems by building a staggered schedule that will allow maintenance staff to change filters throughout the property at a realistic pace.
  3. Fire safety: A faulty fire alarm is the cause of two thirds of home fire fatalities, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Ensure all units are safe by checking the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors during the annual inspection. Make sure the units are equipped with a working fire extinguisher as well. Consider swapping alarms with products that have lithium-ion batteries that last for 10 years, such as the Kidde Worry Free Smoke Alarm, which can decrease maintenance costs since the batteries don’t need to be changed as often. There are also smart fire protection products that are Wi-Fi enabled, so the resident and/or your leasing staff can be alerted on their smartphone if there are fire threats.
  4. Water damage threats: There are a few indoor and outdoor threats that must be updated regularly to avoid water damage. Schedule maintenance services to check water heaters, washing machines and sinks frequently since these areas are most common for indoor leaks. On the exterior, ensure that gutters and landscaping irrigation drains properly. You should also inspect door and window seals for openings and the property roofs for signs of water damage.
  5. Energy-efficient lighting: Imagine if the whole property was converted to LED bulbs that can last for more than 20 years. Decrease your maintenance staff’s time by swapping out other lightbulbs to LEDs, which can lead to long-term savings. Not only do they use approximately 84 percent less energy, but LED technology has been integrated into a variety of bulbs and fixtures both indoors and out.

It’s important to be proactive and have a maintenance plan in place, even if things appear to be in order. A well thought-out preventative maintenance plan can help prevent unexpected, costly repairs and ensure that resources are being used efficiently.

Scott Matthews is responsible for managing national accounts and e-commerce while overseeing business-to-business relationships. During his 25 years at The Home Depot, he has served in a variety of roles and capacities, including regional pro sales manager, district manager and store manager.