A Five-Step Plan for Reducing Your Backlog

Overdue maintenance backlogs are one of the most serious problems we face at MaintenX. Oftentimes, business owners and property managers don’t know what needs to be done or don’t see maintenance requests as a top priority until they become emergent. This results in a backlog that is difficult to pare down, and frequent emergency repairs due to a lack of preventative care on significant appliances.

There is no better example of this than our National Parks System. In 2020, the Great American Outdoors Act was passed, allocating $6.5 billion solely to addressing the maintenance backlog across 400 national parks. While this provided much-needed help to national parks across the country, it only covered half of the estimated costs of needed maintenance in the parks, and provided no funding to smaller state parks also in need of maintenance funds.

This excessive maintenance backlog leads to safety hazards for both park staff and visitors and makes it difficult for these public parks to continue providing educational and recreational opportunities for visitors to enjoy the great outdoors. The same can happen to businesses that ignore their maintenance backlog, as their equipment becomes unusable for staff and reduces the ability for the business to provide great service.

At MaintenX, we understand the demands of running your business and how difficult maintenance planning can be. With these five steps, we can help you effectively reduce your backlog and get on a maintenance schedule that is effective, affordable, and meets your facility’s changing demands.

The Five-Step Plan to Reduce Your Maintenance Backlog

  • Sort current backlog to eliminate outdated and duplicate orders – If your maintenance backlog hasn’t been addressed in months, there are likely work orders that have either been addressed without proper documentation, or duplicate orders due to recurring issues. Before you can begin addressing your backlog, take some time to clean up and organize it.  
  • Prioritize current backlog – Once your work order backlog is organized, prioritize requests based on urgency and impact on your facility operations. This will make it easier to allocate resources based on needs and budget.
  • Assess risks and resources – Once you are ready to assign tasks to your maintenance team, be sure to incorporate a risk assessment to ensure your most experienced technicians take on the most complex work. Safety hazards, as well as financial risks and potential for emergency repairs, should be considered, as well as the available hours your maintenance team has to work on particular tasks.
  • Re-evaluate your work-order system – Once your team begins working on the backlog, you should take time to restructure your work-order management system to ensure that a new backlog doesn’t accumulate.
  • Put a PM plan into action – Finally, once you have your backlog reduced and your work order system in place, begin adding new maintenance requests focused on preventative care. This will prevent future emergency services and ensure your backlog is a productive tool rather than a burden on your facility.

MaintenX can help you reduce your backlog and stay on top of maintenance with our preventative care programs suited to your facility. If you’d like to learn more about our preventative maintenance can help your facility run more smoothly, contact our offices today!

Five Preventative Maintenance Services for Your Backup Generator

Backup generators are necessary for most businesses in Florida. In addition to facilities where they are required, such as hospitals and nursing facilities, they are also common for retail and other commercial applications due to our prevalent hurricane seasons. With any luck, you won’t need to use your backup generator over the summer. However, it is important to keep up with preventative maintenance to ensure if you do need it, your backup generator is ready.

Below are the five services your technician will perform during regular preventative maintenance tune-ups for your generator:

  • General inspection – Prior to any maintenance service, your technician will perform a general inspection to look for mechanical issues in the exhaust, fuel, air intake, and other systems. Because backup generators are not typically in use, mechanical defects may develop over time without anyone noticing. An annual inspection and frequent tune-ups are therefore necessary to ensure that when you need your generator, it is in tip-top shape.
  • Lubrication – Just like any motor, lubrication is essential to ensure proper running. Because backup generators stay dormant for most of their service life, lubrication is essential to ensure the parts do not rust or stiffen over time. Your preventative maintenance will most likely include an oil change and lubrication of essential parts.
  • Check coolant level – Just like your HVAC system, your generator needs to be inspected to ensure it has proper coolant levels. During your inspections, your technician may top off the coolant and check the radiator for mechanical problems.
  • Check air intake and fuel service – The air intake and fuel systems can develop condensation over time, and need to be drained as well as checked for mechanical errors on a regular basis.
  • Electrical safety check – Your generator’s electrical system should be tested often and fully inspected annually to detect shorts, issues with the battery, and other potential issues. Electrical issues can not only leave you stranded in the event of an outage but can be just as dangerous as electrical problems within the facility itself.

Hurricane season isn’t over yet, which means it’s time to schedule your annual generator checkup if you haven’t already. To find out when and how to set up generator maintenance soon, contact your local MaintenX office.

What To Do After A Facility Fire: How To Help Your Business Recover

Building fires are a business owner’s worst fear realized. They are a terrible disaster that causes harm to your employees, patrons, and to the business you’ve worked so hard to build. While insurance can help you receive financial losses, there are intangible losses that even the best policies can’t cover.

While a building fire can be catastrophic, it doesn’t have to be the end of your flourishing business. Below are the best strategies to implement immediately after a fire to help your business have a speedy recovery:

Turn off utilities. 

Until the building can be professionally inspected, it’s best to play it safe and turn off all utilities including electric, gas, and water. Fires can cause serious mechanical and electrical damage to a facility which poses risks for further damage. By removing these hazards completely, you can be sure your fire damage stays at a minimum.

Collect as much documentation as possible. 

Once the building has been cleared, try to recover as many documents as possible, including insurance policies, inventory records, business licenses, and employee documents. You will also want to organize documentation in relation to the fire, including police reports and insurance updates to ensure you can contact the right people for help.

Invest in security. 

A vacant building can be a target for theft and vandalism if not properly attended. You can invest in private security as well as request an increased police presence after the fire. Many police departments will be happy to check on your block in the weeks after the fire to prevent unwanted intruders. However, private security including cameras or temporary fencing can also help you protect your building.

Move to a temporary location.

Even with an insurance payout, your business will be struggling financially after a fire. If possible, look for temporary locations for your facility if you are able to open quickly. Some business types such as food service and smaller retail locations may be able to open mobile units or rent out smaller facilities to keep the cash flow going while repairs are being made. Continuing online services and sales can also help you weather the storm until your storefront is repaired.

MaintenX is here to help after a fire with emergency maintenance services, repairs, and new installation for all commercial applications. If you have questions or need urgent help, contact us today.

Tips for Painting Brick

Exposed brick has become increasingly popular in restaurants, retail stores, and other boutique storefronts across the U.S. The rustic style can create the perfect ambiance for small businesses, but only if it is done properly. If the exposed brick is not properly cleaned and painted, it will simply look old and neglected rather than rustic and charming.

Painting brick can be a difficult task as it is porous and uneven. A simple paint roller won’t get into every crevice. While you can carefully go over every spot with a small paintbrush, there are easier ways to paint your brick that will save time and money.

If you want your brick to look professionally painted, follow these steps for success:

Clean and prime before painting. 

Exposed brick is the perfect place for dust to collect inside a commercial building. Prior to painting, be sure to scrub the brick with a gentle cleanser and wait to dry fully before priming. You may also want to strip old paint off the brick if there is any on it. Then, apply a latex primer to the entirety of the brick wall and let dry completely.

Choose the right paint. 

Latex paint or paint made for masonry is best for brick, as it will soak into the crevices more easily. Talk to the sales staff at your local home improvement store to ensure you have the right paint for this application. You can also use a brick stain if your brick is in good condition but you want to add a protective barrier or change the color slightly without covering the brick completely.

Use a paint sprayer.

The best method for painting brick is to use a paint sprayer, as this will coat the surface evenly and get into cracks and crevices without hassle. If possible, purchase a paint sprayer at your local home improvement store. If you can’t find a sprayer, be sure to use a roller made for textured surfaces to minimize the touchups needed.

MaintenX offers professional painting services for businesses across the U.S. If you want to revamp your storefront and improve the look of your brick, contact us for a hassle-free painting service!

How Prepared Does Your Business Need To Be For Storms?

In Tampa, Florida, where MaintenX is headquartered, we are accustomed to the annual hurricane season that threatens our coastlines from June until November. While most businesses believe they are prepared for evacuation, they often miss critical steps that lead to damages that could have been prevented. Whether you live in a hurricane, snowstorm, fire, or earthquake-prone area, there are certain steps every business should take to prepare for disaster.

Five Steps to Disaster Preparedness

  • Update your evacuation protocol – If a storm becomes serious, you should have a plan in place to communicate closures to employees ahead of time. You should also provide the appropriate resources for evacuation including travel expenses or hazard pay and accommodations for employees that must stay (in places like medical facilities).
  • Stock up on essentials – If your facility must remain open during the storm or immediately after, make sure you are stocked with food, a backup generator, batteries, and other essential goods for those that will be present during or immediately after the storm. These items can also be used by the community after the storm has passed and people are in need of essential items.
  • Remove hazards from your outdoor facilities – Any merchandise or asset that is stored outdoors but not firmly secured to the ground should be moved away from the facility to prevent damage due to wind or flooding. This can include outdoor displays, trash cans, signs, vehicles, or other items that could be easily moved by wind or water.
  • Prepare your building as a shelter – If your building is a suitable storm shelter, make sure you have supplies on hand for rapid preparation. Boards to close up windows, emergency food stores, and sleeping cots should be available on short notice if your building is a designated storm shelter.
  • Renovate if necessary – Modern buildings are designed to withstand severe weather, but older buildings are not always up to modern codes. Storm-proof windows, roofing, and outdoor HVAC units are a must to ensure your building is still in working order during and after the storm.

MaintenX specializes in disaster preparedness and emergency maintenance service after storms. If your commercial building is at risk this season for storm damage, talk to us about more ways to prepare specific to your facility.

Electrical Requirements for ADA Compliance

ADA compliance is an essential component of commercial building design. Even for businesses that are not required to follow ADA regulations, it is wise to factor in accessibility to ensure everyone who visits your business has a positive experience. While most business owners know that entrances and exits need to be ADA compliant, there are many other elements of your building design that also fall under these regulations.

Your electrical system is one such design element that has specific ADA requirements for any building that is intended for public use. Electrical components that are required to be accessible include:

  • Light switches
  • Electrical outlets
  • Thermostats
  • Environmental controls operated on a frequent basis

These components are required to be installed in an accessible location, meaning they are positioned at a height that does not require one to reach up or down in order to use one. They should also be placed in areas without obstructions either on the floor or near the walls. An example of a non-ADA compliant installation would be an outlet that is placed on the floor (not reachable from a forward direction) or one that is installed on a wall obstructed by a wide countertop).

Some of these controls are not covered under ADA requirements. For example, if a comparable control is installed in an accessible location, then a control in an inaccessible location is allowed. You can see this in outlet and light switch placement, where multiple controls may be installed to provide access for all.

Other controls that are not required to be ADA compliant include:

  • Circuit breakers
  • Outlets dedicated to individual appliances
  • Appliance controls (such as knobs on an oven, as these are part of appliance design)

Understanding these compliance issues can help you create a better business for all. If you are redesigning your electrical system, talk to MaintenX about accessibility standards and ways to make your electrical system better for your business overall. We offer preventative care and affordable installations to businesses across the U.S.

ADA Compliance for your Plumbing and Restrooms

ADA compliance is not only required for most business types, but ensures you create a welcoming space for everyone who walks through your doors. ADA compliance covers not only entrances and exits, but a great deal of your bathroom design and the subsequent plumbing installations required to fulfill them.

Below are the general guidelines you must follow for ADA compliant bathrooms, as well as the considerations you’ll need to make for your plumbing installation and maintenance:

Bathroom dimensions for ADA compliance

Bathrooms must be large enough for a wheelchair to complete a 180 degree turn easily within the accessible stall and the common space. This is generally considered 60+ inches.

ADA compliant toilets

An accessible toilet stall must meet a certain height and stall capacity size to ensure a wheelchair can fit and that the toilet is easily used. ADA compliance requires:

  • Each appliance must have a minimum width of 60 inches and enough space around to accommodate a wheelchair.
  • Seat height must be between 17 and 19 inches above the floor.
  • Flush controls must be placed no higher than 44 inches above the ground and placed on the open side of the toilet
  • Grab bars must be placed behind the toilet and on the nearest wall or partition
  • Toilet paper dispensers must be between seven and nine inches in front of the water closet.
  • Dispensers should allow for continuous paper flow rather than control flow.

ADA compliant sinks and mirrors

In addition to stall requirements, The ADA requires certain sink, soap dispenser, and mirror heights and design elements to ensure accessibility:

  • Sink or counter height must not exceed 34 inches above the floor.
  • If hand soap and/or towel dispensers are available, they must be between 15 and 48 inches above the ground and not be obstructed by other design elements.
  • Hand dryers must either be motion-activated or touch-free devices and not protrude more than four inches from where they are installed.
  • Mirrors should be installed 40 inches maximum above the ground if located near a sink or countertop; stand-alone mirrors should be installed 35 inches maximum above the floor.

ADA compliant drinking fountains 

While drinking fountains are not required for most businesses, they can be integral to public buildings, schools, playgrounds, and recreational facilities. If your facility has drinking fountains, they must be between 38 and 43 inches above the ground, and provide a stream of water that is between four and five inches from the spout. This is to ensure that a cup can be used under the stream.

To meet these standards, you must ensure that your plumbing system is set up to meet height and space requirements and provide the correct water pressure for water fountains. If you are upgrading your facility to meet ADA compliance, talk to your MaintenX team to learn more!

Stucco vs. Vinyl Siding – Which is Best for Your Business?

Small businesses typically have two types of siding for their building – stucco and vinyl. Stucco is an aggregate substance applied smoothly to exterior walls to create a visually appealing and durable exterior, while vinyl is installed in boards to achieve the same purpose. While vinyl siding is more common in residential building because of its affordability, there are some commercial applications in which vinyl is preferable.

Below we’ll discuss the various factors to consider when choosing vinyl vs. stucco for your commercial building. If you have further questions, ask your MaintenX contractor to determine which is best for your particular project:

Durability

Both vinyl and stucco siding is considered highly durable for exterior applications. Stucco is considered somewhat more impact-resistant; however, insulated vinyl is just as strong against weather and wind as most stucco applications.

Longevity

While both materials are durable, stucco is considered to have a much longer service life. Because it is directly applied, it can withstand for decades with minimal maintenance required. Vinyl siding, on the other hand, does best when replaced after 40 to 60 years as it will fade and deteriorate slowly.

Appearance

Most commercial buildings use stucco because of its clean, smooth appearance Vinyl siding is more common for residential use, and can therefore make your commercial building look more like a home if used. While this may be suitable for small commercial buildings or those that have been renovated from residential buildings, it can be a downside if you’re going for a certain look.

Cost

Stucco is significantly more expensive than vinyl, not only in material cost but in the extra hours it takes to install. While the upfront costs are significantly more with a stucco installation, it’s also important to factor in your ROI for stucco vs. vinyl. Stucco will last longer, which means your dollar will stretch further if you’re planning to own the property for many years. Stucco can also add to resale value for commercial properties as opposed to other siding options.

MaintenX offers stucco installation and exterior maintenance services to ensure your building looks and functions exceptionally regardless of weather or time. To learn more about your installation options, contact your local MaintenX team today!

What is Underpinning In Commercial Construction?

The foundation is the single most important part of any architectural structure. The foundation provides stability to everything else and is the single-most difficult and expensive component to repair or any building. In many cases, if the foundation is damaged, the building will be torn down or abandoned. However, for high-value commercial real estate, there is an option to fix the foundation without completely renovating the building.

Underpinning is the process of repairing and reinforcing a foundation that is damaged or sinking. In areas like California where earthquakes occur frequently, underpinning is a common solution to reinforcing a foundation that is beginning to sink. It can also be used to expand the foundation to more evenly support a large structure.

While underpinning is a complex process, it can save your commercial building investment as well as the businesses that rely on the building for their livelihoods.

Types of Underpinning

There are four primary types of underpinning used to reinforce foundations, and each is used depending on the size and structure of the building, as well as the severity of the repair. The four types are as follows:

  • Pit
  • Mass pouring
  • Beam and base
  • Pile

Your construction team will determine which type of underpinning is required for your project. They will go through a lengthy inspection process to determine the severity of the damage. In some cases, underpinning may not even be necessary. However, if your construction team recommends it, you shouldn’t skip this step before moving on to other renovations.

When is Underpinning Necessary?

Underpinning is typically used of the soil structure underneath the house changes, such as during an earthquake or flood when the soil is disrupted or washed away. It can also happen during major plumbing repairs or if a nearby tree falls and uproots underneath the structure.

Underpinning isn’t necessary if the foundation is simply worn or has superficial cracks, but if the foundation is no longer steady on the ground, it is typically required for the building to be considered safe.

MaintenX works with construction subcontractors to offer underpinning as well as other foundational repairs and exterior maintenance services to businesses across the U.S. If your building has recently been through a major change and needs emergency repairs, contact us today to learn about your options.

How To Keep Your Grass Green in The Summertime

In Florida, where MaintenX is headquartered, many of our clients struggle to keep grass green in the hottest summer months. This can also be true for those throughout the Southern United States, where high temperatures and sporadic rainfall can make grass either dry out or drown rather than thrive. It can be difficult even at home, let alone at your business where you don’t have the time to put in the yard work on your own.

While it’s best to hire a landscaping company to manage the grass for your facility, if you are a small business there are many ways you can improve the look of your grass without a professional. Below are just a few ways we help our clients keep a green lawn all year long:

Let it grow out.

One of the biggest mistakes property owners make is cutting the grass too short when they mow it. While it may look nice and clean-cut immediately after mowing, you’re likely tearing the grass out at its root in many areas. This will lead to patches of dead grass across the lawn in a few days. If you raise your mower blades by just a few inches you can help maintain healthier grass.

Install a sprinkler system.

In Florida, we experience sporadic downpours followed by days of intense heat and humidity in the summertime. If you want to avoid the drowning/dry-out cycle for your grass, install a sprinkler system to ensure your grass is watered every day. We recommend opting for a manual one to ensure you’re not overwatering on rainy days.

Water in the morning.

If you water our grass in the morning, the water is less likely to evaporate in the heat and can sink down into the soil where it needs to be. The earlier you can water, the better. In areas of intense summer heat, we recommend as early as sunrise to ensure the water soaks in and can provide for your grass all day.

Aerate the grass.

As people walk over your grass and the elements solidify the soil, it becomes more difficult for oxygen to penetrate the ground and reach the roots. Aeration is the process of loosening up the soil so that oxygen can reach the roots and provide a healthier environment for your plants. Aeration every few weeks or months can help maintain a healthy environment and doesn’t take any special equipment other than a garden rake.

MaintenX can help you with landscaping and exterior maintenance services throughout the summer. If you’re interested in what we have to offer in your area, contact your local MaintenX team today!