Preventive Building Maintenance for Managers

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PART I--Creating an Effective PM Program

Section 1--What is PM?

  • So, What is PM?
  • Preventive maintenance defined
  • Why Do PM?
  • Reason 1: PM extends equipment life
  • Reason 2: PM reduces costs
  • Reason 3: PM saves energy
  • Reason 4: PM improves the experience of your occupants
  • Reason 5: PM makes your job easier
  • Predictive Maintenance (PdM)
  • Thermal imaging
  • Group re-lamping
  • Infant mortality and the bathtub chart
  • Other types of maintenance
  • Corrective maintenance
  • Deferred maintenance
  • Run to failure
  • Emergency maintenance
  • Call-back maintenance
  • PM planning begins with design

Section 2--Economics of Preventive Maintenance

  • The Jones-Lang-LaSalle Report
  • Selling PM to Management
  • PM as a Budgeting Tool
  • The Long Range Facilities Plan
  • The Repair or Replacement Decision
  • The Useful Life of Building Systems
  • Estimating PM Costs

Section 3--Getting to Work--Setting Up a PM Program

  • Too Busy for Preventive Maintenance
  • Not Enough Maintenance Staff
  • Can't Afford to Hire Skilled Staff for Specialized Tasks
  • Don't Need to PM Something That's Already Past Its
  • Useful Service Life
  • Starting To Do Preventive Maintenance
  • Step 1-Determining Your Organization's Goals
  • Step 2-Inventory Capital Equipment and Decide What to PM
  • Equipment Data Sheets
  • Unique Identifier
  • Commonly used equipment identifiers
  • Step 3-Scope and Frequency
  • Deciding what PM tasks to do and how often to do them
  • Scope-or how will you PM each piece of equipment?
  • Frequency--or how often will you do PM to each piece of equipment?
  • PM schedules based on hours of operation
  • Choosing a CMMS .
  • Do I really need a CMMS?
  • Step 4-Making a PM Calendar
  • Scheduling by the week vs. by the day
  • Other things on my PM Calendar
  • Getting your Hands Dirty
  • The first few month of actually doing PM
  • Getting Support from Upper Management
  • Document, Document, Document
  • As a reference
  • As a CYA
  • As a CYCoA
  • Regulatory compliance

Section 4--People that Do PM

  • Managing People
  • Getting Staff to Buy into Your Program
  • That Attitude of Continual Improvement
  • Training and Direction
  • Where to get staff trained
  • An HVAC example
  • Investing in Tools
  • Trust but Verify
  • Outsourcing PM
  • Final Thoughts

PART II--Technical Information for Preventive Maintenance Success

Section 5--Lubrication Theory

  • Tribology
  • Reynold's Theory
  • Reynold's Theory Equation
  • Choosing a Lubricant
  • Viscosity
  • Problems with choosing the wrong viscosity
  • Types of Lubricants
  • Mineral oils
  • Synthetic oils
  • Solid lubricants
  • Greases
  • The Useful Life of Oil and Grease
  • How Often Do We Need to Grease Bearings?
  • Types of Bearings
  • Plain or sleeve bearings
  • Rolling element bearings

Section 6--Maintaining Commercial Roofs

  • The Four Common Types of Commercial Roofs
  • Built-up roofing (BUR)
  • Modified bitumen roofing (MBR)
  • EPDM and thermoplastics
  • Standing seam metal roofing
  • Roof Insulation
  • Common types of roof insulation
  • Fasteners, Flashing, and Roof Penetrations
  • Fasteners
  • Flashing
  • Roof Warranties
  • Preventive Maintenance of the Roof
  • Built-up Roofing (BUR) & Modified Bitumen Roofing (MBR) and Single Ply (EPDM) PM Inspection Checklist
  • Flashing, fasteners, penetrations PM inspection checklist
  • Standing seam metal roofing PM inspection checklist
  • All roofing types PM inspection checklist

Section 7--HVAC Systems

  • Refrigeration Machinery
  • Heat Pumps
  • Preventive Maintenance of Air Conditioning and
  • Refrigeration Equipment
  • Preventive maintenance of condensing units-compressors
  • Preventive maintenance of condensing units
  • The condenser coil
  • Preventive maintenance of air handlers-the evaporator coil
  • Preventive maintenance of air handlers-air filters
  • Preventive maintenance of air handlers--condensate equipment
  • Preventive maintenance of air handlers-blowers
  • Preventive maintenance of air handlers-heating and other equipment
  • Cooling Towers and Cooling Loops
  • Preventive maintenance of cooling towers and cooling loops
  • Chillers
  • Automated Controls
  • HVAC PM Checklist

Section 8--Belt Drives

  • The 3 Types of Drive Belts
  • Drive Belt Lengths
  • What If I Don't Have an Old Belt to Measure?
  • Other Drive Belt Characteristics
  • Proper Operation
  • Problems with Belt Drives
  • Inspecting Belt Drives

Section 9--Indoor Air Quality

  • The 3 Parts of IAQ Problems (The 3 P's)
  • Pollutants-the first P
  • The most common IAQ pollutants
  • Pathways-the second P
  • People-the third P
  • Comfort Issues
  • Solving IAQ Problems
  • Pollutants-solving problems
  • Pathways-solving problems
  • People-solving problems
  • The 8 common pollutant solutions
  • The "M" Word
  • Difficult IAQ Problems-Sick Building Syndrome
  • Collecting Data
  • Seeking Professional Assistance
  • Effective Communication
  • PM Tasks That Affect IAQ

Section 10--Paint and Protective Coatings

  • Types of Paint
  • Oil-based paint
  • Latex paint
  • Elastomeric wall coatings
  • Epoxy paints
  • Urethane paints
  • Rust inhibitive paints
  • Mildew resistant paints
  • Cold galvanizing compounds
  • Primers and Sealers
  • Water and oil-based primers
  • Shellac primers
  • Rust-inhibitive primers
  • Bonding primers
  • The Right Paint or Primer for the Job
  • Preparing the Surface
  • Note about lead paint:
  • Six steps to proper surface preparation
  • Rust converters
  • Environmental Concerns
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Lead paint
  • Paint disposal
  • Paint Failures
  • Application temperature
  • Common modes of paint failure
  • Inspecting and Recoating

Part III--Specific Maintenance Procedures and Requirements

Section 11--Specific Maintenance Procedures and Requirements

  • List 1: PM Tasks Listed by Frequency
  • List 2: PM Tasks required by building codes or regulatory agencies
  • List 3: Equipment Specific Procedures, Requirements, and Technical Details for PM
  • Informational Symbols

Other Stuff...

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Preventive Building Maintenance for Managers is written for the building manager wanting to improve the condition of their properties while reducing costs and making the work of the facilities department more manageable. This guide will provide the tools necessary to create and implement an effective preventive maintenance program in your facility.

Preventive maintenance (PM) has been a familiar principal within industry and manufacturing for several decades. Comprehensive preventive maintenance programs have only recently become a common part of the maintenance program within facilities. Today, a large percentage of facilities still have no PM program in place or have PM programs which include little more than semi-regular changing of air conditioning filters. Each year, more and more well managed facilities recognize the benefits of a comprehensive program of PM and understand how significantly a well designed PM program can affect every aspect of a company's operations.

A well designed and well implemented PM program will extend the life of equipment by reducing replacement costs, preventing most break downs that effect building occupants, maintaining the energy efficiency of equipment, improving the effectiveness of the maintenance department, and improving the overall condition of a building and the experience of its occupants.

My first experience with preventive maintenance was nearly 30 years ago working for a apartment complex that did not have a preventive maintenance program. I spent long hours and late nights running from emergency to emergency. After reading an article in a trade publication about the benefits of PM, I created a simple PM program and was amazed how this changed my daily work routine. After only a couple of months of diligently following my simple schedules, emergencies almost stopped, guest complaints were suddenly gone, and I was working with less stress and getting more sleep. Since that early experience, I have created and refined many successful PM programs at facilities in several industries.

Most of the few books available on the subject of the preventive maintenance of buildings are written by professionals who have extensive experience with PM as viewed from the office or spreadsheet. I wrote this guide because I believe I offer the unique perspective of someone who has actually spent a career doing and supervising the daily activities of the maintenance department.

Two years ago, as a requirement toward earning certification as an Educational Facilities Manager, I took a course on preventive maintenance through the state university. The textbook was disappointingly basic and not especially helpful in the real world of facilities maintenance. I had considered someday writing a guide about PM and it was this class which convinced me I had something to offer and swayed me to put pen to paper.

It is my hope that this guide will serve the building manager in creating an effective preventive maintenance program that works well in this challenging field of facilities management. I hope the facilities manager who entered the field from academia will gain perspective into the nuts and bolts world of the maintenance department where PM is performed.

I also hope those managers who rose through the ranks from the maintenance department will gain a stronger understanding of the engineering fundamentals behind the PM tasks they perform.

But mostly I hope that, by reading this guide, your buildings will last longer, your work load will become more manageable, emergencies will become fewer, maintenance costs will decrease, department morale will increase, and you will enjoy your work more and get more sleep at night.


Guide to Preventive Building Maintenance for Managers has been written in three parts. The first part discusses components of an effective PM pro gram and gives the reader the necessary tools to create one in their own facility. The second part explains the science and engineering principals behind many of the most common and important PM tasks such as lubrication theory, HVAC system maintenance, how PM impacts indoor air quality, and the selection and application of paints and architectural coatings. The third section is a comprehensive reference section including over 100 different types of equipment commonly found in facilities including theories of operation, maintenance requirements, and government codes or regulations that apply to the maintenance of each equipment type.

Part 1--Creating an Effective PM Program

The first section of this guide ( Sections 1 through 4) defines preventive maintenance and explains why and how to set up a PM program.

Some of the many advantages preventive maintenance brings to facilities are discussed. Other types of maintenance such as corrective maintenance, deferred maintenance, and emergencies are all reduced when an effective PM program is being followed.

Also included in part 1 is the return on investment (ROI) of a good PM program and why investing in PM is often one of the most lucrative investments a company can make. A dollar saved through PM is as good as a dollar earned through any other business activity and few business activities can come close to the ROI possible through PM. The reader will also learn how PM can be used as a budgeting tool, how to accurately make repair verses replace decisions for equipment and how to estimate PM costs.

Developing a successful PM system from goal setting and equipment inventory through determining the exact procedures to follow for each piece of equipment is explained. Setting up an intelligent PM schedule or calendar, and gaining the support and necessary start up financing from upper management is also included.

This section also addresses the selection and management of the people who will be performing the actual hands on work of PM. Included are managing staff and getting staff to support a new PM program, effective training options, and outsourcing all or part of your PM program.

Part 2--Technical Information for Preventive Maintenance Success

The second part of Manager's Guide to the Preventive Maintenance of Buildings is written to help the facilities manager with a technician back ground to become familiar with the most important science and engineering principles governing the PM tasks we do. This section is also intended to serve as a training reference for line staff performing hands on PM work.

The six Sections included in part two of this guide address the science of lubrication theory, commercial roofing maintenance procedures, maintaining HVAC systems, belt drives, indoor air quality, and a Section on protecting buildings using paint and architectural coatings. These six technical areas offer the most impact for a PM program and are trade areas loaded with misinformation and inaccurate on-the-job folklore. The purpose of part two is to dispel the myths and provide useful information to make your PM program more effective.

Part 3--Specific Maintenance Procedures and Requirements

The final section of this guide is found in Section 11. This Section serves as a desk reference of preventive maintenance tasks and procedures for nearly a hundred different types of equipment. Maintenance tasks, engineering principles, operating principles, and the details of applicable codes or regulations are included for each piece of equipment.

Part I--Creating an Effective PM Program


"Preventive maintenance is a scheduled program of regular inspections, adjustments, lubrication, or replacement of worn or failing parts in order to maintain an asset's function, and efficiency."

Part one of Manager's Guide to Preventive Building Maintenance discusses why and how to set up an effective preventive maintenance pro gram for any facility.

Section 1: What is PM

PM includes all the tasks we perform to keep our buildings in good condition. Oiling or greasing bearings, changing filters, painting, and other tasks are the nuts and bolts work of a good PM program. The incidents of breakdowns and the need for other types of maintenance such as corrective maintenance or emergency maintenance is reduced when a successful PM program is in place.

Preventive maintenance extends equipment live, reduces break downs, saves money, improves the experience of building user, and makes the work of the maintenance department more manageable. When the maintenance department starts a program of preventive maintenance, its focus shifts from one of fire fighting to one of planned and predictable maintenance tasks.

Section 2: The Economics of PM

Business decisions are made according to the anticipated return on investment (ROI). preventive maintenance offers average returns of 500% or more and is one of the most lucrative investment opportunities a business can undertake. Specific maintenance tasks can have ROIs of over 2000%. A dollar saved through PM is as good as a dollar earned from any other business activity.

Section 3: Setting Up a PM System

Determining an organizations goals, making a thorough equipment inventory, setting up a PM schedule or calendar, and developing a system of record keeping are the basic parts of creating a PM program. To create a good PM program, it is necessary to know the specific maintenance requirements for each type of equipment included in the program. Some organizations work well with a paper system of schedules and record keeping. Larger organizations may prefer to keep schedules and maintenance records in a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).

Section 4: The People that do PM

The most important aspect of your PM program is your maintenance staff. Your maintenance staff's skills, training, and most importantly, attitude, can make or break a good PM program. To be successful, your staff will need training, tools, and knowledge. Starting a PM program is difficult because it means additional work that needs to be completed until the program is given a chance to work and breakdowns and emergency repairs decrease. Eventually, a PM program will make the work of the maintenance department easier and more manageable. In the short term, there will be some growing pains.

Also see: PM Checklist

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