By Jim Kendall
This column originally appeared in the October 12, 2015 Daily Herald
The unexpectedly cool start to October should have been a reminder for entrepreneurs who own the building that houses their business (and perhaps others whose rent helps reduce building overhead) that there is seasonal maintenance work to be done.
While Rick Schneider talks of a year-round building maintenance program that generally reduces the need for big expenses to, for example, replace carpets that should have been cleaned more regularly, there are steps every building owner can take before the snow flies to get the office ready for winter weather.
Schneider is owner and president of City Wide Maintenance of Chicago. His Northbrook company is one of 42 franchises of City Wide Maintenance, Lenexa, KS.
Hiring a building maintenance firm rather than doing the work yourself, or with a small janitorial crew, makes the most budget sense for buildings of 10,000-sq. ft. or more, “a size that needs outside maintenance help,” Schneider says. Typically, buildings of that size will house businesses with 30-50 employees, he says.
While businesses like City Wide Maintenance prepare their contracted buildings for winter weather, a look at the work planned can give owners of smaller buildings – maybe one of those downtown suburban houses that now have commercial use or a smaller stand-alone store – an idea of maintenance tasks to perform.
* Wash the windows. Whether you grab a bucket and squeegee or hire a service, cleaning the summer’s dirt off your windows is much easier before the weather turns cold.
* Clean the carpets – before winter salt and slush get tracked into your building. In fact, Schneider says, carpets should be cleaned twice a year: “As soon as the salt disappears from streets, sidewalks and parking lots in the Spring, and again in the Fall.”
Fall is the time to “check for adequate matting (beneath the carpet) to help prevent winter salt from leeching through and damaging the floor underneath,” Schneider says.
This also is the time to put carpet runners at entryways to help capture salt, he adds.
* Look up, to check the lighting. Especially on darker and dreary winter days, adequate lighting is important for safety reasons, particularly in buildings where machinery is part of the surroundings but also in office settings where brighter lights make for a better work atmosphere, Schneider says.
If your ceiling lights are 20 feet high, though, chances are you’re not going to have the equipment, or perhaps the knowhow, to replace burned out lights. You may have an electrician on call for such tasks. If you have off-street parking, have the electrician check those lights, too.
If a building maintenance firm is too much for your budget and small repair jobs aren’t your forte, getting to know a handyman may be a good option. Every building has doors that don’t close properly;, leaky faucets and wobbly toilet seats that need to be fixed.