By Sherri Hall
Maintenance is an essential part of keeping a community association running smoothly. While some projects are considered part of a community’s regular maintenance, others are more preventative in nature. So, which maintenance projects are considered preventative?
According to Chip Hoever, Vice President of Operations at Matrix Property Management in North Brunswick, New Jersey, regular maintenance is done for items that fail from time to time and need to be repaired right away, while preventative maintenance is done in order to prevent problems from occurring in the future.
Hoever explained that preventative maintenance is an important measure for an association to take to avoid certain issues from happening down the road — similar to performing vehicle maintenance which is done to prevent the vehicle from breaking down. “Preventative maintenance is more important than regular maintenance because it keeps you from having to do regular maintenance,” he said. “And you really need to plan for it and budget for it.”
“A good example of deferred maintenance is painting,” said Hoever. “Another is sealcoating driveways and parking lots. The oil-based products you put on the driveways and parking lots penetrate the asphalt and help keep it from decaying and drying out.”
Hoever likened the sealcoating treatment to that of applying sunscreen to one’s skin to protect it from getting sunburn. “You need to do the same thing with parking lots and driveways,” he said.
Hoever recommends sealcoating every five to seven years for the best results in terms of preventative measures.
In addition to painting and sealcoating, communities that have a clubhouse also need to have their HVAC systems serviced each year as part of their preventative maintenance schedule, noted Hoever.
For associations with pools, he said it’s also important to perform preventative maintenance by periodically servicing the pumps and equipment, checking motors to ensure they’re properly oiled and adjusted, and making sure the fittings are on properly to avoid filter leaks from occurring.
In high-rise buildings, Hoever noted that it’s important to run and test the elevators every month and have them serviced routinely as part of preventative maintenance.
Hoever explained that preventative maintenance projects are organized and scheduled based on how long the specific item lasts. “With painting for example, a good paint job should last four to five years,” he said.
Therefore, depending on your facility, painting should be scheduled every four to five years to prevent issues from occurring.
In addition, Hoever said that most preventative maintenance projects should be done in the spring or early summer to avoid excess heat or cold.
He also explained that preventative maintenance items should be included in the association’s reserve or deferred maintenance budget.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many associations may be finding themselves behind schedule in terms of maintenance projects.
Hoever noted that the pandemic resulted in delays in a number of preventative (as well as regular) maintenance projects. Aside from the initial closures, restrictions such as social distancing measures also limited the number of workers who could be on site at the same time. In addition, workers who contracted COVID-19 or were in contact with someone with the virus had to stop work and quarantine for a certain period of time. “It threw a real monkey wrench into things,” said Hoever. “But with that being said, I see it as more of an inconvenience than a problem.”
Although he said it could take two years to get back on schedule, Hoever noted that he does see things improving in terms of the COVID-19 Pandemic affecting maintenance projects. “We’re going to be behind, but it’s not critical as long as we get caught up and keep moving,” he said.