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Commercial Facility Maintenance Problems

By Michael Hilton

The majority of problems associated with the maintenance of commercial facilities is lack of proper maintenance or lack of a proper facility maintenance plan for dealing the accumulation of interior soil load, but a number of problems can result as a result of maintenance.

Poorly trained staff continues to be a primary concern for many maintenance managers, but the management metric itself continues to be the primary drain on maintenance budgets and drive up facility maintenance costs. Too often we see maintenance managers pinching pennies by selecting economy priced cleaning chemicals in order to save nickels and dimes, when chemical costs are one of their lowest budgetary line items.

Labor continues to be the single biggest expenditure for most facility managers, yet these managers select chemistry that performs poorly, requires more frequent cleaning, or requires more time to accomplish the same task. These poor quality cleaning chemicals actually drive up labor costs and make facility maintenance more costly. Rather than saving budget dollars, they are driving up costs. Chemical costs may average $0.01 while maintenance labor costs may average $1.00.

Cleaning chemical selection applies to all surfaces-not just carpet. A window cleaner that leaves behind a sticky residue will actually increase the number of times a window must be cleaned. A hard floor cleaner that tracks off to a carpeted surface can cause carpet damage. An air freshener can cause paint yellowing. While all of these chemical selection processes may affect other interior systems, flooring remains a facilities single biggest maintenance expenditure, since everything eventually ends up on the floor.

The use of carpet is either loved or hated by many facility managers. Some believe it is easier to maintain. Others disagree. Hard surface flooring is not necessarily easier to maintain; it is simply easier to neglect!

Like other surfaces, cleaning chemical selection for carpet is important.

Resoil Potential

Have you ever heard the expression "Don't clean your carpet because it gets dirtier faster after it is cleaned". It’s true! (in some cases.) Some inexpensive carpet cleaning solutions leave an oily or sticky residue on carpet fibers that attracts soil like a magnet. The same is true for many grout cleaners, kitchen vinyl cleaners, and other floor cleaners. Once you clean these surfaces, they seem to become dirtier, faster.

Chemical Concentration

Another problem faced by facility managers is concentration or dilution of cleaning chemicals. This can add to the cost of chemicals, hide the cost of chemicals, increase cleaning frequency, and possibly cause damage to the cleaned surface. Cleaning chemicals are formulated to work at specific concentrations. Many maintenance staff members have a mistaken belief that if the label reads "2 ounces per gallon", then "4 ounces per gallon" will work "twice as good, twice as fast". This is rarely the case.

Mixing chemicals is higher concentrations usually drives up chemical costs and rarely improves the cleaning result, but can cause damage the surface being cleaned. Improper dilution also can lead to rapid resoiling.

Another mistake by maintenance managers is in purchasing chemistry that requires no dilution. Often they look at case price of cleaning chemicals without regard to how much area the case will clean. An $80 case is obviously clean more than a $180 case, right? Not necessarily. Higher cost products may use a dilution rate of 2 ounces per gallon, while less expensive products may require 16 ounces per gallon. The $80 case is actually 4 times the cost base on the cleaning result. The cost of cleaning products has very little to do with cost per gallon.

Failure to Perform Daily care

For carpet, daily care is the most important maintenance principal! This means vacuuming and entry mat maintenance. Vacuuming amounts to the same hard floor duty as sweeping, yet since carpet hides soil so well, maintenance staffs often neglect to vacuum properly. This is primarily why so many maintenance staff have a love/hate relationship with carpet. They love it on a daily basis, because they "think" they can ignore it, but they "hate" it when their neglect begins to reflect in poor appearance. Of course, the carpet gets the blame; carpet is then replaced with a hard floor, and the maintenance staff goes to work neglecting other surfaces because the hard floor will not allow neglect. This is when life becomes difficult for the maintenance manager.

Dear maintenance manager, here is punch list from yesterday:

  • Trashcans in 404 not emptied
  • mirrors in 2nd floor bathroom not cleaned
  • hallway in west wing not swept
  • exterior entry at south entry not swept
  • exterior trash not picked up

In evaluating the cost of floor maintenance, carpet is far less costly to maintain, if it is maintained. If it is neglected, it is really cheap to maintain, but expensive to replace.

Proper Cleaning Procedure

Carpet maintenance and carpet cleaning are two entirely different philosophies. Cleaning occurs as a result of maintenance failure. Cleaning and maintenance are a blend of short term and long term costs. Daily maintenance costs are by far the single largest expenditure, but cleaning must be performed using proper procedure in order to ensure satisfactory results.

Carpet Cleaning amounts to several inter-related procedures which ensures good cleaning efficacy. Each procedure must be performed to provide a satisfactory cleaning result. Cleaning is a combination of dry soil removal, soil suspension, extraction, and drying.

About the Author
Michael Hilton was the original creator of Carpet Buyers Handbook. Having owned and operated a carpet wholesale company, Hilton has a vast knowledge about all-things carpet related as well as other types of flooring.

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Commercial Facility Maintenance Problems
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