On the Surface

Teresa Sedmak Comments
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A storage facility’s maintenance program can range from comprehensive to none at all. But your choice of preservation plan for metal buildings and doors will affect the satisfaction of your customers and staff and, ultimately, your bottom line.

A well-maintained facility attracts more customers, operates more efficiently and has a higher market value. Tenants get frustrated when dealing with doors that are difficult to open or close or that soil them with chalk or dirt every time they access their units. By exercising proper upkeep on your buildings and doors, you’ll inevitably decrease operating costs and turnover, which will increase your profit.

Identifying Issues

The best preventive maintenance involves quarterly or semi-annual inspections of metal doors and buildings to identify and solve problems as they occur. Check for signs of faded or aging paint, salt corrosion and acid rain. Once these problems begin, deterioration will accelerate at a startling rate, becoming more labor-intensive and expensive to fix.

An easy way to check for sun damage or fading of a painted metal surface is to observe it when moist. Wipe an area with a wet cloth or sponge. If there’s a noticeable difference in color or gloss, consider applying a quality clear-coat, which will not only restore luster but protect the metal and paint from additional damage. Doors that flex when they roll up commonly require refinishing. A proper application of coating will expand and contract with the door, keeping it covered. Block, wood and concrete surfaces cans simply be repainted.

Salt-air corrosion will feel rough and bumpy on metal. It will normally be worse at the bottoms of doors, where moist salt air sits for a longer time before it dries. Even if you are miles from salt water, your metal buildings and doors can suffer salt-air corrosion, especially if you use salt for snow and ice control. Again , a coating formulated for this type of application will ward off further damage.

Acid rain can wreak havoc on metal doors and buildings, even if you’re not in an area known for refineries, factories or power plants. Acid rain creates dark, permanently etched streaks on metal. This damage cannot be reversed, but it can be prevented.

Regularly clean all surfaces of dirt, grime and bird droppings, which can be particularly corrosive to paint. Washing with a neutral-PH cleaner and water is great, but even just rinsing off the dust will help.

Be careful not to aim water directly into units. Do not rinse the metal in direct sunlight or you may get hard-to-remove water spots, especially if you have hard water. A filter can help soften hard water, but it’s still best to rinse doors and buildings when in the shade.

Tenants may inadvertently run into corners of buildings with their moving trucks, so check these frequently for damage. Repair and repaint any broken corners on stucco or block walls, and simply replace smashed corners on metal buildings. Bollards can be placed near the corners of your buildings to protect them. These should be repainted when necessary or covered with plastic bumper-post sleeves.

Door Maintenance

While roll-up doors generally require little upkeep, according to several door manufacturers, one of the most important maintenance tasks is keeping doors and their mechanisms clean. An ideal time to perform routine checks is when a unit is vacated. Here are several procedures to ensure your doors remain in good working order:

  • When you sweep a unit, remove any cobwebs and dirt from the door guides, as they can interfere with the door’s smooth operation. You can wipe the guides with a rag, but don’t use grease or WD-40, as it will only attract dirt and grime and gum up the rollers.
  • Clean all dirt and debris from the floor guides.
  • Ensure the door is secured to the wall. The screws may have backed out after excessive use, and sometimes none of the screws is in place.
  • Lubricate the springs with a very light coat of oil to reduce friction and prevent rust. A silicone-based lubricant can also be used.
  • Doors that are difficult to open and close may require re-tensioning, especially older doors or those that get a lot of use. Check the tension, and adjust it according to the manufacturer’s directions. Newer doors have simple tensioning devices and can be easily adjusted. It doesn’t pay to have a tenant injure himself due to a poorly maintained door.
  • Check the pull cord, especially if it’s on the outside of the door, as it can quickly wear. Nylon rope is a good choice, particularly in colder areas where routine winter maintenance (i.e., snow-blowing) can damage cords. The ends can be melted or singed so they won’t fray.
  • Inspect the unit for signs of leakage, and replace worn weather seals as necessary. The seals should also be kept clean. One door manufacturer recommends applying a thin coat of Vaseline to prevent rot.
  • If your doors are dented, get a tool kit from your manufacturer to fix them.

The outward appearance of your facility projects your image to the public. Preservation costs very little but can earn you a lot in new business. Use preventive maintenance to ensure smooth door operation, glossy building facades, and happy tenants and employees. Facility upkeep is not really an option when it comes to maintaining a profit.

Teresa Sedmak is the president of Everbrite Inc., which manufactures and markets Everbrite Protective Coating, and Pacific Pride Products Inc., Everbrite’s contracting division. She is also a licensed painting contractor with extensive experience and knowledge of protective coatings. For more information, call 800.304.0566; e-mail tsedmak@everbrite.net; visit www.everbrite.net.

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