Summer Shape-Up: A Self-Storage Operator's Guide to Complete Facility Maintenance

Amy Campbell Comments
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You don’t have to be a new facility to be the No. 1 choice in your community. Regular maintenance and upkeep will keep your current tenants happy and attract new ones. This ultimate maintenance guide covers everything from your rooftop to the asphalt, unit doors to golf carts. Whether these tasks are performed weekly, daily or as needed, staying on top of them will ensure your facility is in top shape year-round. 

OUTDOORS

How the outside of your facility looks—from the curb to drive aisles—is a critical component of your facility’s success. Potholes, overgrown or dead landscaping, peeling paint, dented doors and burned-out signage gives current and prospective customers a negative vibe about your facility. Here are some guidelines to keeping your outdoor environment looking sharp. 
 
Pavement

Everyone hates potholes. Get rid of these pesky craters as soon as they happen. You’ll need to rely on a professional to do the job, but it’ll be well worth it. If your parking lot is riddled with problems, consider an asphalt overlay. The overlay thickness should be 1.5 to 2.5 inches. Add a sealant to your facility’s pavement every three to five years to minimize cracks and extend its life. Portland cement, which is a fine powder, can also help remove concrete stains. Just sprinkle it over the stain and sweep it up a day later.  
 
Building Exteriors

The exterior of your buildings, particularly at the front of your property, represent your facility’s condition as a whole. If the buildings look rundown with cracks or faded, peeling paint, expect customers to make a beeline to your competitors.

“A simple power-wash could be a low-cost resolution to remove mildew and stains,” says Ryan Dorrell of CertaPro Painters. A fresh coat of paint can also do wonders. Or consider using a coating that restores paint to its previous luster and adds a protective element. For metal siding, use a mild degreaser to keep it clean. Additional tips:

  • Regularly check for building damage made by nature or people.
  • Cracks should be filled to prevent water leakage into units and keep out pests.
  • Rust should be removed and the area repainted to prevent further deterioration.
  • Protect your buildings with bollards. To cut down on maintenance, consider using bollard sleeves, which slide over existing fixtures and can withstand weather and traffic.
  • Hire an exterminator to eradicate unwanted insects and rodents.
  • Keep the grounds free of trash and litter.
  • Facility signage should be bright and easy to read. Replace faded signs or burned-out bulbs in signs that have lighting.

Green Tip: Buy paints and siding with no volatile organic compounds.

Roof

The upkeep of your facility’s roofs is critical. Roofs can collapse, leak and deteriorate. For the best prevention, walk your roofs regularly to remove debris and check for problems. When walking on standing-seam roofs, be careful to tread along the purlins and do not step on the ridge caps. Your roofs will likely have some residue from wind, rain and storm, but you may also find scrap metal, cans and bottles. Dissimilar contact between metals causes corrosion. Birds can also wreak havoc on roofs.

Dale Nelson of Roof Hugger reminds operators to regularly check their roof fasteners. If they begin to show rust or drip, replace them. Use an oversize stainless screw to give the roof the maximum possible life. Look for missing or loose screws, deteriorating rubber washes, separation of lap joints, and exposed sealants that have cracks or bubbles.

Remember to clean out all gutters and downspouts every spring and fall. Make sure the water drainage leads away from the building.

Green Tip: Use a “cool” Polyvinylidene Fluoride paint system, which combats the heat-island effect via solar reflectance. 

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