While the dog days of summer are behind us and fall is right around the corner, the still-warm weather can often lull facility managers into a false sense of security when it comes to preparing for winter. However, waiting to devise a winter maintenance plan until the first signs of snow and ice is a mistake.
A facility that prepares ahead of winter weather is in a better position—maintenance and safety-wise—than those that wait to prepare at the last minute. The following six tips can help you prepare for the colder months and ensure your facility is ready for anything.
Tip No. 1: Entryway Floor Mat Preparation
As summer transitions to fall, absorbent mats are installed in facilities to wick moisture from shoes before floors become slip-and-fall hazards. But as winter sets in, potentially heavy weather including snow will require you to place scraper mats on the outside of buildings, along with transition mats placed between them. Walk-off mat programs are an essential part of keeping facilities clean and safe. To better understand what each type of mat in a proper matting system does, as well as their best placement, refer to www.CMMOnline.com/entryway-mats.
Timing: If your facility’s mats are in storage, examine them for wear and/or replacement in June and July. If you rent mats and require replacements, place your orders in August.
Tip No. 2: Hard Floor Maintenance
Regardless of the style of hard flooring in your facility, plan to build up the finish to create “wear-off” coats on your floors. If you have vinyl composite tile (VCT) floors, your goal should be to apply a minimum of five coats. These additional coats will protect the VCT and other surfaces. Application is as simple as top scrubbing and applying additional coats. During winter months, salt abrasion and friction from boots will attack the finish, causing it to dull. The winter season can be very hard on floors, so expect to top-scrub and recoat before the end of winter. These “wear-off” coats will save the flooring beneath from physical damage.
Timing: Order floor finish in August; depending on your supplier, delivery may take 30 to 60 days. Note that many of these products cannot be shipped in cold weather or stored in a cold location.
Tip No. 3: Carpet Prep and Traffic Patterns
During summer and fall, facilities typically deal with dry soils that occupants track in on their shoes. While occupants probably use similar traffic patterns around the building regardless of the season, they will track in more moisture from rain and snow during winter months, depending on the region. Facility managers should examine traffic patterns on carpets, which could signal where they may want to place extra matting. Removing as much soil as possible in August and September while it's still dry can extend the life of carpeting; soils and moisture trapped during winter can continue to cause friction and shorten the carpet’s life span.
Timing: Plan quarterly or monthly low-moisture extraction on carpets, which will help as winter sets in.
Tip No. 4: Equipment
Examine the equipment you will need for the winter months to facilitate the drying of carpets and floors, routine maintenance, and deep cleaning, as necessary. Such equipment will include floor blowers/auto-movers, wet/dry vacuums, portable extractors, and autoscrubbers.
Maintenance for most of these items—with the exception of blowers—requires keeping the internal tanks clean and dry between each use. If you leave this equipment unattended and wet, bacteria can grow in and on its surfaces. When it comes to autoscrubbers, clean and dry the squeegee after each use to extend their useful life.
Timing: If you do not own wet/dry vacs, extractors, and scrubbers, speak to your jansan supplier no later than September to ensure availability.
Tip No. 5: Protecting Stainless Steel and Glass
Stainless steel and glass surfaces can present a particular challenge. They look great when they're clean, but wet gloves, moisture, and debris from boots can cause them to look dirty quickly. To maintain these surfaces, you may consider using products that incorporate nanotechnology to create a nearly nonstick surface on elevator doors, the glass of main front doors, and other common services.
Timing: I recommend first applications in September/October.
Tip No. 6: Chemistry
To make your job easier, take the time to understand "the chemistry of clean" and the frequency at which cleaning should be conducted. Most products arrive pre-packaged for use per service, and some have a shelf life of less than one year. It is important to calculate how many times you have to clean to maximize your budget.
Salt and ice melt should be part of your “chemistry-kit,” as well as a neutralizing cleaner to remove the residue these winter necessities leave behind. Salt or ice melt can damage nearby landscaping; if you are not responsible for the shrubs or landscaping, consider coordinating with the responsible party to ensure landscaping or vegetation remains unharmed.
Timing: To ensure on-time delivery, order salt and ice melt in August and September.