On September 23, early in the morning at 4:21 A.M, the autumnal equinox will begin. The autumnal equinox is when the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator from north to south. (The celestial equator is the circle in the celestial sphere halfway between the celestial poles. It can be thought of as the plane of Earth’s equator projected out onto the sphere.) For those of us, like me, that did not do great in Natural Science classes…this just means the Fall season is officially staring. Get the rakes and leaf blowers out!
With the Fall season upon us (and Winter on its heels), we dash toward the end of the year, we once again want to share 10 useful Year-End Maintenance Tips to assist you with the stewarding of your ministry facilities…these are all practical items that every church can implement:
1. Reduce Your Set Points (temperature): For each degree you lower your thermostat (for heat); you will lower your utility bill by an average of one percent. This is the easiest way to reduce your energy consumption…thus your operational costs.
2. Use Ice – As we approach the Advent and Christmas seasons, many churches decorate their facilities with Poinsettias. These seasonal plants are a mainstay during the Christmas and winter season for many congregations. Well…the best way to “water” these plants is to use an ice slurry. If you use only water, the potting soil tends to dry out quickly due to the heat drying the air and absorbing moisture in the air and in our plants (and anything in our facilities that have moisture including your wood). By using an ice slurry, you allow the ice to melt and continue to “water” the plants over a longer period of time keeping them fresher longer.
3. Change Your HVAC Filters – Changing the air filters in your HVAC systems is a key aspect of your preventive maintenance initiative. For many, the change of the season is a great reminder to perform this task. Remember that regular filter changes can extend the life of your units and reduce energy consumption (i.e. – SAVE MONEY). This is also a great time to verify the systems are in good working order.
4. Get The Right Entrance Mats – The right entrance mats are the first line of defense to keeping dirt out of your facility, including sand, snow, ice-melt, leaves, etc. It also is needed to protect your occupants from potential slip hazards given wet conditions. Ideally, the matting would start outside the entrance doors and continue inside allowing the occupants to step 3 times with each foot on a mat. And not just any mat…get the right “kind” of mat that does not crush…can store dirt and water for future removal…and reduces the possibility of dirt being tracked into your facility. Remember, that 80% of all dirt enters your facility from peoples feet and it costs between $500-700 to remove a pound of dirt once it is in your facility…so, the best way to reduce cost in cleaning, is to stop the dirt form entering your facility.
5. Inspect All Exterior Doors and Windows – Check to make sure that caulking is still flexible and is sealing any gaps between window/door frames and exterior walls. This ensures the warm air stays inside the building during the winter and seals the exterior building envelope from water penetration and leaks. For added energy savings, check the weather stripping at all exterior door frames to make sure it’s still in place and serving its intended purpose.
6. Clean Gutters and Downspouts – Ensure all gutters and downspouts are clear from debris so that they adequately drain water away. This continues to be important as the season progresses and leaves fall. Consider pruning overhanging trees at this time to keep the leaves and debris off the roof. Clogged gutters can cause water to back up, which will damage the roof and the trim around the roof and soffits, as well as siding. During cold winter weather, standing and backed-up water in gutters can freeze and cause ice dams that will damage your roof and sheathing, and lead to leaks. Downspouts should discharge into underground storm drain leaders or empty onto splash blocks that adequately divert the water away from the exterior of the building.
7. Check Exterior Faucets and Service Irrigation System – Install frost-proof exterior hose bib faucets or drain older non-frost-proof faucets to keep them from freezing and breaking during the winter. This is also a good time to have the underground irrigation system serviced and prepared for winter by a qualified irrigation contractor.
8. Exterior Site Concrete and Asphalt Pavement – Perform regular sealing of exterior cracks in sidewalks and paved areas during the fall. Water that freezes inside these cracks can cause the concrete to spall and deteriorate, leading to more costly repairs later. The water penetration can also cause the sub-grade to soften, leading to settlement and potholes.
9. Perform Roof Inspections – Get your ladder and check out the roofs around your campus – or hire a qualified roofing contractor to inspect your low-sloped built-up and membrane roofs as well as the higher sloped shingled roofs. Look for areas of loose shingles, especially around the building eaves where ice dams can form during winter, which allow moisture to enter under the shingles. In addition, check flashing at vertical wall intersections, chimneys, and plumbing vent boots to confirm there are no holes or other damage that can allow water to enter the building during heavy rain or snow. Adequate roof maintenance not only reduces leaks, but extends the life of your roofing systems. It is important to check low-sloped roofs weekly during the leaf falling season to ensure that roof drains are not clogged with leaves and debris.
10. Check Attics – Check the insulation in your attics to confirm it’s the proper thickness and is distributed evenly. Lack of proper attic insulation is a major cause of heat loss in a building, which will increase your heating costs. You should also check to see that all vents are operating properly and there is no insulation blocking the continuous soffit vents around the attic perimeter. This is also a good time to ensure that fire sprinkler lines located in unheated attics are adequately insulated to prevent freezing and breaking of these lines.
BONUS – Christmas is only 3 months away, so it is not too early to start to think about how to bless your facility team. Here is a gift idea for your team…the Facility Stewardship Manual. It is a must have for every church with a facility. This is the Ideal Gift for not only your Facility Team…but for your facility (it will thank you later)!
There you have them…practical tips to help you be a better steward of the facilities God has entrusted to you.