With the winter season upon us, and as we dash toward the end of the year, we have compiled 10 useful Year-End Maintenance Tips to assist you with the stewarding of your ministry facilities. These are all practical items 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 1 percent. This is the easiest way to reduce your energy consumption … thus, your operational costs.
2. Use Ice – This time of year, 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 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 three 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, 80 percent of all dirt enters your facility from people’s 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 from entering your facility.
5. Inspect All Exterior Doors and Windows – Check to make sure 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 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 subgrade 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 flashings 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 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 fire sprinkler lines located in unheated attics are adequately insulated to prevent freezing and breaking of these lines.
There you have them—practical tips to help you be a better steward of the facilities God has entrusted to you.