Fall is the Perfect Season to Give Your Facility Some TLC

Fall is the Perfect Season to Give Your Facility Some TLC

By Ben Leake, director of operations, Eastern Territory, RWS Facility Services

As the days grow shorter and temperatures start to dip, businesses are getting ready for winter. Two seasonal tasks no business should neglect are conducting a visual inspection of your facility and performing preventive maintenance. As a commercial building, preparing your facility for the winter can help prevent minor issues from becoming major problems so you can enter 2021 prepared.

This year, commercial facilities face some additional complications thanks to COVID-19. With foot traffic and walk-in business slowing or stopping altogether, areas that once received plenty of attention may be underutilized, causing maintenance issues to go undetected. Staffing shortages created by layoffs have only added to this predicament, as fewer personnel are available to conduct inspections and make repairs. All of this makes addressing minor issues and heading off expensive repairs more important than ever.

In a recent article for Buildings Magazine, I wrote about the proactive steps you can take to prepare your property for the change in seasons, not to mention the challenges of operating a business during a global pandemic. Foremost among these steps is completing a thorough walkthrough of your facility. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of first inspecting your facility from top to bottom. Checking your roofs and windows, pipes and electrical systems will save a lot of money in the long run. Performing timely maintenance can also prevent accidents and other liability issues that can lead to lawsuits and fines.

However, performing a visual inspection is just the beginning. Once you’ve completed a walkthrough of your business site, you will need to address any areas that require attention and weatherproof your facility. For most buildings, weather proofing will involve cleaning up any debris, repairing those leaky pipes, replacing the batteries in your alarm system, and outfitting your HVAC units with new filters. If your facility has a lot of landscaping, you’ll also want to prepare your plantings for changes in the weather and repair any cracks in your walkways.

If you’re experiencing staff shortages or find the task of prepping your buildings for fall and winter more than a little daunting, you can also call in a facility services provider to manage these tasks for you. RWS offers a wide range of maintenance and repair services to keep your facility in prime working order, including HVAC maintenance, power washing, curb and sidewalk repair, landscaping, and roof and gutter cleaning. To learn more about what RWS has to offer, give us a call at 877-358-3402 or visit our website at www.rwsfacilityservices.com.

Four Ways Parking Lot Maintenance and Repairs Deliver Great ROI

Four Ways Parking Lot Maintenance and Repairs Deliver Great ROI

When an emergency like COVID-19 hits, the natural tendency is to place the maintenance and repair of property parking lots on the back burner and focus on economic survival. While the tendency to prioritize short-term economics is understandable, investing in the preventive maintenance and repair of your parking lot offers benefits that can ensure the long-term viability of your business.

In our recent article in Retail & Restaurant Facility Business, we shared deeper insights about the importance of parking. In this post, we’ll look at four ways a well-maintained parking lot delivers lasting ROI.

1. A well-tended parking lot increases the visual appeal and value of your property.

When most people think of “curb appeal,” they envision landscaping and building renovations. However, parking lot maintenance and repair play an important role in contributing to the overall visual appeal of your property. A parking lot filled with faded line striping and potholes can deter someone from renting a unit or buying your property before they ever set foot in your facility. By contrast, a well-maintained parking lot enhances the visual appeal of your property and increase its value.

2. Preventive maintenance and repairs will save you money.

Over time, your parking lot takes a beating from traffic and natural elements like the sun, rain, snow, and ice. During freeze and thaw cycles, oxidation can cause cracks in asphalt and the wear and tear of vehicles can worsen any underlying issues. Investing in asphalt patching and repair, sealcoating, and preventive concrete maintenance can extend the life of your parking lot by 10 to 15 years. When you factor in the permitting, materials, and labor costs associated with installing a new parking lot, spending money to reseal your asphalt every two to three years is a bargain that can save you several thousand dollars over the life of your parking lot.

3. Proper maintenance helps you comply with accessibility regulations and local ordinances.

Over time, the paint on parking lines can fade, leading to poor visibility and non-compliance with municipal and federal regulations. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires businesses to make spaces that are open to the public accessible to persons with disabilities and that includes parking lots. Local ordinances lay out additional requirements for the width, markings, and placement of fire lanes. Restriping parking lines every 1-2 years and replacing signage will ensure that your parking lot remains compliant with the ADA and municipal requirements.

4. Having a well-maintained parking lot is a safety issue

Ensuring the safety of tenants and visitors is probably the most important reason for keeping your parking lot in good repair. According to a study by the Independent Insurance Brokers of America, 1 in 5 motor vehicle accidents occur in parking lots and 13% of parking lot events involve pedestrian fatalities. Making sure your parking lot has bright, newly painted lines will increase the visibility of parking spaces, speed bumps, loading zones, and other areas, while Installing speed bumps and signs can reduced distracted and reckless driving. Eliminating cracks and potholes will further reduce the potential for accidents and protect your business from personal injury lawsuits.

As a property owner or manager, you have a duty of care to provide a parking lot that is safe, accessible, and convenient. If you are looking for a service provider to maintain your parking lot, RWS offers comprehensive services, including asphalt patching and repair, sealcoating, concrete maintenance, installation of speed bumps, adding or improving accessibility markings, and seasonal contracts for snow plowing, salting, and shoveling. Whether you’re looking to repair a neglected parking lot or invest in preventive maintenance, our parking lot services deliver a return on investment that can drive the economic health of your business for years to come.

For more information about parking, sweeping, line striping and repair services from RWS, download a PDF here.

Give Your Building a Lift in Visual Appeal and Preserved Property Values with Power Washing

Give Your Building a Lift in Visual Appeal and Preserved Property Values with Power Washing

Over time, dirt, mildew, graffiti, even chewing gum can take the shine off commercial buildings, leaving them looking run-down and poorly maintained. What’s worse, corrosive agents like mildew can cause lasting damage and unsightly grime can really depress the value of your property. In a previous post, we discussed how proper maintenance of curbs, sidewalks, and gutters can increase the visual appeal of property at an affordable price point. Along with maintaining curbs, sidewalks and gutters, simply power washing your buildings can go a long way toward enhancing the visual appeal of your property and protecting your financial investment.

Many people use the terms power washing and pressure washing interchangeably, but there is an important difference between these two procedures. Whereas power washing uses heated water to get rid of all that dirt, mildew, and other grime, pressure washing uses cold water. Other than that, the equipment, water pressure and cleaning agents used in power washing and pressure washing are almost identical. However, the use of heated water gives power washing the edge when it comes to removing particularly stubborn grime and hard-to clean surfaces.

For property owners and facility managers who want to take on power washing themselves, many home supply stores offer equipment to rent or buy. However, there are some real benefits to hiring professionals, particularly for large-scale commercial properties. One of the biggest advantages is safety. Professionals are trained to use safe practices and have the right protective equipment to minimize injury and prevent property damage. Moreover, most power and pressure washing service providers carry insurance to cover injuries and property damage when accidents do happen.

Going with professionals can also make a big difference when it comes to complying with environmental regulations. The federal Clean Water Act makes it illegal to discharge industrial wastewater into storm drains or creeks, streams, and other natural water bodies and many states such as Ohio and California have their own regulations. EPA fines for violating the Clean Water Act can top $50,000 per violation, making non-compliance a very expensive proposition. Hiring a professional with knowledge of local, state, and federal environmental regulations can head off potential citations and costly penalties.

At RWS, our Power Washing National Service Program provides a cost-effective way to remove built-up dirt and keep your buildings sparkling clean and in good repair. An added benefit to working with a company like RWS is the cost savings you can realize by bundling maintenance and cleaning services. By using a single service provider to do power washing, maintain your curbs, sidewalks, and gutters, and manage your waste disposal, you can realize significant savings in maintenance costs.  We’ll even run a cost analysis to show the return on investment you can realize by using RWS for your interior and exterior facility needs.

If you’re looking for ways to extend the life of your buildings, boost property values, and impress prospective tenants and investors, power washing is an excellent option.

For more information about power washing services from RWS, download our PDF of services here.

More than Just Beauty – The Many Benefits of Landscaping

More than Just Beauty – The Many Benefits of Landscaping

When people think about the value of landscaping, curb appeal is often the first thing that comes to mind.

In a previous post, we talked about how visual impact can influence real estate purchasing and rental decisions. In addition to providing that curb appeal, landscaping can enhance the safety and sustainability of your property. However, to realize these benefits, it’s important to consider layout, the types of soil and plantings you are using, and to maintain your landscaping on a regular basis. In our recent article for Facility Executive magazine we shared more in depth insights about the essential benefits of landscaping. We share a few other important considerations below.

Beyond beauty you will find safety and sustainability

There’s no question that a well-designed landscape can beautify a commercial property. Flowers and shrubs add a pop of color and variety while concealing functional but unsightly elements like air conditioning units, electricity meters, and water pipes. Shade trees provide cool, sheltered places to sit and walk, and lighting can provide a focal point for eye-catching design elements.

Many of the features that enhance curb appeal also perform important safety functions. Lighting reduces accidents by increasing visibility at night and directing the flow of traffic. A good landscape design improves access to emergency vehicles by providing open, drivable spaces as well as proper drainage and run-off to prevent standing water, which can attract bugs and increase the potential for slips and falls. Certain kinds of plants—like rosebushes—placed in strategic locations can even deter crime.

Landscaping also enhances the sustainability of your property. Shade trees reduce the need for air conditioning and prevent soil erosion, while a little organic mulch extends the life of your plants by retaining moisture. Microbes in certain kinds of soil reduce reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Decreased energy consumption isn’t just good for the environment; it also lowers operating costs and offsets the expense involved in launching green initiatives.

Good planning and maintenance are important

For all the virtues of landscaping, there are some challenges that managers of commercial properties need to keep in mind. Before you invest in plants and design features, evaluate site conditions like the availability of water and sunlight and any local ordinances or other restrictions. Choosing the right plants and design makes a big difference in terms of drainage, pest control, and affordability, so you need to get a realistic assessment of your property’s features.

Even the best landscaping design won’t stay that way for long unless you properly maintain your plants. Removing leaf litter and debris is essential to keeping plants healthy, promoting good drainage and run-off, and preventing accidents. Inspecting trees for tell-tale signs of insect damage can stop an infestation from spreading to other trees. Regular inspections will also tell you whether your plants are receiving adequate sun and water. In addition, ongoing maintenance allows you to switch things up throughout the year to coincide with the holidays and other seasonal changes.

When looking for a landscaping vendor, it’s important to select a company that understands the unique requirements of your region in terms of climate, local ordinances, and other factors. Engaging a vendor that offers a full complement of facility services offers additional benefits, like consolidated billing, that can streamline property maintenance.

Managing a commercial property involves a lot of moving pieces. Investing in the right landscaping and finding a service provider who can maintain your investment is one important step you can take to increase the beauty, safety and sustainability of your property.

Click here to download a PDF with more information on landscaping services from RWS.

Make Plumbing Maintenance and Repairs Part of Your Facility Management Strategy

Make Plumbing Maintenance and Repairs Part of Your Facility Management Strategy

All too often, people wait until an emergency to address their plumbing needs. However, adopting a more proactive approach to plumbing as part of a comprehensive facility management strategy can provide significant convenience and cost savings.

Anybody who has faced an overflowing toilet or the gurgling of water from hard-to-reach pipes knows the sinking feeling that accompanies a plumbing emergency. From standing water to bad smells, plumbing problems can inspire panic and visions of skyrocketing repair bills. For property owners and facility managers, getting on top of plumbing repairs can’t be an afterthought, because you are responsible for the well-being of every person who comes on your property.

When addressing plumbing problems, there are two lines of attack—snaking and hydro-jetting. Snakes are long metal tubes, also known as plumbing augers, with blades or a corkscrew auger attached to one end. Using a hand crank, the plumber inserts the snake into the blocked drain or toilet to remove clogs.

While snakes are often a good option for minor to moderate clogs, hydro-jetting offers a more powerful solution for more stubborn stoppages. Hydro-jetting uses special nozzles attached to machines that pressurize water. The nozzle directs a high-powered stream of water into the clogged area to remove the stoppage. Because hydro-jetting can cause further damage if you’re dealing with burst or cracked pipes, plumbers insert a small camera into the clogged area before applying the treatment. For this reason, while some snaking jobs can be done by laypeople, hydro-jetting is best left to professionals.

At best, clogged sinks and backed up toilets are messy inconveniences. At worst, black water contamination from damaged pipes and sewer mains pose a very real health hazard. Under the circumstances, the temptation to hire a plumber and call it a day is understandable. However, adopting a more proactive approach to plumbing as part of your comprehensive facility management strategy can provide significant convenience and cost savings in the long run. For example, a facility service company with qualified plumbing professionals can analyze your property and recommend the most advanced and cost-efficient solutions for a needed repair or preventive maintenance.

If you decide to engage a facility service provider, it’s important to find a company that can provide on demand service in case something goes wrong. The last thing you want is to leave a voice mail and wait for help to arrive. Service area is another important consideration. At the very least, you need a service provider with a local presence who can deploy a team to your facility as quickly as possible. For companies that operate multiple facilities in different regions, having a service provider with a national footprint can provide responsive service no matter where your facilities are located.

Another big advantage of engaging a facility service company is the ability to address multiple maintenance needs through a single provider. For example, RWS offers grease trap cleaning, power washing, junk removal, HVAC repair and maintenance, and much more in addition to plumbing services. This kind of one-stop shop offers convenience as well as reduced costs from bundling services.

Investing in ongoing plumbing maintenance and repairs as part of an overall facility management strategy makes sound business sense, providing convenience, peace of mind and savings that are tough to beat.

For more information about plumbing maintenance and repair services from RWS, download our PDF here.


Got Junk? Sustainable Waste Disposal Programs Can Solve Your Trash Woes

Got Junk? Sustainable Waste Disposal Programs Can Solve Your Trash Woes

If you are a property owner or facilities manager, sooner or later you’re going to have to deal with unwanted junk. Maybe you have a construction project winding up and need to get rid of debris or you’re landscaping your property and have a small mountain of yard waste sitting on your property. Perhaps you’re a landlord trying to unload an unwanted refrigerator or abandoned furniture.

If any of these scenarios ring a bell, you’ve got plenty of company. Each year, the US generates approximately 220 million tons of trash. That amounts to 2.1 kg of trash per person per day and that figure is expected to rise by 2025. Moreover, while most local sanitation companies can readily remove everyday trash, they may not take bulkier items or hazardous wastes.

All too often, facilities must fend for themselves when hauling and disposing of junk and without the right equipment, this can be a grueling task. What’s more, unless you have personnel trained in the proper procedures for lifting and transporting heavy items, your workers can seriously injure themselves or other people. The problem becomes even more acute when you’re dealing with items that contain hazardous wastes, which can lead to corrosive burns, breathing problems, and other health problems.

The patchwork of local, state, and federal regulations for waste disposal add another layer of complexity to junk removal. The federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) lays out requirements for disposing of hazardous wastes, but gives states broad discretion for managing nonhazardous, industrial and municipal solid waste. On top of state and federal regulations, local ordinances dictate which items can be recycled or taken to the local landfill. Knowing where and how to get rid of junk can be confusing but failing to comply with environmental regulations can take a big bite out of your budget in the form of fines and other penalties.

Resolving operational challenges is only part of the problem. America’s trash problem is reaching critical mass, with the number of landfills projected to reach capacity in less than 18 years. Although recycling programs have taken up some of the slack, they only process 35% of overall waste. Waste that doesn’t get recycled or end up in landfills is often incinerated, which can release harmful chemicals into the atmosphere.

Fortunately, you don’t have to tackle junk removal by yourself. Many companies will haul unwanted items for a fee, but don’t always dispose of junk in an eco-friendly way. RWS offers a comprehensive junk removal program that includes experienced technicians to help you design, implement, and manage a recycling and waste program. Our U.S. based National Call Center is staffed 24/7/365 to manage thousands of service requests and deliver timely services at low national rates.

If junk removal is becoming a burden, consider hiring a professional to manage your waste disposal. The right service provider can help you negotiate the complex web of environmental regulations while disposing of your junk in an eco-friendly, sustainable way.

For more information about junk removal services from RWS, download our PDF on Sustainable Junk Removal here.

How and Why to Keep Your Grease Traps Clean

How and Why to Keep Your Grease Traps Clean

In the right context, grease can be the key ingredient to some truly delicious meals—think mouthwatering fried chicken and crispy bacon. However, for operators of large-scale and commercial kitchens, grease can wreak havoc if you’re not keeping your grease trap cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. Left untended, those fats, oils and greases congeal into a semi-solid mass filled with food and other debris that can make cleaning your grease trap a real chore.

While you might be tempted to put off cleaning your grease trap, neglecting this task is risky. When grease accumulates, it can clog drainage pipes, obstruct the flow of wastewater and cause sewage to back up. Left untended, accumulated grease can pollute public waste systems and the septic tank attached to your business. In addition, grease can attract flies and vermin and draw the ire of neighboring residents and businesses. Before you know it, you may be dealing with complaints to local health agencies, inspections, and fines for violations of environmental laws.

Running afoul of municipal and state agencies for non-compliance can add up to fines ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand per violation depending on your jurisdiction. When you factor in bad press and negative word of mouth from repeated environmental and health violations, neglecting your grease trap is more trouble than it’s worth.

Investing in preventive maintenance makes sense from a financial perspective. The cost of repairing clogged drainage pipes and pumping septic tanks can add hundreds of dollars to your annual budget. Businesses have two choices when it comes to cleaning grease traps. You can either go the DIY route or hire a professional. While DIY options might seem like a less expensive alternative, it’s not always a viable solution. Establishments may not have the proper equipment to properly clean grease traps and dispose of the waste.

If you’ve been putting off cleaning your grease traps, consider bringing in a professional team to handle the dirty work. Keeping your traps running smoothly eliminates unnecessary costs and any risk with health regulations. The peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re in compliance is worth every penny.

For information on grease trap cleaning from RWS, download a PDF here.

Maximize Benefits and Reduce Costs with HVAC Preventive Care and Maintenance

Maximize Benefits and Reduce Costs with HVAC Preventive Care and Maintenance

It’s official. 2019 was the second-hottest year on record, registering a worldwide average temperature that was 1.71 degrees above the 20th century average. Far from an isolated incident, 2019 was part of a warming trend that goes back to 1880 and accelerated after 1981. With temperatures rising, demand for air conditioning is also climbing, even in traditionally temperate countries like Germany. In fact, some experts predict that demand for electricity stemming from residential and commercial air conditioning will increase more than 140% by 2050.

Climate experts have long recognized the harmful effects that air conditioning can have on the environment. In 1989, the Montreal Protocol mandated the phase-out of numerous chemicals harmful to the Earth’s ozone layer, including R-22, a refrigerant commonly used in older HVAC units. More recently, climate advocates have proposed running air conditioning on solar power to further cut carbon emissions.

In response to the Montreal Protocol, HVAC manufacturers have switched to R-401A, a more environmentally friendly refrigerant. In addition, manufacturers are producing more energy efficient units that cut carbon emissions while yielding significant savings in energy costs, not to mention keeping tenants, employees, and customers comfortable. Approximately 50% of a home or building’s energy use stems from heating and cooling use, so these changes have the potential to make a serious dent in carbon emissions.

While buying energy-efficient units is a good first step, you also need to keep your HVAC units well-maintained to realize maximum benefits to the environment and your business. Hiring a professional company that provides a wide range of services, including emergency repairs, zone cooling, heating, and new installations, can help with both the cost savings and environmental benefits of investing in an energy-efficient HVAC. In addition, keeping your HVAC units in good working order will reduce the number of needed repairs and the amount of energy they consume, which can, in turn, significantly reduce unexpected expenses that adversely affect your budget.

As more people rely on air conditioning to cope with global climate change, facilities will need to make some smart investments in sustainable technology to reduce their carbon footprint. Acquiring energy-efficient HVAC units or keeping what you have well-maintained is an excellent way to contribute to a healthy environment while keeping your bottom line in check.

RWS offers facilities a variety of services to keep your HVAC units performing at peak levels. Check them out here.

The Benefits of Temporary Fence Rentals: Peace of Mind and Affordability

The Benefits of Temporary Fence Rentals: Peace of Mind and Affordability

Do security and safety top your list of concerns for managing your commercial and residential properties? If so, you are in good company. In 2019, there were 7 million property crimes in the US, ranging from larceny and burglary to motor vehicle theft and vandalism. While property crime has decreased in recent years, it still cost the US an estimated $16.4 billion in 2018.

Preventable injuries and deaths are another headache for property owners. In 2017, an estimated 127,300 preventable injury-related deaths occurred in homes and communities and over 38 million people sought medical assistance for nonfatal injuries. In total, preventable, injury-related deaths and medical incidents cost the US $472.6 billion that same year.

Installing fencing is an effective way to protect real estate from unwanted intruders and prevent property-related crimes and injuries. While securing your property with fencing is often a smart move, it can be expensive, depending on size and type of the fence. Add the cost of installation and you’re looking at an expenditure of thousands for new fencing. Even if you save money by handling the installation yourself, you’ll still need to invest a significant amount of labor, time, and materials to secure your property.

Such a sizable investment may make sense if you need a semi-permanent option, but many properties only require fencing during construction projects or special events. When you factor in the time and expense of installation and removal, purchasing temporary fencing doesn’t always provide great value.

For property owners seeking a cost-effective solution, renting fencing can save a lot of money and hassle. At RWS, we offer high-quality portable fencing options, reliable delivery, set-up and pick up and reasonable pricing. Our qualified technicians can quickly deliver and assemble fencing, making the program an efficient and affordable way to direct crowds during events or section off areas while construction is under way.

RWS fencing solutions come in a variety of sizes and different materials. Your options include:

• Durable steel fence panels available in 6‘ x 12‘ and 8‘ x 10‘ sizes.
• Resilient post-driven, chain link temporary fence that can be installed on any surface.
• Free-standing security fencing that is lightweight and adaptable for barricades, making this option ideal for crowd control.
• Privacy screen temporary fencing that provides protection from the weather, blocks visibility and creates a neutral and professional background.

They say good fences make good neighbors, and this is particularly true when your property requires temporary fencing and pedestrian barriers to divert crowds during special events or construction. Whatever your fencing needs, RWS has got you covered.

For more information about fencing services from RWS, download a PDF here.

Boost Your Property’s Street Appeal with Well-Maintained Curbs, Sidewalks and Gutters

Boost Your Property’s Street Appeal with Well-Maintained Curbs, Sidewalks and Gutters

The old saying “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression” certainly applies to curb appeal for your residential or commercial property. According to one study, 76% of real estate clients said that the curb appeal of a property played a major role in their shopping experience. What’s more, half of all real estate clients drive to a place to view it for the first time. The last thing they want to see is a run-down, poorly maintained property.

For most property managers, the first thing that comes to mind when you’re talking about curb appeal is the landscaping. An often-overlooked aspect of creating a visually appealing purchase or rental is the condition of your building’s curbs, sidewalks, and gutters. Cracked sidewalks and crumbling curbs give prospective tenants the impression that the property is poorly maintained and can be a deal breaker for buyers looking to invest in a prime piece of real estate.

Clogged gutters can also damage buildings, foundations, concrete surfaces, and even landscaping, so it’s important to keep them well-maintained to avoid expensive repairs down the road.

Depending on the jurisdiction, property owners can also be penalized for failing to maintain curbs and sidewalks. While cities and towns have varying rules and regulations about sidewalk repairs and maintenance, most jurisdictions hold home and business owners responsible for maintaining the sidewalks in front of or adjacent to their properties. If someone slips and falls due to poorly maintained curbs and sidewalks near your property, you could be liable for municipal fines, not to mention becoming the target of expensive litigation.

While some owners prefer to handle repairs and maintenance themselves, bringing in a professional can help ensure that your property meets local safety requirements and head off costly damage to your buildings and landscaping. At RWS, we offer a full complement of services for keeping the curbs, sidewalks and gutters on your property in good working order.

Whether you’re trying to head off potential problems associated with cracked curbs and sidewalks or clogged gutters, or you’re doing damage control to remediate existing problems, RWS is here to make your maintenance and repairs a seamless experience.

Do your curbs, sidewalks and gutters need some TLC? For more information on how RWS can help keep your property looking its best and safe, download a PDF here.