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With higher temperatures and annual summer holidays generally coinciding with less need for heating, Dennis Flower of Premises & Facilities Management looks at the merit of proactive maintenance planning.

There’s a long-established practice adopted by facilities managers (FMs) working in various areas in carrying out planned and preventative maintenance (PPM) when on-site activities are at their lowest levels.

Perhaps the best example of this is the education sector, which typically plans PPM and major projects to be started at the close of term, with the summer break finding particular favour for the servicing of heating systems in preparation for falling temperatures during the autumn and early winter.

While this will be regarded as a ‘no brainer’ by FMs charged with maintaining the facilities of schools, colleges and universities around the UK, it’s less clear how well the message is understood by those working in other sectors.

Should planned maintenance include replacing the ageing heating systems, rather than patching it up for another year?

Dennis Flower PfM Dennis Flower Editor of Premises & Facilities Management


Those involved with the PPM of manufacturing facilities may well have the benefit of a two-week, or longer, shut down for the annual servicing of production equipment.

This also allows for the possibility of including the factory’s heating system to avoid potential disruption due to the issues that can emerge should systems develop problems caused by increased demand placing extra stress on components and causing them to fail or malfunction when the temperature drops.

One of aspects of heating systems to consider is that they are rarely required during the main summer months – something which has been seen by many during the hot weather of recent weeks – and any interruption due to servicing shut downs should therefore be minimal, even if these actions impact temporarily on hot water supply.

So if it’s not convenient for these to be serviced at the same time as other PPM projects it should be a relatively simple task to arrange another time within the summer window.

Renewable heating

The other thing that could be factored in is whether this planned maintenance should include replacing the ageing heating systems, rather than patching it up for another year.

The argument for organisations looking at the possibility of adding a renewable system can assist with aims such as reducing carbon emissions, for example.

Systems have demonstrated how reliable they can be and how they can also reduce maintenance requirements and can deliver benefits to the business in terms of CSR and lower running costs, while delivering comfort levels for occupants.

While most renewable systems will require a greater initial expense, there are new ways of financing these and I know few FMs have been able to seriously consider renewables so perhaps we’ll explore this further in the future.

Planning ahead

No doubt we’ve all heard reports of the issues faced by numerous organisations during the last winter, due to harsh weather conditions placing extra stress and strain on heating systems and the last thing any organisation wants is unnecessary disruption to its daily activities.

It’s therefore worth considering whether summertime servicing of heating systems can provide a simple means of avoiding issues during the winter months, allowing FMs and their colleagues to concentrate on other matters.

Dennis Flower is editor of Premises & Facilities Management