Wall Maintenance Depends on Construction Type

By Thomas A. Westerkamp  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Proper Maintenance Ensures Door Hardware Performs as DesignedPt. 2: Fire Doors Offer Unique Maintenance RequirementsPt. 3: This PagePt. 4: Tuckpointing Seals Small Cracks, Averts Major RepairsPt. 5: Sandblasters Effective in Cleaning Exterior Walls

The most common types of wall construction in commercial and institutional buildings are brick, wood, glass, cement or concrete block, reinforced or plain concrete, formed or flat steel panels, aluminum or asbestos cement panels, and plastic panels, which can feature sandwich-type insulation.

Some walls are load bearing and support floors, other walls and roofs. Others are non-load bearing and attached to structural steel, concrete or brick columns that support the upper walls, floors, and roof.

Most multi-story office buildings have structural-steel frames supporting the building and walls that are not load bearing. Instead, they serve to enclose the structure for security and climate control.

Chief advantages of this construction, compared to other types, are design flexibility, low to moderate cost, fast construction, and moderate maintenance costs. Concrete or brick load-bearing structures have the advantages of long life and low maintenance costs.

Maintenance of walls consists of: cleaning glass, flat or formed steel and wood; painting wood and steel; sandblasting block, brick or concrete; tuckpointing mortar joints in brick and block; and repairing or replacing damaged glass, plastic, steel, or masonry sections.

While masonry walls can easily last 50 years or longer with little or no maintenance other than cleaning, technicians should perform annual inspections on dry and sunny days, as well as on windy and rainy days. Different weather conditions will reveal different types of problems.

The inspections provide information managers can turn into planned maintenance work orders, grouped by the type of skill required. Managers also can schedule the work to occupy an entire day or several days’ time for the assigned crew, ensuring maximum efficiency by reducing preparation and travel time.

A print or electronic image of the wall showing inspection findings and required repairs is the simplest way to transmit information. A copy of the sketch can accompany the work orders for the painters and masons.

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  posted on 12/1/2008   Article Use Policy

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