"Look Ma! I'm famous." Our restoration expert and in-house master brewer, Anthony Nelson in the latest Building Management Hawaii August/September 2017 issue. 

Maintenance Can Avoid Calamities

By Anthony Nelson, Senior SVP of Operations and Certifications

Having worked in property restoration for over 16 years, I am often asked the same question by folks who manage buildings and their infrastructure: “How do I prevent the next water damage, flood, or mold issue?” The reality is that the buildings we manage are subject to an enormous amount of external and internal forces including:

·  Age/deterioration

·  Weather

·  Fluctuations in water pressure

·  Lack of proper maintenance

·  Improper renovations/additions

·  Occupants of the property

A majority of the events we handle for folks on a daily basis are simply unpreventable and the risk and effort that would go into preventing such events are simply just not cost effective. However, there are a few things that you can be aware of that will help reduce the likelihood of the next event occurring on your watch.

Disaster Planning

Over the years, disaster planning has become associated with an endless set of three ring binders filled with a plethora of “what-if” information to be employed when emergency events occur; however, reams of printed paper are rarely the first place building occupants or managers turn to in the event of an emergency. During an emergency, you turn to a person; usually a very specific person who has intimate knowledge of the buildings systems and infrastructure, someone like a resident manager, site manager or member of your engineering department. This trusted expert becomes that endless set of information in the event of an emergency.

While it is important to have someone on-call with this type of specific knowledge, designating another person who knows the ins-and-outs of the property is crucial. Someone who can be called upon when that key person decides to take two weeks to go fishing in some remote part of Alaska with no cell service. The average one-inch water line can leak 58 gallons a minute. A four-inch fire suppression main can leak 240 gallons a minute. When you start adding up the extra minutes it can take when you do not have a second in command, the potential savings turn into thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars, very quickly.

Where the traditional disaster plan has its merits is in providing a checklist of steps to follow in the event of an emergency. Below are a few excerpts we collaborated on with a property last year who appointed their second in command.

1.  Water & Fire Damage Emergencies

a.  Location of water shut offs in each unit / unit stack

b.  Location of electrical shut offs in each unit / unit stack

c.  Contact information of property restoration companies approved to work on property

d.  Contact information of specialty vendors of proprietary building systems

  i.  Fire Alarm

  ii.  Elevator/escalator

  iii.  Security

  iv.  Fire Sprinkler/plumber

  v.  Electrician

e.  Contact information for the property’s insurance agent

f.  Documented procedures for how losses are handled. From shutting off the water to how insurance claims get filed

2.  Mold/Asbestos Issues

a.  Asbestos & Mold awareness training

b.  Procedure for what can be addressed in-house and what can go to a vendor

c.  Proper containment procedures

d.  Contact information for the Indoor Air Quality vendor approved to work on property

As you can see, the plan can be simple. Usually once you start asking the questions, you will find out you already know all the answers but there is great value in not having to think about what is next and simply focus on executing your disaster plan.

Building Maintenance

When we talk about building maintenance and water issues, the plumbing system is typically the number one culprit. Rather than focus on the key issues like cast line replacement and old water heaters that we are all aware of, I would like to focus on the issues where a little effort can save you some serious dollars.

1.  Supply Lines – Any plumbing appliance is usually connected to a shut off via a supply line. These supply lines can range in a variety of materials. Our preference is a stainless steel braided rubber hose with threaded connections. This is the culprit for a lot of the work we do that can easily be prevented. Either including it in your maintenance plan to replace them or simply spec them as required on all work going forward could save you from your next issue

2.  Water purification systems – For the same reasons above, it is the supply lines we see a lot of issues with. A lot of these supply lines are made from inferior materials. Some buildings have banned them completely. If you decide to allow these systems, again, use spec only systems that have stainless steel braided lines with threaded connections.

3.  Regular Drain/Waste Line Maintenance – As our infrastructure ages in our buildings, so do the pipes. The diameter of a cast iron pipe will decrease in diameter as the iron oxidizes. Having a regular maintenance plan with the plumbing vendor of your choice will go a long way in preventing backups and will give you an idea of the useable life left for those pipes.

4.  After-the-fact roof penetrations / modifications – Most quality commercial roofers will offer a substantial warranty that will become invalid if someone else does work on the roof. With the recent boom in solar, we have seen a lot of otherwise completely perfect roofs start leaking following installation of solar panels. The solution: whenever you have work done that will modify or penetrate the roofing membrane, always have your roofer available to consult to prevent a leak and to avoid possibly voiding your warranty.

A little can go a long way in preventing property damage from occurring.  While it is common to feel defeated before you even start when it comes to prevention, a few, small, well-executed steps can help tremendously in preventing your next building calamity.


Anthony Nelson is senior VP of operations and certifications at Premier Restoration Hawaii, as well as an applied microbial remediation technician, applied structural drying technician, carpet cleaning technician, carpet repair and re-installation technician, color repair technician, commercial drying specialist, fire and smoke restoration technician, health and safety technician, odor control technician, resilient flooring inspector, and water damage restoration technician. (And sorry, ladies, he's taken.)