We never know the severity of winters in Illinois. In 2017, there were times during the winter that were almost “balmy.” But then 2018 turned everything around
with temperatures dropping to as much as 23 degrees (F) below zero.
Because we never know what winter will bring, astute facility managers must prepare for the worst. And a lot of this preparation work involves two things: maintaining your HVAC system and protecting indoor air quality (IAQ) in the winter.
Tips to make sure your HVAC system is up to par to protect indoor air quality during the winter months:
Have the system inspected. Preferably, this should be performed in September or October. If a part needs to be replaced, for instance, it may need to be ordered, which can take one or more weeks to arrive.
Drain and winterize cooling towers. If these will not be used during the winter months, all water and moisture should be drained. These systems should remain dry during the ice-cold weather.
Look into “smart” thermostats. These thermostats are designed to heat (and cool) properties based on how and when they are used. Gone are the days of one thermostat controlling heating and cooling for the entire property, whether areas are used or not. While the savings can vary, smart thermostats are designed to reduce energy costs significantly.
Inspect your roof. In fact, not only should the roof be inspected, but check the entire building including weather stripping and insulation for holes or cracks that can result in cold drafts entering the property or heated air leaving the property. This can increase energy costs.
We often suggest that building managers have their staff handle many of these winter inspections. This is because they usually know the property better than anyone else.
Cleaning and Indoor Air Quality
It is during the winter months, when we spend more time indoors, that indoor air quality can become a more pressing issue. It’s quite common, for example, for building users to experience more respiratory and allergy issues during the winter months, often due to poor IAQ. Here are some things we can do about it:
Make sure your cleaning staff is using only green-certified cleaning solutions. These are designed to have a reduced impact on the indoor environment.
Further, they have few, if any volatile organic compounds (VOCs). According to the Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs are gases found in many products, including cleaning solutions. VOCs can produce adverse health effects, including respiratory issues, headaches, nausea, impair cognitive functions, and they have even been associated with cancer in some animals.
We emphasized the word “only” above for a reason. Building managers should realize it is not enough to use just some green cleaning solutions. View the cleaning solutions used in a property as if they are the spokes on an old carriage wheel. The wheel is only as sturdy as its weakest spoke. We don’t want any weak spokes, like traditional cleaning solutions, to interfere when it comes to protecting the health of building users.
Install at least 15 feet of high-quality floor mats at all building entries. We discussed in another blog. (Link here) We mentioned that quality floor mats help prevent ice, snow, moisture, and soils from entering the property. But they do more than that. If fewer contaminants are entering the property, it can reduce the amount of cleaning solutions necessary to clean the facility. Green or not, whenever we can use fewer cleaning solutions, we are helping to protect IAQ.
Finally, the cleaning contractor should work with building managers to develop a winter cleaning and maintenance cleaning program. Many areas of a property such as floors will need more frequent cleaning in the winter months than in the warmer months of the year.
For instance, the frequency of vacuuming likely will need to be increased to remove dry soils. Further carpet cleaning frequencies may need to be increased. With foot traffic, soils can be pounded into carpet fibers. View soils as tiny daggers.
As they are pounded into the carpet, they can cut and weaken fibers, impacting the lifespan of the carpet. Be sure and talk to your cleaning contractor on ways to prevent this.
The Secure Clean blog is designed to help building managers keep their facilities cleaner, healthier, greener, and safer, in the most cost-effective ways possible. To learn more about us, please take a few minutes to explore our website at www.securecleanbsi.com, contact us here, or at 888-609-1410.