The Four Seasons: Follow These Maintenance Tips for Your Steel Building
Make sure your steel building is prepared for all kinds of weather by following seasonal maintenance checks.
As the Canadian Farmers Almanac predicted, this winter has been one part cold and snowy, one part warm and dry, and one part wild. As BC continues to dig itself out of the snow, it looks like spring and summer in the province will be just as unpredictable.
While a professionally installed steel building is built to last through extreme weather and other environmental conditions, long-term exposure can have an impact on your building over time. To be assured that your pre-engineered steel building will last for decades without the need for major repairs, follow these simple maintenance tips over the seasons:
Moisture plus freezing temperatures equals snow and ice, two elements that are not kind to most construction materials. Even conventional steel has its limits. Luckily, the steel parts for pre-fabricated buildings are incredibly strong and durable and can hold up to higher-than-normal snow loads. That’s why pre-engineered steel buildings are often used in the BC ski industry, as they are structurally engineered to withstand heavy snow and ice, high winds, falling temperatures, as well as high moisture content during the snowmelt.
It’s still important to maintain your building during the winter by removing excess snow build-up on roofs and around foundations to avoid unnecessary leaks as well as strain caused by uneven heaps of heavy snow, or ice dams.
The snowmelt and excess rain can bring on its own set of problems, such as floods and leaks if your building is not properly maintained. Consider the outside of your building by making sure the drainage system is working properly.
While it’s advisable to check that all water is not entering the building, it’s also good to check for both visible and concealed condensation, which can occur when the temperature drops to below 0°C or in the case of high humidity.
Make sure that there are no tears or breaches in your vapour barrier or insulation (this is also important to check when temperatures are extreme in both summer and winter). Also check for water pooling around the trim as well as the flashing and sealants, which are normally installed around eaves, vent stacks, solar panels, ridges and corners to prevent leaks.
When temperatures rise and air conditioners are engaged, it can sometimes cause high interior humidity resulting in condensation. It’s important to make sure any condensation from air conditioning units is drained away from the structure and that your ventilation is providing healthy airflow in your building. This is especially important is you are storing any fragile goods in steel warehouse buildings or have livestock in steel barns.
In areas of high humidity or medium pollution industrial levels, it’s important to maintain your steel building every four months, while in coastal regions within five kilometres to the ocean, every three months. The maintenance period in drier climates, such as the Southern BC Interior, is usually every six months.
While they are pretty to look at, leaves can cause a choking hazard to metal building systems. So when the leaves start to fall, it’s important to check that gutters, roof sheets, sheltered areas under eaves and canopies, as well as the upper portions of walls or roof extensions are clear of debris and damage.
Fall is also a good time to prepare for winter and to make sure that all electrical systems are working properly by having them inspected at least once a year. You may want to consider keeping a maintenance log that details all inspections and repairs that have been made by contractors and maintenance staff.
To see what other areas of commercial steel buildings should be maintained, read our post: 5 Pre-Engineered Steel Building Maintenance Tips.
Metal Structure Concepts is one of Western Canada’s leading designers, suppliers and installers of pre-engineered steel buildings. We also offer regular maintenance, inspections, repairs and retrofits as part of our value-added services.