Maintenance is what we do to keep our facilities and equipment functioning as intended. It is the process of increasing the use of a building by regularly servicing major systems, equipment, and areas inside and outside a building. If you own ANY property, facility, equipment, vehicle, etc., you perform maintenance.
Having served the church facility world for nearly 35 years, I believe there are four types of maintenance that are prevalent or should be considered when developing an intentional facility stewardship plan. Maintenance can be proactive or reactive. It can save you money or simply keep your doors open. A lack of maintenance is likely to increase your costs down the road.
Maintenance Type #1: Corrective Maintenance
Corrective maintenance is probably the most common and most prevalent type of maintenance in a facility maintenance plan. It is the “break/fix” work that we do daily such as an overflowed commode, a burned-out light bulb, or an HVAC system that is not cooling in August. Corrective maintenance is needed when something fails or is not working as intended. This type of maintenance is inevitable and inescapable. Things break. Things wear out. Moving parts cease to move. Life cycles are exceeded (more on this later) and items have reached the end of their reasonable useful life.
While corrective maintenance is a daily part of any facility operations, there are ways to mitigate these unexpected repairs that impact both time and cost. When our teams are consumed performing corrective maintenance, they do not have the time to be proactive. This kind of reactive method of managing and maintaining a facility is like a hamster on a wheel. It never stops. It becomes a vicious cycle.
Maintenance Type #2: Preventive Maintenance
In my opinion, preventive maintenance may be the most important type of maintenance your church should be performing…hands down!
Preventive maintenance is your proactive approach to facility management. It is looking into the future and making intentional plans for addressing maintenance that will extend the life of your equipment and facilities. It reduces the potential of downtime and the need for reactive corrective maintenance. Regularly performed maintenance on a piece of equipment still working well lessens the likelihood of it failing. If you are looking to save money, then adding preventive maintenance is one of the best ways to ensure you stay on top of your facility needs and mitigate a large portion of corrective maintenance.
Any time the Apostle Paul in the New Testament says, "Do this," he often follows it with a, "so that." Facilities managers need to make sure staff and volunteers understand why they are being asked to maintain a piece of equipment. For example, monthly filter changes on our air conditioners help keep the units running at optimum condition and provide a clean environment for congregants. Moving away from a task-oriented mindset to a "so that" mindset helps change the perspective of the importance of preventive maintenance.
Maintenance Type #3: Predictive Maintenance
We understand corrective maintenance because we all do it, and most of us at least know we should be planning and conducting preventive maintenance. But what is predictive maintenance?
Predictive maintenance uses condition-monitoring equipment to evaluate an asset’s performance in real-time. A key element in this process is the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT allows for different assets and systems to connect, work together, and share data. Some examples of predictive maintenance include temperature sensors, water sensors, vibration analysis, oil analysis, thermal imaging, and equipment observation.
For example, if your water heater fails, a leak-detection sensor would send a warning to you so that you could go check on this BEFORE it flooded your ministry. Brotherhood Mutual has partnered with Notion to offer their smart sensors to ministries. The sensors can monitor for temperature, water, sound, and movement. These sensors are easy to install and monitor for small problems. That way, you can prevent them from becoming major disasters.
I believe that as we move more toward incorporating IoT devices in our church facilities, we will see the huge advantage of predictive maintenance.
Maintenance Type #4: Deferred Maintenance
Deferred maintenance isn’t really maintenance. It is just a term we use to say we did NOT perform the maintenance we should have. The result is a ministry facility that has not been properly maintained, cared for, or stewarded.
According to David Tod Geaslin’s Inverse-Square Rule for Deferred Maintenance, “If a necessary repair is deferred and allowed to remain in service until the next level of failure, the resultant expense will be square of the cost of the primary failure part.”* This means that ignoring a $10 part when it fails will cost you $100 when the next part fails.
This reiterates my earlier point that planning and preventive maintenance along with properly funding your annual maintenance accounts in the ministry budget is much cheaper than letting things get deferred.
Planning your maintenance is a great way to avoid falling into the trap of deferred maintenance. It’s easy to get distracted, and before you know it, your regular maintenance, like caulking windows or changing filters, turns into larger, costlier issues. A very effective way to plan your maintenance is to use some type of system that works for you. It could be a spreadsheet, online document, or a purpose-built software program like Smart Church Solutions’ eSPACE.
Maintain and Steward Your Facility
If you are looking to improve your facility stewardship plan and proactive facility maintenance, then do ALL you can to eliminate deferred maintenance listed above and seek ways to be more intentional with preventing maintenance and predicting problems. Your facility and budget will thank you!