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Recommendations for Your Metal Building Maintenance

A consistent maintenance routine is key to making any asset last as long as possible. This applies to your steel building system as much as it does to your automobile or your home. There are a few annual inspections that almost anyone can perform to ensure that the metal panels on their steel building will last their intended lifespan.
This article will focus specifically on the maintenance of metal roof and wall panels. There are various other types of preventive maintenance actions that can be performed on a steel building that will not be addressed here.

Metal Building Maintenace by TylerBuidling.comWALL PANELS
Your metal wall panels are the most visible part of your steel building system so it is important to keep them looking as good as possible. The list below describes that most common types of preventable damage related to metal wall panels. These conditions can be found by simply walking around the perimeter of your building.

o    Dirt Splashed onto Wall Panels: While walking around the perimeter of your building, look for dirt that may be coated on the base of your wall panels. If you do not have gutters on your building (or your gutters are clogged), rain will cascade from the roof to ground and, depending on the ground covering around your building, splash dirt onto your metal panels. Certain types of soils can stain your metal panels over time.
What to do: Simply wash off any dirt you find on your panels with water or a soft brush. To prevent dirt from splashing onto your panels make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear of obstructions. If you do not have gutters, install some type of ground cover around the perimeter of your building to prevent water from splashing soil onto your panels in the future.

o    Build-Up of Ground Material: Look for ground material resting against the base of your wall panels. Ground material can be dirt, ant mounds, leaves, grass clippings, etc. This ground material can hold moisture against wall panels for prolonged periods of time, which will eventually lead to the formation of rust at the base of your panels. What to do: Remove material from the base of the panels and wash the panels clean with water. The ground level around the building should be below your sheeting notch. Eliminate ant mounds near the perimeter of the building. Instruct lawn services to blow grass clippings away from your building.

o    Fasteners:  Thus far we have been concentrating our panel inspection at the base of the wall panels. Now you need to scan the panels from top to bottom focusing specifically on your wall fasteners. The coat of paint on the head of a wall fastener typically deteriorates faster than the finish coat on a wall panel. After about five years or so, you will begin to notice a few fastener heads starting to develop rust on them. These fasteners will eventually “bleed” rust onto the face of your panel. The rust will stain, and eventually rust, your wall panels. It is much less expensive to replace fasteners than wall panels. What to do: Simply replace the few problem fasteners you find each year. Fasteners can be purchased from your building supplier. A socket wrench is sufficient for replacing the fasteners given the small quantity of fasteners you will be replacing.

o    Chemicals: Many (maybe all) fertilizers, herbicides and pesticide will cause your metal panels to rust in a surprisingly short period of time. What to do: Keep all chemicals off of your metal panels. When spraying around your building, use a piece of cardboard, or some other type of material, to shield your metal panels from the chemical. Instruct lawn services and exterminators to never spray your panels with chemicals.

ROOF PANELS
Though your roof panels may not be as visible as your wall panels, they are the first line of defense against rain, sleet and snow. Inspecting them is a bit more difficult than inspecting your wall panels but it is worth the time. Since a roof inspection will likely involve a ladder, enlisting the assistance of a helper is recommended.

o    Foreign Debris: Scan the entire roof area for foreign debris. Water needs to be able to flow down your roof panels as quickly as possible. Foreign debris (e.g., bottles, cans, etc.) can impede the flow of water down your roof resulting in standing water on your roof. Debris can eventually wash into gutter and downspouts causing water damage to interior walls. What to do: Remove any items on your roof that do not belong there.

o    Dissimilar Metals: Never allow your roof panels to come in contact with, or water runoff from, any dissimilar metal including, but not limited to, copper, lead or graphite. Failure to adhere to this requirement will cause your roof panel to deteriorate rapidly. Common causes of dissimilar metals are lead hats for plumbing vents and condensate from rooftop A/C units draining onto the panels. What to do: If any of the above conditions exist on your roof, have the problem addressed by the appropriate trade contractor as soon as possible.

o    Clogged Gutter & Downspouts: Clogged gutters and/or downspouts are probably the number one cause of leaks and panel damage. Gutter and downspouts are intended to control the flow of water from your roof to the ground. If gutters and/or downspouts become clogged with foreign debris, water will often back up into the walls of your building. Leaves are typically the number one cause of a clogged gutter but almost anything that can be thrown onto a roof can potentially clog a gutter too. What to do: Clean your gutters at least once a year. Run water in your clean gutters and make sure that water is flowing freely from all of the downspouts.

o    Fasteners (Rust): Fasteners can transmit rust onto your roof panels just as they can your wall panels. Tyler Building Systems provides only long-life fasteners on the roof to comply with panel warranty requirements. (Note: Not all building suppliers standardly provide long-life fasteners on the roof. If your building does not have long-life fasteners, your roof panel warranty is likely void and you will need to be extra vigilant in replacing problem roof screws each year.). What to do: Replace any fasteners that are showing rust on the fastener head. Life wall fasteners, a socket wrench is sufficient for replacing roof fasteners.

o    Fasteners (Backing-Out): Fasteners can back-out, or unscrew, from your roof due to the natural occurrence of thermal expansion and contraction. Fortunately, this happens slowly so an annual inspection is sufficient to correct the problem. What to do: Check for fasteners that have unscrewed from the roof panels. If you find any, simply screw them back snug. Be careful not to over-tighten roof fasteners since this can damage the fastener washer.

Though this is by no means an exhaustive list of preventive maintenance suggestions, if you can perform these tasks at least annually your metal panels will last a very long time.

Posted in: metal building information, metal building systems

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