During times of economic hardship, sometimes it makes business sense to suspend operations at your under-performing locations. You may also find it necessary to suspend operations on a temporary basis during times of an unusual crisis, or a natural disaster. In all of these cases, the facility becomes what is commonly referred to as a dark store. For facility managers, a dark store situation can create unique maintenance circumstances:

  • Due to lease obligations, the property and assets on site still need to be maintained.
  • Without staff and customers regularly visiting the location, it can be difficult to keep tabs on the state of the property.

Unless you are able to physically check the dark stores yourself, it's beneficial to find a reputable, trustworthy service partner to assist in inspecting the property on a regular basis to help you stay in compliance with the conditions of your lease. This includes making sure that the grounds, exterior of the property and interior of the facility remain in good condition when re-opened or returned to the property owner at the end of your lease.

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Dark store HVAC maintenance

Although many essential facility assets such as refrigeration units and freezers can sit dormant in a dark store, it's important to continue operating your HVAC units in order to protect the facility from unnecessary damage. Running your HVAC units can help avoid expensive facility repairs by:

  • Keeping the humidity levels down and preventing mold growth
  • Protecting your pipes from freezing when temperatures drop

Given that your HVAC units will still be running, it’s important that you keep up your HVAC maintenance checklist with regular services such as air filter changes and coil cleanings. Without these critical services, your filters could get severely clogged, causing you to:

  • Run up your electric bill
  • Overwork the units
  • Potentially damage the internal components of the equipment

If the facility's HVAC units are damaged, then you could be on the hook for costly replacement parts and services. That's why adhering to your regularly scheduled preventive maintenance program during a dark store period is key.

Double duty: dark store inspections

Because your HVAC service provider will already be visiting your dark store at an established cadence, they can help you with performing dark store inspections while the facility is inoperable. These inspections can help ensure that all of the internal and external assets of your facility and property are well-maintained and in good condition throughout the remainder of your lease, or the temporary shut-down period.

While performing your HVAC maintenance checklist, experienced service providers can also check the following areas and report any findings and/or potential issues back to you:

Grounds:

  • Parking lot/driveway areas
  • Garbage/dumpster removal
  • Snow removal
  • Mowing of vegetation

Exterior:

  • Roof
  • Gutters
  • Rooftop HVAC Units (filtration)
  • Broken Windows
  • Vandalism

Interior:

  • Fire sprinkler system
  • Bathroom (toilets and faucets)
  • HVAC (thermostat settings)
  • Electrical systems

By staying on top of these inspections with regular reports, you can have peace of mind knowing that your property and facility will remain in good condition and any issues will be caught before it's too late.

Finding a partner you can trust

Ultimately, the decision to cease operations at your locations is not an easy one — whether temporarily or permanently. Maintaining the condition of your property when your facility goes into a dark store status should be one less thing you have to worry about.

Finding a reputable service partner can help ease the burden of dark store maintenance by protecting your property’s crucial HVAC assets and keeping you up-to-date on any additional maintenance needs. In the long-run, this will help you avoid any unexpected costs or violations to your lease agreement when it’s time to return the property back to its owner.

If your location is in need of dark store HVAC maintenance or inspection services, BFC Solutions is here to help. Get in touch with us to schedule a consultation today.

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