4 min read

Emergency Maintenance: How to Manage and Reduce It

May 22, 2024

An alarm in the middle of the night. A phone call during off-hours.

Just reading these stress-inducing words will make your heart rate quicken, right? And rightfully so. Emergency maintenance requests can be scary. These unexpected events disrupt routine, impede on budget and create new challenges that must be tackled immediately, or risk extended periods of inconvenience and downtime–or worse. When health and safety of other people is involved, the stakes are raised.

But don’t let that scare you. The best way to overcome the unknown is to be prepared. There are opportunities to combat emergency maintenance issues, as long as you employ tools to alleviate the requests and solutions to overcome these last minute problems.

What is Emergency Maintenance?

Emergency maintenance is a type of unplanned maintenance that is required to prevent harm to people, property, or business. If the threat is left ignored or untouched, the issue could cause serious damage. Fixing emergency maintenance requests will keep your residents, buildings, and assets safe and healthy.

For example, the Utah Department of Transportation shut down a section of the busy Interstate 15 after a light pole fell onto the roadway overnight. No one was injured, and traffic was not impacted. However, upon inspecting other light poles along the highway, concerning cracks were discovered in multiple standing light poles. This was considered an emergency maintenance issue and required immediate maintenance since the light poles could cause substantial harm and damage if fallen.

Other examples of emergency maintenance are:
  • A tree branch falls on a unit during a storm, causing flooding and electrical issues
  • Faulty or un-maintained equipment causes a fire
  • A pipe bursts in a basement unit and flooding occurs
  • The HVAC system for a unit fails
  • A gas leak or chemical spill is discovered

You may be faced with urgent, but non-emergency maintenance issues. An example of this is a clogged toilet in a unit with two or more functioning toilets, or a non-functioning elevator with no riders inside.

If you’re wondering if you’re experiencing an emergency maintenance issue, ask yourself “Does this impact the safety of employees and customers?” If the answer is yes, you’re dealing with emergency maintenance and you need to act immediately. If the answer is no, you may be facing a routine maintenance request that can be more easily remedied.

How Does Emergency Maintenance Disrupt the Workflow?

Emergency maintenance makes your routine workflow screech to a halt. Suddenly, everyone has a new priority, and other activities fall to second place, creating stress that will emerge later on once the rush has subsided.

When immediate maintenance is needed, it disrupts scheduled maintenance tasks, takes multiple team members away from their jobs, and may cause delays across multiple workstreams. Maintenance that must be delayed due to the lack of available resources (often caused by emergency maintenance) is called deferred maintenance and it is inconvenient for both your staff and customers.

How to Manage and Mitigate Emergency Maintenance

Now that you understand what emergency maintenance is and how it impacts the workflow, it’s time to dive into the ways you can manage and mitigate. 

  1. The first step when faced with an emergency maintenance situation is to ensure that all people involved (staff members, residents, customers, etc.) are safe and out of danger’s way.

  2. Next, consider the situation and the solution. Analyze all possible fixes and their outcomes. It’s imperative to act fast, but smart, when there is a threat to people, buildings, or assets.

  3. Once you’ve decided on a plan of action, get moving quickly. You may need to call in additional support staff, suppliers, or the emergency response personnel.

Emergency maintenance is rarely entirely preventable. However, it is possible to lessen the negative impact by investing in tools and solutions that make your team feel more prepared.

Implement a preventive maintenance schedule. Routine maintenance and regularly-scheduled health checks on systems and equipment will help you identify concerns that could become emergencies in the future.

Develop an emergency maintenance response plan. Assign a team of trusted staff members who will be responsible for jumping into action when an emergency occurs. Clearly communicate roles and required response time so everyone is on the same page ahead of time.

Plan ahead. Predict certain situations that could go wrong, so that you have an action plan ready if they go wrong. Some common situations that may cause emergency maintenance include gas leaks, equipment failure, or natural disasters.

Look to the past. Analyze emergency maintenance issues that have occurred in the past, and create solutions based on the success or failure of these events. Learn from mistakes and repeat successful solutions or integrate new ones.

Invest in a facility management software solution. Before something goes wrong, it’s important to have the digital structure to assign tasks, record activities, and analyze the impact of maintenance issues quickly.

Smart Software that Solves Emergency Maintenance Issues

The number one priority in an emergency maintenance situation is to act quickly to get customers, residents, and employees out of harm’s way. Time is of the essence and with slow, outdated processes, you’re at risk of serious damage. This is where high-functioning facilities management software becomes a no-brainer.

Investing in facilities management software will make responding to emergency maintenance easier for your entire staff. Since the software keeps historical notes of prior maintenance activities, equipment records, current inventory and more, team members can have transparent access to all of the relevant details of a property to help them fix an emergency repair faster and in a more efficient way.

For Employees and Staff Members

Communication is made simpler with automated work orders, message notifications, and transparent conversation on record. And, having a preventative maintenance module as a part of your facility management software helps your staff see how much planned vs. unplanned work is being done over a certain period of time. 

For Customers and Residents

Customers and residents can submit their own maintenance requests and communicate with repair personnel. They can track the status of their requests and remain up-to-date on the latest issues.

With FlowPath, facilities management is simplified. When processes are automated, employees and staff members can tackle repairs faster and efficiently, making customers happier and businesses flourish.

Don’t let an emergency make you scramble–or worse, cause serious damage. Connect with us today for a demo to see how FlowPath can set you up for a more efficient emergency maintenance response.

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