Inside a Building’s Anatomy Understanding Your Most Vital Building Operating Systems

If you think about it, a multifamily building isn’t that much different than the human body—both house important complex operating systems and organ-like pieces of vital equipment, both take in fuel and produce waste, and both require regular check-ups and a good maintenance program to stay healthy and thriving. 

Checking In, Checking Up

And just like humans need to see doctors regularly for updates on the heart, lungs and eyes, buildings need to have examinations of their systems as well, with checkups required for HVAC/chillers, plumbing, electricity, and the building envelope.

Steven Maze, principal of Elara Engineering, an engineering consultant firm located in Hillside, says the laundry list of what should be checked includes mechanical (i.e. heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems; plumbing (domestic hot water, domestic cold water, including a pressure boosting pump system in high rises), waste and vent piping; electrical systems (motors, lighting, wiring, panels and overcurrent protection such as fuses and circuit breakers; and fire protection mechanisms like sprinklers. 

The problem is, no two multifamily buildings are alike, which is why each building should have a solid maintenance plan in place.

“Heating for example can be via electric or natural gas based, air/water/steam,” says Maze. “Similarly, cooling can be via a central chilled water system or small, self-contained air conditioners serving each individual unit. Depending on the specific system and equipment, there are daily, weekly, monthly, annual and even 10 year maintenance tasks.”


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