Organizations of all types and sizes rely on their facility and maintenance departments to keep their operations running smoothly. Without a skilled facility maintenance team, this would not be possible.
What is facility maintenance?
Facility maintenance is any technical task required to ensure or restore an organization’s physical environment’s operation, quality, and safety. Corrective maintenance (returning function) and preventive maintenance (maintaining function) are both strategies involved in facility maintenance.
Facility maintenance tasks include any of the following categories:
- Building infrastructure: carpentry, painting, roofing, door hardware, etc.
- Surrounding property: landscaping, parking lots, pest control, etc.
- Building systems: plumbing, electrical, HVAC units, safety systems, etc.
- Equipment, capital assets, and furniture: medical equipment, vehicles, office furniture, etc.
What's different about facility maintenance compared with other types of maintenance?
The term facility maintenance can often be confused with other maintenance terms, so having a clear definition helps identify the key differences.
It’s important to note that different organizations may have varying definitions of these terms or use them interchangeably. The following definitions are the most common uses.
Building maintenance is commonly used interchangeably with facility maintenance, but there are some nuanced differences. Building maintenance extends across more industries than facility maintenance, with a narrower scope of work.
As opposed to facility maintenance, building maintenance often doesn’t extend to the regular maintenance of equipment items or capital assets, focusing instead on the building’s infrastructure, systems, and cleaning. In some cases, building maintenance may not include the surrounding property.
Property maintenance is very similar to facility maintenance but is used to describe a different organization type. Whereas facility maintenance describes owner-occupied buildings, property maintenance describes tenant-occupied buildings.
Property maintenance is a facet of property management, servicing infrastructure, surroundings, and building services that fall within the landlord’s responsibility. Any equipment items or capital assets managed by the tenant would not fall under property maintenance, such as office equipment belonging to a commercial tenant.
Residential maintenance describes maintenance needs required by homes, apartments, and condominiums, either funded by the homeowner, condo-owner, or landlord. These service requests can include anything from carpentry to plumbing, home renovations to refrigerator repair.
Commercial maintenance is very similar to residential maintenance but describes maintenance activities performed on non-residential, commercial buildings. The property owner, either the occupying business (if they own the commercial facility) or the property management company, funds these maintenance services.
Industrial maintenance describes service requests and upkeep on manufacturing, mining, packaging, and other industrial-related facilities. Also called plant maintenance, industrial maintenance focuses less on the infrastructure or building itself (although sometimes included) and more on the capital assets vital to production. Because of this, industrial maintenance is far more specialized than facility maintenance, requiring knowledge and training related to industry-specific equipment, rigs, and machinery.
Equipment maintenance describes a small subset of facility maintenance, namely servicing capital assets, machinery, HVAC units, and other building systems. It involves regular maintenance, preventive maintenance, and predictive maintenance on those equipment items rather than corrective maintenance on building infrastructure or the surrounding property.
What's the difference between facility maintenance and facility management?
Facility management is a broad category that encompasses facility maintenance, and this can lead to confusion. In our article on facility management, we list out the covered service types, commonly referred to as hard and soft services. Hard services relate to physical spaces, while soft services relate to the organization and its operation.
|Hard services include:||Soft services include:|
|Facility maintenance||Staffing and space planning|
|HVAC||Custodial and waste management|
|Plumbing||Grounds and pest control|
|Electrical||IT and technology|
|Lighting||Safety and security|
|Fire safety systems||EHS compliance|
|Construction and renovation||Catering and food service|
|Occupancy (leasing, relocation, purchasing)||Mail management|
Facility management oversees both hard and soft services, whereas facility maintenance oversees mostly hard services (except for groundskeeping and pest control). The differences are even more apparent when looking at how facility management teams are structured.
What different roles or job titles make up facility maintenance?
Three distinct roles commonly cover the responsibility of maintenance or facility management teams.
The goal of a manager is to oversee and ensure the execution of all facility maintenance tasks to keep facility operations running smoothly. They are the primary person responsible if something goes wrong. They may oversee just the maintenance needs (as is the case with a maintenance manager) or additional soft services such as mail delivery or staffing (as with the operations director or facility manager).
Their daily responsibilities include staffing facility management teams, establishing a preventive maintenance program, prioritizing maintenance work, and reporting on maintenance activities to business leadership.
Example job titles
- Facilities manager
- Operations director
- Maintenance manager
- Building and grounds director
- General manager, facilities maintenance
A facilities maintenance technician is the boots on the ground executing each maintenance task set by the manager. They are the skilled hands resolving service requests and meeting maintenance needs. Based on experience, these individuals range from junior to lead technician. A lead technician may even oversee a team of other technicians.
Daily responsibilities can include fixing a leaky pipe, replacing electrical outlets, and painting a hallway.
Example job titles
- Facility maintenance technician
- Facility maintenance worker
- Facility engineer mechanic
- Facility maintenance specialist
Depending on the structure of an organization, it may make more financial sense to consider outsourcing facilities maintenance. Some organizations may outsource all of their maintenance services or just a few specialized services. Here are a few considerations.
|Core to organization function||Peripheral to organizational function|
|Low training costs||High training costs|
Read more about outsourcing facilities maintenance.
Is a career in facility maintenance right for you?
A career in facility maintenance suits individuals with strong critical thinking skills, a love for working hands-on, and an aptitude for technical skills.
The career path begins with a junior or apprentice maintenance technician but becomes a senior or lead technician. An individual can then become a maintenance supervisor or expand into other operational responsibilities as a facilities manager or director of operations.
Here are the typical salaries for the following job titles, although these can change drastically depending on the region and organization.
- Maintenance technician: $30-40k per year
- Maintenance supervisor: $50-70k per year.
- Facility manager: $80-100k per year.
Read more about facilities maintenance career requirements.
What is facility maintenance software, and how can it help?
As we discussed earlier, facility maintenance encompasses many tasks spread out across a team of people. Keeping track of incoming work requests while meeting service schedules and keeping everyone in the loop is a job in and of itself. Maintenance software does the job of receiving, organizing, and dispatching work, so nothing gets missed, and everyone has what they need to resolve work quickly.
In the digital age, maintenance departments are transitioning from paper ticket systems to modern software solutions such as computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) or facilities management software.
With the introduction of smart buildings and building automation software, facility maintenance teams can delegate even more of their day-to-day tasks to software tools. With these tools, maintenance teams can control their HVAC units, lighting schedules, and security systems within a dashboard. They can also identify areas in need of attention based on alerts flagged throughout the facility.
Read more about the benefits of building automation.
Looking for more resources to grow your skillset?
If you are looking for more ways to grow in facility maintenance, we recommend checking out the following resources:
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