Design dilemma: Home maintenance is better than cure

Matthew Rawlinson, senior facilities manager at home maintenance company Mplus, highlights the importance of taking a preventative rather than curative approach to caring for your home

<p>Matthew Rawlinson, Mplus, Senior Facilities Manager</p>
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A common misconception by UAE residents is that if it works, don't worry about maintenance. The issue with this is that when the inevitable breakdown happens with the equipment in your apartment or villa, it will cost you three times as much to carry out preventive maintenance as the price of an annual package with a maintenance company. So the moral of the story is to take regular preventative action. It will save you money in the long run.

Air-conditioning units, both internal and external, require a recommended service of at least twice per year to ensure sufficient cooling and increased air quality, as well as to reduce energy consumption. This can only be achieved by periodic maintenance by a specialist company. Water tank cleaning is another essential service recommended for all villa owners in the UAE due to high temperatures and the quality of desalinated water. The build-up of sand and grit that is found in both water supply pipes and water tanks needs to be addressed annually, at least.

High temperatures also lead to the build-up of bacteria, while the risk of legionella in both underground and above-ground tanks can increase. They need to be cleaned and treated, because water and airborne diseases can carry severe health risks, some of which can be fatal.

Due to the varying quality of contractors used in the original building of apartments and villas, along with the use of sometimes sub-standard parts and materials, the Mplus team face numerous common issues on a daily basis.

The most prevalent of these, after A/C servicing and water heater issues, would be rectification or replacement of faulty water pumps. These pumps provide pressurised water to the apartment or home. Another important task is the rectification or replacement of A/C compressors, which circulate the refrigerant necessary for heat exchange through the coils of the indoor and outdoor units; and water tank float valves, as this ensures that the capacity of the water tank is always at a maximum level. If not properly checked and maintained, this can lead to excessive water bills.

There are things UAE residents should do to maintain their homes. First of all, ensure there is adequate cooling within the home in the summer months and that the air is of satisfactory quality. This can be achieved by regular A/C maintenance, including duct cleaning, especially if they unit hasn’t been operating during the winter months. You should also ensure your water supply is not contaminated and there are no pests or rodents in your household.

It is also advisable to have someone check the electrical circuits and fixed assets in your home – the pumps, garage doors, lights for optimum operation, and correct wiring and connections. Ensure fire alarms or smoke detectors are fitted throughout your house and, if extinguishers are in place, that they are inspected and certified according to Dubai Civil Defence regulations.

We also recommend you inspect and verify your monthly water and electricity bills for the possibility of over-consumption. Many steps can be taken to reduce your monthly bill, which include periodic maintenance on all A/C units, which will reduce the energy used by the motors and compressors to cool your house. The installation of LEDs instead of standard halogen bulbs, and the fitting of automatic light timers are other quick and easy ways to reduce consumption. And for villa residents, always water lawns at dawn or dusk to conserve water and avoid evaporation.

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