As the end of winter approaches and preparation for the spring season has started, it’s a good time to take a moment to take a look at your greenhouses. Doing maintenance now and setting up a program to detect damage early can help save you money and headaches in the long run.
What to look for
Greenhouse engineering is based on the structural components being in good working order. Deterioration and/or improperly maintained components can become a point of failure in your greenhouse system while under load. The sunlight and water you depend on over time can break down your greenhouse.
Most greenhouse coverings take advantage of ultraviolet radiation inhibitors to slow down the degradation of glazing material. However, according to Greenhouse Management, these inhibitors have a limited life span, leading to a breakdown in the cladding. That’s bad on two fronts—reduces light transmission and the cladding becomes more brittle. Timeframes will vary concerning this problem based on the type of covering you have and your geographic location.
Water is a crucial part of the greenhouse industry for growing plants. But water is hard on structures over time—whether they’re made of metal or wood. This is an area where preventive maintenance is key. Make sure you remove any standing water around load-bearing pieces, such as gutter posts or columns. Rust or the deterioration of wood can also lead to weakened structures.
Loading can be thought of as constant pressure, such as from snow or wind. The stress and movement in a structure can cause weak points and structure failure.
Knowing where issues might arise and regularly checking these areas will give you a starting point for your maintenance plan:
- Check the exterior of the structure for cladding issues like slipped glass, deflated polyethylene film, and loose fasteners
- Review the age of the covering to determine if it’s past its life expectancy
- Examine the exterior for any washouts or erosion and deterioration around load bearing members
- Make sure the structure is plumb with no shifting and/or deflection
- Identify areas where there’s standing water and/or evidence of the presence of water
- Ensure that all greenhouse structures and covering connections are secure
- Test that all vents close completely
- Check seasonal equipment to make sure it’s operating properly
Developing a reasonable, concise, and regular schedule for maintenance can keep your greenhouse in good operating condition. Here are some things to consider:
- Designate and train employees to identify maintenance issues
- Complete regular structural evaluations to identify problem areas
- Schedule regular maintenance during down times to repair the issues found in the evaluations
- Triage the problems identified
- Maintain accurate records that document the maintenance performed and ages of the different components of the facility
- Keep an eye on greenhouse components for things like premature polycarbonate yellowing
- Know the warranties for your materials and maintain a filing system for relevant paperwork
- Contact contractors and suppliers to see if they offer maintenance programs
Maintenance might not be high on your to-do list, but a well-maintained greenhouse facility provides a safe, efficient, and productive atmosphere—and helps you save money.
If you have questions on how to start a maintenance program at your business, Hortica is here to help—just contact us.
For more information on protecting your business, check out the Hortica Resources section.
Looking for some helpful hints to manage the busy spring floral season? We offer a little advice.
Tax time is around the corner. It’s also a good time to consider how your cash flow statements can impact your insurance. We take a closer look.