The Benefits of a Greenhouse Maintenance Plan and Checklist
Note: This article is the first in a monthly series kicking off in February 2018 in which Greenhouse Grower and L.L. Klink Greenhouse Solutions (a national sales and service greenhouse provider) are partnering to provide you with information on how to most efficiently manage your greenhouse.
Greenhouse maintenance is one of the most important considerations growers should look at when it comes to determining their return on investment. In fact, they should look at their greenhouse not as a building, but as its own piece of “equipment” that needs regular maintenance checks as often as any other equipment.
Properly maintaining your greenhouse can be an inexpensive way to maximize your profits. For example, reducing just one drop of water per second from a leak can lead to 113 gallons in water savings per month, according to research from L.L. Klink.
A maintenance plan can also reduce equipment failures and improve equipment efficiency, while improving product yields by proactively addressing problems. For example, proper operating ventilation systems can eliminate stagnant air and condensation, improve cooling and heating, and increase the life of equipment.
Any greenhouse maintenance plan should start with the development of a checklist that covers the greenhouse structure, mechanical systems, environmental control equipment, and the irrigation system. In addition, it is critical to record any repairs made, or other potential maintenance issues. This will help you keep track of how much of your resources are being spent on maintenance.
The following is a sampling of some of the key areas to monitor in your greenhouse. The team at L.L. Klink can provide a more detailed checklist for tracking and maintaining areas in your greenhouse.
• Concrete/structure deterioration: structure and bench foundation, walkways, excessive rusting around post and pier
• Glazing: fading, punctures, inflation, light transmission, replacement history
• Gutters: cleaning to maintain proper drainage and inspecting for rust
• Plumbing: drainage, leaks, rust
• Wiring: corrosion, smell, damaged wires
• Fire safety: extinguishers, smoke detectors, exit plans
• Safety equipment: eye protection, first aid
• Heating: pilot lights, electrical, gas lines, venting
• Cooling: fans, evaporative cooling systems, vents, shade system, electrical
• Sensors: calibration, damages, power connection
• Vents: lubrication, operation, motors functionality, and limit setting for opening and closing of vents
• Misting equipment: valves, motors, fluid flow, filter cleaning, punctured liners
• Drippers: clog/kink check, fluid flower, filter cleaning
• Fertigation system: monthly flush, injector cleaning, emitter testing
Safety Should Come First
Safety has become more important than ever before, and no one wants to get injured. Most greenhouse owners and installers know it’s risky business working on greenhouses.
Standard Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations can be difficult to follow and costly to implement. Some of the important safety procedures being utilized today include safety harnesses, high-strength cables in gutters for tying off, better utilization of scissor lifts, and better design of structures. Safety should always be considered as part of the design, building, and maintenance of any greenhouse structure.
When it’s time to partner with a greenhouse maintenance supplier on a project, there are several rules you will want to follow to make sure you are connecting with a reliable company.
• Always contract with professional companies with skilled/experienced labor
• Be sure to have proper written contracts and insurance that addresses hold harmless language; workers’ compensations, liability, and excess/umbrella coverage; named as additional insured; and make sure the contracts are signed, executed, and current
• Immediately notify your insurance carrier if any incident occurs on or involving your property
The initial investment you make in greenhouse maintenance, even if it’s minimal, can lead to long-term cost savings. Contact L.L. Klink to set up your own maintenance checklist.