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Commercial real estate owners and building managers face many challenges, sometimes causing commercial buildings to be left temporarily vacant for various reasons. However, just because your building is empty doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Whether you have a scheduled vacancy or are facing a temporary vacancy, it’s critical to keep a close eye on your vacant properties.

It takes a lot of time and effort to keep up with vacant building maintenance. On the other hand, neglect can lead to costly repairs, disgruntled tenants, and a drop in business. Don’t let essential maintenance tasks slip through your fingers. Here are the top maintenance items you should consider to help prevent losses, reduce risk, and keep your vacant building future-proof at all times.

At Design Mechanical, we know how to keep your vacant building in good shape and avoid the headache of unnecessary repairs. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with your vacant building maintenance.

Commercial Building Maintenance Items for Vacant Buildings

Vacant properties can be problematic for today’s commercial building owners. However, while each building and location is unique, commercial property owners can protect their financial investments by ensuring proper maintenance of their vacant buildings.

Here are some of the most critical maintenance items you should consider implementing while maintaining your commercial buildings during a vacancy.

Before Shutting Down HVAC Equipment

  • Run a log and inspect your HVAC equipment before shutting it down, documenting its condition (i.e., cleaning coils, greasing motors, and bearings).
  • Take pictures of the equipment to keep a record of it.
  • Make a list of the repairs that are required.

After Shutting Down HVAC Equipment

  • Turn off the water supply to the lines, drain them, and, if necessary, blow them out with nitrogen or compressed air.
  • If the chilled water system contains glycol, ensure it’s at the recommended level.
  • Drain chilled water coils, lines, and pump if no glycol is present.
  • Drain and clean the cooling tower basin.
  • Pump and drain the tower lines.
  • Close all dampers and turn off the exhaust and relief fans.
  • Check that all outside air dampers in air handlers are closed and sealed.
  • Check that any chemicals are at recommended levels if a boiler is left on to prevent water lines from freezing.
  • Drain the boiler, boiler lines, condensate lines, water make-up lines, and pumps if the boiler is not being used.
  • Check all sump pumps for proper operation.


  • Meet with your water treatment contractor and request a “PUT UP” service of any equipment that will be drained for an extended period of time.
  • Any “freeze stats,” “low Limits,” and outdoor air intakes should be tested to ensure that they will operate or close in the event of extreme temperatures, preventing the freezing of any water coils.
  • Set equipment to “Exercise” for a minimum of weekly or monthly periods to ensure proper operation when needed and to reduce any startup issues when reinstalled.
  • Set up pumps to circulate the water in the event of a low temperature.
  • If there’s glycol in the system, check it with a refractometer or other device to make sure it’s at the right level of protection.
  • In a building where the water is left on, install low-temperature alarms connected to a listed central station to prevent damage from cold or freezing temperatures.
  • To avoid refrigerant slugging or flood-back when starting a “COLD” system, make sure any oil or crankcase heaters on your chillers or package equipment are turned on.
  • To avoid equipment freezing up, double-check the operation of your changeover controls and heating equipment. If necessary, adjust the thermostat.
  • To keep the pipes from freezing, set the thermostat to 55 degrees.
    • Set the air conditioner to 85 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid humidity and mold.
    • To protect against wind and rain, bring any outdoor furniture inside and close all doors, windows, and vents.
  • Make sure all bolts and screws on outdoor HVAC equipment are tight.
  • Boilers should be turned on to provide heat to keep firefighting equipment from freezing.
  • In the building, all utilities that are not required for protection or security should be turned off.


  • Maintain the operation of all sprinkler, fire suppression, and detection systems.
  • Regularly inspect sprinkler control valves, fire extinguishers, and other firefighting equipment.
  • Test/inspect all fire alarms at least once a year to ensure they are operational.
  • Inspect the roof for any potential exposures, such as clogged roof drains, storm damage, vegetation growth, or evidence of unauthorized access.
  • Inspect sump pumps to ensure proper functionality.
  • Inspect and clean gutters and insulate pipes to prevent leaks.
  • Caulk seams and cracks in any door and window frames, vents, roofs, and siding to prevent mold growth.
  • Keep landscaping and snow removal up to date to give the impression that the building is occupied and deter vandalism.


  • Conduct regular “walk-through” tours of the vacant property at different times of the day.
  • After a storm, inspect the building to check for leaks. If there are any leaks, clean them up as soon as possible to avoid mold growth.
  • Observe general conditions of the building, such as the interior and exterior of the building, to see if there are any signs of vandalism or trespassing.

Design Mechanical Can Assist You with Your Vacant Building Maintenance

Commercial building owners live busy lives, and vacant building maintenance can often be forgotten with an already busy schedule. However, maintaining the professional appearance of your building can go a long way toward protecting your investment and finding suitable renters in the future.

Are you looking to hire a licensed professional to maintain the HVAC system in your commercial building?

Design Mechanical is dedicated to providing fast and dependable commercial HVAC services to ensure maximum safety, welfare, and comfort for our Kansas City customers. We offer a full range of HVAC maintenance services for commercial HVAC systems. Our team of certified commercial HVAC maintenance technicians is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to provide full-service maintenance to ensure that your HVAC system is running smoothly.

To discover more about why we are Kansas City’s top choice for 24/7 HVAC maintenancd how our comprehensive list of business HVAC services can benefit your business, contact Design Mechanical today to schedule a free consultation and estimate.