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Yellow drop-arm external blinds at Chiswick Park Business Estate

External blind maintenance considerations

By: Oli Birch Category: External Blinds

One of the key considerations when specifying external blinds is how the systems will be maintained.

As they’re installed externally, they present a slightly more challenging task with regards to maintenance than an internal blind. However, through sufficient preparation and consultation with a shading specialist, these challenges can be identified early in the design phase to ensure the correct solution is in place from the beginning.

In this blog, we discuss four topics regarding external blind maintenance:

  • Internal access vs external access
  • How often do external blinds require maintenance?
  • The impact the height of an installation has
  • What does external blind maintenance consist of?

Internal vs External access

Gaining access to the motor and external blind itself is the first area to focus on.

If the external blinds are considered early in the project, an internal access panel can usually be accommodated in the design. This provides easy and safe access to the motor, causing minimal disturbance.

Alternatively, if the windows open internally, maintenance can usually be carried out from inside the building if there is a strong enough fixing point for the worker to anchor to.

However, seldom are buildings built with inward opening windows in the UK. Therefore, if an access panel is not incorporated in the design, or the windows open outwards, external maintenance is the only option.

In this instance, there tends to be three popular methods of operation:

  1. Maintenance via a cherry picker
  2. Maintenance via a boom lift
  3. Maintenance via abseiling

All three present larger hurdles to overcome than internal access as often partial road closures are required to allow for safe operation. Though it’s not a big issue, the problem highlights the importance of allowing for an internal access panel wherever possible.

How often do external blinds need to be maintained?

Firstly, the type of product and surrounding environment will dictate how regularly external blinds need to be maintained.

For instance, if installed on a building surrounded by high-rise blocks where the system is not exposed to the elements, maintenance check ups once or twice are year will likely be sufficient.

External blinds on an office block

However, in more open settings, we would recommend seasonal maintenance. During the winter, systems can contract slightly due to the cold temperatures, whereas in autumn leaves can become lodged in the side channels.

Furthermore, the type of product will impact how often maintenance is required. External shutters, for example, are incredibly robust systems with a high windspeed threshold. Therefore, they contain fewer parts that will require maintenance, though the motor can often require regular checks as we point out further below.

On the other hand, external roller blinds and venetians are slightly more susceptible to damage and regular maintenance will result in a significant cost saving compared to repair costs.

External blind maintenance on high rise buildings

As scaffolding is required to install the external blinds during the building stage, returning to maintain the system externally can prove difficult, as we mention above.

Waverley installation team installing external roller shutters to a project in London

Therefore, it’s important to have operatives who have the correct training and licenses required to work safely at height with the necessary equipment.

Our project at Chiswick Park, from the header image of this blog, is a fine example of this. Here, we conduct seasonal maintenance on the external drop arm blinds using a boom lift with fully trained operatives.

In some instances, typically on larger high rise buildings, it’s impossible to regain access externally without scaffolding, which for a maintenance contract is excessive. In instances such as this, abseiling tends to be the best method for maintenance, if internal access is not an option.

What does external blind maintenance consist of?

Again, this depends on the type of product.

Roller shutters, which are typically heavy systems, tend to age quicker as they collect dirt and grit more than other systems. This can put additional strain on the motor, so regular checks are required.

Furthermore, it’s important to add a coating of Teflon spray to the face of a shutter during maintenance. This improves the smoothness of the operation and takes unnecessary pressure off the motor to extend its lifespan.

As a general rule, maintenance for external shutters is all about making the operation of the system smoother. This typically consists of cleaning out debris, checking and clearing the side channels, ensuring the slats are not damaged and the motor is running efficiently.

Meanwhile, for external rollers and venetians, similar processes are followed. However, the maintenance is focused on care and attention to the slats and fabrics to ensure they’re running square, not getting snagged and are free of any obstructions.

If you’d like to discuss external blinds in greater detail for any upcoming projects, we’d love to hear from you, so please contact us here.

Alternatively, we also offer a RIBA-approved CPD focused on external blinds, which we deliver in person or via a webinar. You can find out more information here.

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