Sign On

by Katie Lee

Seven life-extending sign maintenance and cleaning tips for your facilities’ signs.

By Lou DiDomenico

There’s no time like the present to add a little TLC into your sign maintenance efforts. It was a long, hard, cold and wet winter for a large part of the nation and who knows what could be in store for these “brand ambassadors” during the summer months.

When you think of it, most signs endure a wide range of temperature extremes every year of their life. Whether the signs are mounted on the outside of the building, on pylons, or are ground/monument mounted, the temperature extremes on the sign face or within the signs could range anywhere from triple digit heat temperatures all the way down to negative double digit cold temperatures.

These temperature and weather related extremes cause moisture, mold and mildew buildup on both interior and exterior surfaces of your signs. This buildup helps to rapidly decrease the life of various components in the sign leading to higher costs of repair and maintenance services over the life of the sign.

signThese seven tips below can go a long way to extend the overall life of your signs, and reduce your future sign repair and maintenance expenses.

1. Clean both interior and exterior surfaces of your sign with the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning detergents or solvents. The sign will obviously have a brighter and clearer illumination once it is cleaned of all that built up mildew film and street/parking-lot grime.

2. While cleaning, carefully check for any cracks (even hairline cracks) or weaknesses in the sign faces that could possibly lead to a major problem down the road. Remember, it’s your brand that you are protecting. An ounce of prevention is well worth the cost. Chances are, even those hairline cracks will only get worse as temperatures change and the sign is exposed to the weather elements. Check with your sign manufacturer if cracks are found about replacement or for their proper repair recommendations.

3. Clean all interior wiring trays and clear all draining holes to ensure that any water or moisture buildup from driving rains or from normal condensation has a way to drain from the sign. Also don’t forget to inspect and replace if necessary all seals and gaskets for similar reasons.

4. Lubricate any moving parts of the sign such as hinges; remove any that are obviously rusted beyond use.

 5. Inspect and replace any old and defective fasteners that might have been stripped or show excessive wear and deterioration from usage both inside and outside the sign.

6. Inspect and test for any faulty electronic components in the sign such as ballasts, transformers and lamp sockets for proper performance to guard against future short circuiting that might occur. Also check for any corroded wiring and replace and repair as necessary.

7. Inspect, clean and replace any malfunctioning lamps. Keep in mind it may well be worth your while to replace all the lamps if some need replacement to ensure consistent lighting within the sign. Many lamps, especially florescent lamps (even if still working), tend to produce less light output as they age. This inequality of light output may make portions of the sign appear less brightly illuminated than other areas of the sign. Replacing all the lamps would also save on future lighting maintenance service costs, since the labor charges are already being incurred.

Adding these seven sign cleaning and inspection tips can increase the life and effectiveness of your facility signage. Not only will you save on maintenance and repair costs, but most importantly you’ll also be saving and protecting your brand image.

An experienced lighting and sign maintenance provider should be able to show you that the incremental cost to add a 7-point sign cleaning and repair inspection to your facilities’ lighting and sign maintenance program may pay you more dividends than you think.

— Lou DiDomenico is vice president of operations at Action Services Group, a national lighting maintenance, sign maintenance and electrical services company with headquarters in Aston, Pennsylvania. DiDomenico has more than a decade of experience overseeing the Action  Services Group’s service management and project management teams, and field technicians. Prior to joining Action Services Group he held senior project management positions at CertainTeed Corporation and at Thomas Technology. Email the author at [email protected].

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