Feature Article - February 2011
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Maintenance Series: Gymnasiums

Beauty and the Beast: Maintaining Your Gym

By Dawn Klingensmith

Set, Spike

From a safety standpoint, another maintenance and operation issue that causes Warner some concern is the storage and installation of volleyball equipment. "It's almost always students setting it up. They put it in the fittings in the floor and then throw it in a closet or on a cart when they're done, so it gets banged up," he said.

"Almost all volleyball systems are made out of aluminum nowadays," he added, so they're prone to damage.

Moreover, volleyball players generally prefer to play with extreme tension on the net, which flexes the poles. "This can lead to catastrophic failure if a steel cable lets go," Warner said. "Someone could really get injured."

Sports Facilities Group and other companies will include volleyball equipment in their gymnasium inspections.

Gym wall padding starts to break down before the obvious signs of deterioration, such as sagging vinyl and bunched-up foam. Replacing padding "is almost always addressed as an aesthetic issue—someone just decides it's too ugly to leave up there," Warner said.

But gym padding is not installed because it's pretty. It's intended to protect athletes, and when it starts breaking down, it's not offering the same level of protection. A wall pad maintenance checklist includes inspecting all pads to ensure they are tightly fastened; securing loose pads; repairing tears and rips immediately to prevent further damage; and cleaning pads with a mild detergent and water or a vinyl cleaner, or in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.

Keeping Records

Gymnasiums are places where people go to have fun and stay in shape. So it's ironic when owners and managers don't do whatever it takes to keep the facility itself in shape. It might be easier, perhaps, if maintenance staff were to keep a "written plan of action," Arrowsmith said.

"Have a set schedule and a calendar to keep track of what you've done and what needs to be done," he advised. "You should have a specific time of year or day of the month or week when you should be doing things."

Because certain maintenance duties are performed once every two or three years, Arrowsmith also recommended keeping a database of contractors who have met or exceeded your expectations in the past.

That way, when you need expertise or elbow grease to get a job done, you'll have a roster of winners on hand.