An exceptional mechanical room shares a front of house mindset

Mechanical rooms are the beating heart of a commercial office building and even though they are behind the scenes, they need the same care and attention as the front of house

The mechanical rooms are the beating heart of a commercial building. It’s where most, if not all, of the building’s mechanical equipment is centered. Air handlers; boilers; chillers; heat exchangers; water heaters, tanks and pumps; back-up generators; even elevator machinery can all be found in these rooms. It’s the heart of the building and where all the main pipes and valves are situated to control heat, water and air through the building. It’s also where the building’s life safety system is often housed.


Even with modern digital control systems to manage HVAC, life safety, and lighting, the mechanical room has the potential to be a dank, dark, dirty place. It shouldn’t be because even if it is off limits to tenants and the public, it’s still a working area of the building and the appearance of mechanical rooms can be a sign of how your office building is being maintained.

With this in mind, and because it’s time to prep for winter, here are some simple do’s and don’ts of mechanical room management:

  • DON’T treat the mechanical room as extra storage space. There are typically city codes regulating workspace in mechanical rooms but even if there aren’t its bad practice, both for employee and fire safety, to use rooms with vital machinery as storage areas. Always provide good access to mechanical systems and other machinery. Most codes require at least 3 feet clearance in front of electrical panels, for instance.
  • DO create storage somewhere in the building, where there is no machinery, so you can keep the mechanical room for purpose.
  • DON’T keep highly combustible items such as paint or fuel in the mechanical room. It’s against code in California anyway but common sense should tell you this is never a good idea. Hazardous materials should be stored securely away from any machinery.
  • DO always check local building codes for additional regulations regarding mechanical rooms. Codes change periodically so staying on top of industry best practices and regulations is a must.
  • DON’T think that because your mechanical room is out of sight, it should be out of your mind, or anyone else’s. Approach it with the same care and attention you give to the front of house. You don’t want the mechanical room in your building to be like this.
  • DO keep the room at least broom-clean at all times. Machinery, however clean, can disturb dirt and dust tracked into the room by workers in the normal course of the day. Keeping the room free of as much dust and dirt as possible will not only prolong the life of vital machinery in that room, it will improve overall quality and shows a sense of pride in your work areas.

Property managers take pride in the way their buildings look, inside and out. The mechanical room should be no exception. It doesn’t have to be as spotless as a clean room, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt if it was.

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