Why regular brise soleil maintenance is so important.

Posted by Tom Archer on 06/12/22 10:00

Strong winds and storms are becoming a more frequent feature of the autumn and winter weather patterns in the UK. External building features, such as brise soleil and other types of solar shading are being exposed to these more unpredictable elements - it is your duty as a building owner or operator to ensure your systems are well maintained.

However, brise soleil systems and typical architectural shading products are generally overlooked when considering inspections for damage after storms. BS EN 1991-1-4 gives design recommendations for calculating wind loads on buildings for structural purposes, advises that fatigue should be considered, but is not a guide to maintenance or inspection. However, under Health & Safety legislation, the building owner would be liable if a building component were to fall and injure someone. It is therefore incumbent on the owner to ensure the building is safe and to carry out inspection works to the fixings of external architecture to prevent wear and tear, check for vibration, corrosion, and fluctuations to the system which could cause fatigue and cracking.

The potential for property damage, personal injury and even fatalities could easily become a reality if service and maintenance is neglected. You must ensure you have a maintenance engineer you can trust. One who will check for galvanic corrosion or wear and tear and who will ensure that the installation hasn’t become loose or damaged from high winds.

Some examples of what can go wrong if you fail to maintain your brise soleil systems:

Faulty Brise Soleil Panels

Brise soleil systems are a common sight on many buildings in the UK. The building in the image above had a brise soleil system that had been poorly fixed. As a result, a 5-meter section weighing over 250kg came crashing down to the ground from the 12th floor. Thankfully and extraordinarily, no injuries were caused as a result of the incident. However, the story could so easily have been much more tragic.

After an inspection from Colt, fatigue of inadequate fixings was identified as the cause. Regular service and maintenance on these types of systems can help prevent system failures such as this and will improve safety for all those in proximity.

It is also not uncommon for louvre blades to become detached in the wind or after a snowstorm and to fall to the ground, causing damage to vehicles and endangering lives.

CROSS UK Report-2

As noted in a recent CROSS UK report, which can be accessed here, there was also recently an incident where, during high winds, a number of metal cladding panels failed and detached from a tall commercial building in a major UK city and fell to the ground.

Fortunately, no one was injured, but the incident could have caused serious injury or fatalities. The slotted holes for the fixings were very close to the edge of the panel and the panel material was relatively thin. The failed panels exhibited failure of the panel between the fixing hole and the edge as shown in the image on the right. 

Regular maintenance could have forewarned of this problem and prevented this from happening.

As we head into the winter months again, it is imperative that you get your brise soleil systems checked and serviced by a competent service provider to avoid any potential issues. Colt has been servicing installed external architectural solutions for almost 50 years and were the first to recognise the importance and customer benefit of having regular, scheduled checks, performed by our in-house professionals.

Colt can offer servicing, inspections and repairs to external architecture for all types of systems anywhere in the UK. Our engineers can access any building type using access machines or our team of IRATA Roped Access technicians. Once an inspection and photographic condition report has been issued by us, we can then recommend a programme of planned and preventative maintenance, replacing parts where necessary. Colt can provide this service on our own systems as well as systems provided by others.

Talk to us today if you need your brise soleil systems checked and serviced.

Topics: service, smoke control maintenance