Summer Maintenance Projects

A School Project Means Something Different If You’re Part of the Maintenance Team.

Written by
The Part Works
Published on
June 18, 2024 at 1:09:41 PM PDT June 18, 2024 at 1:09:41 PM PDTth, June 18, 2024 at 1:09:41 PM PDT

When it comes to keeping our schools running smoothly, reliable plumbing often goes unnoticed. But when the kids kick the flush valve handles or ride on the partition doors, it’s on the maintenance team to repair everything. School facility managers are all too familiar with the unique challenges of maintaining a school's plumbing system. In this blog post, we'll delve into these difficulties, explore the timing of funding options like end-of-biennium versus the beginning of biennium project dollars and ESSER III ARP funds, and discuss strategies for planning successful plumbing maintenance projects for the upcoming school year.

Challenges of School Plumbing Maintenance

• High Usage and Wear-and-Tear: Schools see

a constant flow of students and staff throughout the day, putting a tremendous strain on plumbing fixtures and accessories. Students are notoriously hard on equipment, often intentionally. This heavy usage can lead to clogs, leaks, and broken components much faster than in a typical building.

• Aging Infrastructure: Many schools were built decades ago, meaning their plumbing systems may be nearing the end of their lifespan. Outdated materials and aging pipes are more susceptible to corrosion, cracks, and failure.

• Limited Budgets: School budgets are often stretched thin, making it difficult to allocate sufficient funds for proactive maintenance. Plumbing problems often go unaddressed until they become major issues, leading to costly repairs and disruptions.

• Hidden Cost of Goods: One hidden cost is deviating from that building’s facility specification. It’s tempting to buy replacements that don’t match the original but come at a lower cost. What gets lost is the exorbitant labor cost to train in, stock for, and maintain multiple products throughout a building. Mismatched faucets, for example, don’t just look tacky; they require repair parts for each installed faucet, and service techs and plumbers must be familiar with the identification and repair procedures for each of them.

Funding Options for School Plumbing Projects

• End-of-Biennium Project Dollars: These are the “use it or lose it” funds at the end of a two-year budget cycle and can be used for various maintenance projects, including plumbing upgrades. Carefully plan and prioritize plumbing needs to leverage these often time-sensitive funds.

• Beginning-of-Biennium Product Dollars: If your previous biennium dollars have already been spent, it’s time to plan for next year’s budget. With the lowered labor in the field, take this time to prepare your needs once the new fiscal year starts. 

• ESSER III ARP Funds: The American Rescue Plan (ARP) provided schools with ESSER III funds to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. A portion of these funds can be used for school facility improvements, including plumbing projects that enhance health and safety in the school environment. The last of these funds expires on September 30th, 2024.

Planning for Next Fiscal Year's Plumbing Projects

• Conduct a Thorough Plumbing System

Inspection: Identify potential problems early to prevent costly emergencies. Schedule regular inspections by a qualified plumber to assess the condition of pipes, fixtures, and valves.

• Prioritize Projects: Not all plumbing issues are created equal. Address critical repairs that pose a health or safety risk first. Develop a multi-year plan to tackle less urgent upgrades over time.

• Consider KCDA Contract Pricing: The King County Directors’ Association (KCDA) offers pre-negotiated contracts with qualified vendors for various school maintenance products, including plumbing. Utilizing KCDA contracts can streamline the procurement process and potentially lead to cost savings.


Proactive planning and strategic use of available funding are crucial for tackling school plumbing challenges. By addressing these issues head-on, school facility managers can ensure students and staff a safe and healthy learning environment. Summer is an important season for school maintenance, fraught with critical financing timing and short windows to do major projects. 

Check out this month's Featured Items to help kick off your summer maintenance projects!