Tips on Maintainance for Aluminum Bleachers to Preserve the Memories that Go with Them
By Gerald Dlubala
Approaching the field, the lights tower overhead like sprawling, illuminated trees over a grass meadow, with the aluminum bleachers providing a reflective canvas of pinks, blues, oranges and greys of the sunset.
It’s a serene setting before the raucous storm of cheering, yelling, bands playing and whistles blowing. And as the skies relax into the sunset, the field and reflective aluminum of the bleachers transition into a highly polished, meticulously laid out and marked playing grid, divided, measured, and striped in straight lines and sharp angles.
Those same hard lines and sharp angles are reflected in the polished, structured, aluminum bleachers that are positioned along both sides of the field.
Aluminum bleachers are a place where memories are made: Lasting, important memories that are talked about for years to come. You have a responsibility to see to it that the bleachers are safe, reliable, IBC compliant, and updated to reflect any updated accessibility guidelines from local, state, or federal authorities.
Inspect and improve your aluminum bleachers
Perform bleachers inspections on a regular schedule as part of your preventative maintenance program. Our laws usually require inspections anyway, but by performing annual bleacher inspections you can also keep warranties intact and uncover potential problem areas ahead of serious damage. Fix the problems before they become a disruption at an important event.
- Look for any obvious signs of disrepair. Some parts are easy to check on a regular basis. Hand and guardrails, end rails, rails going up the stairs should be solid with no wobble or loose connections. A wobbly rail may just need tightening, but might also point to corrosion or breakage at connection points.
- If your bleachers include electrical components, inspect any junction boxes, harnesses, switches, wiring and conduit for signs of damage, excessive wear, or corrosion. Make sure moving parts and motorized functions include the proper guards, covers, and fuses.
Other than their intended use, your bleachers will be home to climbers, stompers, runners, and amateur parkour enthusiasts. The structure and integrity of your bleachers demand attention to detail.
- Check the frames, joints and braces for stress cracked or broken welds.
- Inspect main supports and uprights, as well as the decking and adjoining end caps and panels.
- Inspect seating, seat backs where applicable, the bottom edge of seats and any other spots that will be in contact with users for sharp edges, gouges in surfaces, or uneven and mismatched connections. The seating and surroundings should be as comfortable as possible, with no room for sharp edges or other injury hazards.
- Similarly, the floorboards, planks and risers need to be checked for weak or rough spots, and damage.
- If the bleachers are movable, wheels and included moving mechanisms must all be kept in proper working condition. Replace worn wheels and axles when needed.
- All moving parts, whether mechanically or manually operated need quality lubrication. Your bleachers will be exposed to the extremes of our constantly changing weather patterns. The right type and amount of lubrication will keep these parts moving as intended, and also help the parts last longer. This applies to all friction-based parts, like latches, gates, locks, chains, etc.
- Plan and stick to a program to build an emergency fund to be used for any major repairs that spring up, or to be available should the bleachers need total or partial replacement. This is very important for unplanned emergency replacement or major repair situations.
Pay attention to the extras to increase safety
Going that little extra in the care, use and setup of your bleachers can mean a world of difference to those that will be using them. Why not keep them in the best possible condition by attending to some additional details.
- Bleacher installation should be situated as to provide a pleasurable viewing experience while being a reasonable distance from the field to deter accidental injuries from gameplay.
- Along with being well lit, all steps, walkways, and access or hazard points should be clearly and visibly marked to draw attention. Consider illumination, reflective material or markings, or brightly colored striping to highlight areas of concern.
- Use non-slip material to keep your bleacher walkways and stairs safe and skid resistant in all weather, including inclement, precipitation-producing situations.
- Provide seat covers for the bleachers. They’re available in colors that will match your school and team colors, and enhance the seating comfort and the overall atmosphere of your home field.
- Keep them clean. Regularly clean the seating surfaces and walking planks, as well as cleaning underneath the bleachers, where trash and other discarded objects can accumulate. Your bleachers are your home seating, and you are inviting friends to come in. No one wants to sit in or on a dirty bleacher, so always provide a clean place for your guests.
- Family and friends shouldn’t be excluded from enjoying life’s moments because of accessibility limitations or concerns. By regularly revisiting ADA accessibility options, manufacturers recommendations and safety updates, and monitoring local, state, and federal guidelines to insure ADA accessibility and IBC compliance, you can be confident that your bleachers will be inviting for every occasion.
- Temporary or movable bleachers should always be installed and/or moved by properly trained personnel, according to manufacturers instructions, and be made to be secure and safe for public use.
Bleacher maintenance and safety helps everyone
Our lives become filled with snapshots of memories and life events centering on our family, friends, and children. Many of these moments are made and witnessed while seated in the aluminum bleachers at local events.
By keeping your bleachers in top-notch working order with proper preventative maintenance and timely inspections and repairs, you can guarantee that the memories made in your bleachers are remembered for many generations.
Those in attendance will feel more safe and secure by simply stepping and walking on solidly constructed, properly installed, and well cared for bleachers.
You are telling those in attendance that you consider them important. But by keeping those bleachers in safe condition, you are also protecting yourself from unfortunate accidents while maintaining your seating investment for the long term. And that’s a situation where both sides win.
Here is a video on a quality aluminum bleacher installation – https://youtu.be/RKecsm2yCdI