Special guest blogger: Chris Boehm, Commercial Maintenance Agreement Specialist
Ok, we admit it’s the truth. There isn’t a less sexy industry catch phrase then “Preventive Maintenance”. It’s not part of the mainstream lingo like “green energy” or high tech like
“web based fully automated direct digital controls”. It’s not considered a hot button the likes of “Energy Efficiency” or “Total Building System Audits” which are centerpiece topics at various events and conferences throughout the world. However a Preventive Maintenance Program designed exclusively for your HVAC equipment is critical to the success of every green initiative and building automation system while improving overall energy savings. Equipment efficiency is directly correlated to proper maintenance and commences with the thorough inspection and monitoring of building equipment.
What can a maintenance plan do for your building?
A proper maintenance program will lower operating costs and extend the life cycle of all equipment, regardless of age. In addition, maintenance isn’t expensive compared to what you might need to spend if your system experiences a major failure. As an example, let’s assume a rooftop unit installed for an overall cost of $15,000.00. A quarterly maintenance program including but not limited to replacement filters, belts and chemical washing of the condenser coil would be valued annually at approximately 5-10% the cost of the original installation. If this system was not maintained and clogged air filters or a broken belt resulted in a compressor failure, the replacement component cost (material and labor) may exceed $6,000.00. Furthermore, when equipment isn’t inspected and maintained, its efficiency and life expectancy may be reduced by up to 50%. In the above example, if a properly maintained rooftop unit has an industry standard life span of 15 years a neglected unit may require replacement in 7-10 years. This translates into a large capital expense sooner then expected which could be easily avoided, not to mention equipment downtime that negatively impacts building occupants. Remember, the word preventive speaks for itself. It keeps things from happening.
So why don’t more buildings have a maintenance plan in place?
If it’s generally accepted that proper maintenance and inspections reduce equipment failures, save energy, improve efficiency and reduce operating/capital budgets why is it still considered optional or at best a necessary evil to some owners/managers? It’s certainly understandable in these tough economic times to reduce operating and capital budgets in all facets of a business. However, as noted above, preventive maintenance is relatively inexpensive when compared to the potential failures that may occur. It’s the old “pay now or pay later” scenario. There are numerous reasons/excuses to defer equipment maintenance. One is that the work will be performed by in-house personnel. If the mechanics/facility personnel are trained with the knowledge to service the building systems this may be a viable option. However, our experiences have shown that often that’s not the case and/or the maintenance schedule isn’t followed as per unit manufacturer recommendations. When a qualified contractor like Oliver Mechanical is involved, the work is scheduled on time and is completed by highly trained technicians. A second reason given to defer maintenance is that prospective clients feel they don’t have sufficient finances to enter into a preventative maintenance agreement. The Oliver Commercial team is trained to listen, educate, understand our client’s needs and work to tailor a maintenance plan to fit nearly every budget.
In today’s economy, energy bills continue to rise each year and investments as costly and critical as HVAC systems must be given priority to ensure marketability of your property. It’s important to understand that even a limited inspection plan is critical to maintaining proper equipment operation and energy efficiency. Please keep in mind that by deferring preventive maintenance, all other building systems that are implemented to reduce energy costs will be compromised to varying degrees. A preventive maintenance plan properly structured to equipment needs is low cost insurance against critical failures and downtime. Oliver Mechanical is ready to serve with regard to all mechanical aspects of your organization. Together, we will assist you, our valued client, to achieve optimum building efficiency while working within the parameters of your budget.