Commercial HVAC Equipment

Why routine maintenance is so much better for your building’s systems than deferred maintenance

Tuesday, November 13 2018 3:08 PM
By Jon Goering

Buildings that make preventative maintenance a priority reduce their energy consumption by 15-20 percent.

Conducting routine maintenance on your heating and cooling systems is one of the most important things you can do for your building, its occupants, and your bottom line. However, sometimes it takes a change in mindset in order to accomplish that.

Simply put, avoiding maintenance now will end up costing you more down the road. End of story.

Think about it. Preventative maintenance is something we do in other areas of our lives without a second thought, such as to our vehicles, our homes, and our electronics. Would you drive your vehicle 100,000 miles and never change the oil? Of course not! The same goes for our homes. Would you live in a house for a decade and not once paint a wall, replace a light bulb, or seal a window? Unlikely!

Yet we do this with our heating and cooling systems, systems worth tens of thousands of dollars. Why? It’s due to many factors, but some of the more common answers we hear include costs and cosmetics. You have to spend real money to ensure your equipment runs properly – sometimes a lot – and maintenance budges aren’t always funded properly to handle these tasks. Plus, why sink money into a system that appears to be running smoothly?

The same goes for what’s visual. Making cosmetic changes to buildings can be seen by others. These changes are visually appealing and elicit far more positive comments than paying to have maintenance performed on equipment that nobody but the facility team sees. No one ever says, “Wow, thanks for tightening that fan belt and replacing that coil. We really noticed a difference!”

We understand your dilemma, but consider this. Experts say heating and cooling systems in commercial buildings consume more than 40 percent of the energy used. When you fail to maintain your system, it will only fail to operate as it was designed, consuming more energy as it ages and putting you at risk for a catastrophic breakdown.

For example, clogged filters don’t allow air to flow freely through them, causing your system to work harder. Bearings and belts that have not been properly greased and tightened become noisy and break. In closed-loop systems, particulates build up in chiller barrel tubes that have not been routinely cleaned, which reduces water flow and chiller efficiency.

Still not convinced? Consider this: buildings that make preventative maintenance a priority reduce their energy consumption by 15-20 percent. Imagine the savings, which you could then reinvest in building upgrades and improved amenities!

Here are just a few reasons why deferred maintenance is not preferred maintenance:

  1. Unwanted breakdowns. Equipment seldom breaks down when you are prepared. Sure, not spending money on maintenance saves you dollars for a time. But when your system suddenly fails – and it will – you are left scrambling to repair or replace a system, which leads to greater costs, not to mention the disruption to the people and processes in your building. Unwanted downtime, especially in critical applications such as healthcare or manufacturing facilities, can be devastating. Does routine maintenance guarantee you’ll never again have equipment failure? Of course not, only death and taxes are guaranteed. But the likelihood of a breakdown will be greatly reduced.   

  2. Equipment life. If you properly maintain heating and cooling systems, you should expect to get the projected life out of your investment, possibly more. But attempt to save a few dollars up front by neglecting routine maintenance and you’re likely shortening the life of your systems. It costs less to replace a system every 15 to 20 years with preventative maintenance included than replacing a system every 5 to 10 years without it!

  3. Mechanical = maintenance. Anything mechanical requires routine maintenance. If you maintain your system properly, it will operate the way it was designed. If not, expect to spend more money in energy costs over the life of the equipment. As we highlighted above, when your heating and cooling systems account for 40 percent of your energy use, inefficiencies really add up.

  4. Happy, healthy people. Arguably the most important reason to properly maintain your heating and cooling system involves the people in your building. Systems that have not been maintained will not operate as designed, which can have a negative effect on occupant comfort and health. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency sets standards for Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) through Section 608 of the Clean Air Act. Poor IAQ can lead to a host of health problems, including headaches, asthma, or worse. You don’t want to face a formal complaint or worse – a lawsuit – because someone in your building had health problems related to the poor air quality in your building because you failed to maintain the heating and cooling system.

 Like anything else in life, maintaining our assets involves cost, and heating and cooling systems are no different. If properly maintained, your system will operate more efficiently and last longer, saving you money in energy consumption and unwanted downtime. Plus, the people in your building will live, work, or play more comfortably. Sure, you can choose to defer maintenance to save a few dollars initially, hoping that your system will function as it was designed, but it’s a gamble. And who wants to run that risk?

For more information about creating a comprehensive, proactive maintenance plan for your buildings and facilities, please contact Jonathon Goering by email or phone at 316-265-9655.

Knipp Services is the authorized Trane and Mitsubishi Electric commercial sales representative for the regional market. We work with commercial and industrial building owners to lower operational expenses and increase building comfort. We provide services that enable owners to have high-performance buildings. “Making Buildings Better” sums up the mission statement of Knipp Services. We are here to serve you.

Jonathon Goering is the marketing leader at Knipp Services, a position he has held for nearly 20 years. A former radio personality and print journalist, today he enjoys marketing, blogging, and increasing customer satisfaction in the commercial heating and cooling world.  

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Sources:

Knipp Services – How preventative maintenance can lead to huge savings in commercial buildings

Crockett Facilities Services – The Issues with Deferred Maintenance of Commercial HVAC Systems

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