How To Use Data-Driven Information For Your Commercial HVAC Preventative Maintenance Program

by | Commercial HVAC, Facility Maintenance, Facility Management, Preventative Maintenance

Retail Commercial HVACThe business of multi-location facilities and maintenance management isn’t easy. Juggling a slew of responsibilities while staying within the constraints of a budget can be quite the challenge.

More and more these days executives, directors and managers are being asked to do more with less, forcing them to make tough decisions about ways to cut costs while still maintaining the integrity of their locations.

Understandably, this is causing some to falsely believe eliminating their HVAC preventative maintenance program or neglecting their PM schedule will assist in achieving their long-term cost-cutting objectives.

While this theory may have a hint of validity in respect to saving money in the short term, postponing maintenance activities to meet budget goals has the potential to be extremely costly in the long run.

Whether you’re considering implementing a commercial HVAC preventative maintenance program within your company, or on the fence about how to move forward with your current program, this open whitepaper will explain how to develop and maintain a plan that is customized for your specific needs. The benefits will extend into helping your bottom line along with giving you peace of mind.

What is Commercial HVAC Preventative Maintenance?

Commercial HVAC Preventative Maintenance Program - Cost GraphPreventative maintenance is all about being proactive rather than reactive. Instead of dealing with the costs and repercussions of issues such as a major capital asset failure after they happen, you’re working to prevent those problems from occurring in the first place, or at the very least severely delay them.

Routine car maintenance is a great everyday analogy to highlight this mindset. Every few months you take your car to a mechanic to change your oil and rotate your tires. You do this to make sure you don’t burn out your engine or blow a tire.

This investment of your time and money in the short term can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in repairs down the line.  The same thought process holds true for your commercial HVAC assets.

Three Benefits To a Commercial HVAC Preventative Maintenance Plan

Asset Lifespan

Commercial HVAC Preventative Maintenance Program - Cost vs MaintenanceCommercial HVAC assets aren’t cheap. Moreover, they are critical components to keeping your customers and fellow employees comfortable and happy.  With that, the ultimate goal is to keep your equipment running for as long as possible.

Working against you is the natural wear and tear of mechanical operation. Belts and bearings wear down and filters clog up. These, along with other areas of wear and tear, lead to your commercial HVAC equipment having to work much harder and longer to create the same amount of heating and cooling.

The longer and harder the equipment has to work, the more the integrity of the equipment depletes.

Without proper maintenance, this perpetual and vicious cycle will continue until the equipment eventually burns out and fails; resulting in heating or cooling downtime along with the potential of costly repairs or replacements.

While it is impossible to completely avoid emergency repair situations, a commercial HVAC preventative maintenance program can pinpoint inefficiency issues or potential problems which could lead to failure. This gives you the opportunity to resolve a minor issue before it turns into a major (and very costly) one.

The process of regular “check-ups” and minor repairs could extend the life of your equipment anywhere between 8-15 years (depending on the equipment) adding up to thousands and thousands of dollars in savings over the long haul.

Improved Air Quality

Properly and consistently controlling internal environment variables means a happier, more comfortable customer and employee potentially leading to better customer experience and larger profits (especially for the retail industry). Air quality is one of the more important interval environment variables that need to be monitored and controlled.

According to the EPA, indoor air can sometimes be more polluted than ambient outdoor air. This is a frequent occurrence in situations where commercial HVAC assets have not been properly managed.

A commercial HVAC system is responsible for the air circulation and quality within an indoor atmosphere. Lack of proper maintenance can lead to dirty coils, filters and blower parts within a unit. This degradation paves the way for irritants such as pollen, bacteria, and fungi (mold is also a large issue in humid climates) to pollute the air.

Also very important to ensuring the integrity of your air quality – ventilation system maintenance.  Ventilation systems ensure the customers, employees, or tenants within your sites are breathing air with the proper amount of oxygen concentration.

If these systems are equipped with an HVAC economizer, they can also produce large cost savings – as much as a 20-30% drop in energy costs in some climates.

Although it has been found economizers can have failure rates up to 60%. This really drives home the importance of including them in your HVAC preventative maintenance program as they are frequently overlooked.

Commercial HVAC preventative maintenance programs can help not only ensure you are keeping those inside of your building safe, but it is also saving you money.

Energy Savings

Commercial HVAC Preventative Maintenance Program - Energy UsageAccording to the Building Efficiency Initiative, “Effective maintenance can reduce HVAC energy costs by 5 to 40 percent depending on the system or equipment involved.”

Your commercial HVAC system is a major contributing factor toward your overall energy bill over the course of the year. As natural wear and tear processes occur, inevitably the efficiency of the equipment begins to diminish.

As the system becomes less efficient, it must work harder to produce the same level of heating and cooling within the building, leading to an increase in energy demand.

An effective commercial HVAC preventative maintenance program, if followed consistently and correctly, will help maintain the efficiency of your equipment, saving you in utility costs over the course of the year.

Customized HVAC Preventative Maintenance Program

If you run a multi-site retail and restaurant operation, odds are (unless you’re very lucky) all of your locations don’t have the exact same HVAC assets/equipment, nor will those assets require the same maintenance and services.

Therefore, you need a commercial HVAC preventative maintenance program more robust than the typical “off-the shelf” or “run-of-the-mill” plan.

You need a program that’s customized for you – informed by the variables that are specific to your company and your budget.

Facility Management Asset Assessment

Whether you take the time to do it yourself, or you have your national HVAC service provider do it for you, conducting a facility management asset assessment is a crucial first step in creating a program tailored specifically for you. It also allows you keep track of every HVAC asset across the locations you manage. This assessment should be a complete high-level run through of your HVAC equipment foreach location. For each piece of equipment, you should log the following information at a minimum:

  • Type of equipment
  • Area served
  • Company make
  • Company Model
  • Serial number
  • Filters
  • Belts
  • Condition (at time of assessment)
  • Refrigerant type
  • Service and maintenance history

Make sure to consistently update and monitor the service/work order related portions of this list for each asset.

This “asset database” will become a heavily used resource in your toolbox for a variety of reasons but the data it houses will help serve as a baseline for your customized commercial HVAC preventative maintenance program.

Other Variables

A comprehensive maintenance program and agreement with your service provider should take into account the asset assessment data along with a few other variables critical to building a tailored solution.

Geography & Climate

The location and climate of the region an asset is housed can have a large impact on its efficiency and lifespan. The same piece of equipment located within two different geographical areas will likely run completely different and have to work against different location-specific climatological factors.

For example, a chiller located on the Florida coast needs to operate most of the year while battling hot, humid, salty air. Meanwhile, that same chiller located in Colorado may only need to operate 6 months out of the year in much drier conditions.

These variations, while seemingly small, can have a large impact on the wear and tear of a piece of equipment, thereby requiring you to adjust your maintenance needs.

Budget & Cadence

The dollar amount you’re allotted to spend on your commercial HVAC needs may require you to be crafty on how often you perform maintenance on each piece of equipment.

While a certain asset and its geographic location may require quarterly service to preserve and ensure its integrity, other assets in “friendlier” environments may only need a bi-annual check-up.

Each piece of equipment should be serviced bi-annually at a minimum. However, you may be able to get creative and find ways to shave off maintenance visits and costs to you and your company.

Choosing a National HVAC Service Provider

Truth About Commercial HVAC Preventative Maintenance ProgramWhen deciding on a commercial HVAC preventative maintenance provider, make sure to go with a company that has a wealth of experience in this arena.

An experienced national HVAC service provider will be able to look at and evaluate your HVAC asset list to help develop a customized program that fits you best. You’ll be able to lean on their expertise for advice and education when you need it.

Be sure you have the ability to stay in close, personal communication with them if needed (especially for multi-facilities managers).

Even with the advantage of work order software assisting with communications, being able to have a one-on-one conversation at any time is necessary. This will help keep you stay in the know concerning when HVAC preventative maintenance work will be performed, and any discoveries that are made for each asset.

Finally, while doing your research on a national HVAC service provider, ask about the depth of their maintenance services. Rather than just going through the motions of replacing filters and checking belts, you want a company that checks for, evaluates, and quickly quotes deficiencies within your systems. This will save plenty of time and frustration in between your scheduled checks.

About CMI Mechanical

Whether you are looking to kickstart a preventative maintenance program or if you simply would like a second opinion on the national HVAC service you are currently receiving, our mechanical HVAC expert team would be happy to share their over 100 years of combined facilities management and commercial HVAC experience with you.

At CMI Mechanical we provide nationwide HVAC and refrigeration services to some of the nation’s largest brands including PetCo, a top 10 department store, Rite Aid, and CVS Health, among others.

CMI Mechanical clients enjoy these benefits:

  • A dedicated one-point-of-contact CMI Mechanical account manager for all of their mechanical needs.
  • Unlimited access to our Mechanical Expert Team
  • On-site Mechanical Expert Team evaluations of their most problematic locations
  • 24/7/365 standby emergency services
  • A vast work order system integration partner network
Questions? Contact CMI Mechanical Today

We hope you found this guide to be a handy reference as you evaluate your HVAC/R preventative maintenance needs. If you’re tired of the typical, lackluster service you’re getting from your HVAC/R provider, or if you just want a second opinion, contact us at any time and experience The CMI Difference.

DoubleTree Hotel - CMI Mechanical Customer

They perform better than other mechanical businesses I have worked with.

Brian Wilske

General Manager, DoubleTree Hotel

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