Should you perform HVAC preventive maintenance?

If you’ve ever experienced a broken air conditioner on a particularly hot day, your answer to this question is probably a resounding yes. Moreso than feeling uncomfortable, though, performing preventive maintenance (PM) on HVAC systems is a matter of saving money and fulfilling a responsibility to tenants.

In general, preventive equipment maintenance is a good idea for buildings and facilities – catching issues quickly helps avoid any unnecessary damage and makes tenants’ lives simpler. Sometimes, though, building managers will shirk their maintenance plans, thinking that they can save some money by pushing repairs to a later date.

I like to think of this like the old boot example. Buy a pair of 10 dollar boots and you’ll replace those boots 10 or 15 times over. Buy 1 pair of 100 dollar boots and you’ll have them for decades.

HVAC systems are the same way: you can stay on top of repairs and perform regular maintenance, thus saving the cost of a new HVAC system, or push repairs off until the entire system breaks. At this point, you have to spend an enormous amount of money replacing the system, as well as depriving the residents of the building the ability to use the heating or air conditioning. In this way, the loss is twofold: you’ve lost money on the HVAC system, and you’ve lost some good faith with the residents (who definitely don’t want to brave 100 degree days without AC).

Obviously, a point will come when the HVAC system needs to be replaced. When this comes, you might feel as though any maintenance efforts have been wasted. I think you’ll find that the cost of maintaining an HVAC system over its lifetime ends up being far less expensive than replacing it every time it breaks catastrophically, though.

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