Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) is a vital component of all buildings and it requires regular maintenance like all other appliances or systems installed. If maintenance is not carried out properly, your system could lose 5% of its efficiency every year!
Most HVAC service providers suggest getting your system inspected and tuned twice a year. Once before the fall when you turn the heating on and once in the spring before you turn the cooling on.
Let’s take a look at why regular preventive maintenance of your HVAC system is so important, what factors do you need to consider and what tasks need to be carried out. Finally, we’ll look at a maintenance guide to help you through the entire HVAC preventive maintenance process.
Why is HVAC Preventive Maintenance Important?
The benefits of maintaining HVAC systems go far beyond the convenience they have to offer. Let’s take a closer look at these.
Lower energy costs
When your HVAC system is in a good condition it runs more efficiently and requires less energy to operate. This in turn slashes down your energy bills. When your HVAC system is not serviced regularly, it needs to work overtime to produce the same amount of heating and cooling. To do so, it pulls in more energy and hence costs you more.
Reduced repair costs
A well maintained HVAC system is less likely to have emergency breakdowns resulting in unplanned downtime. Carrying out HVAC Preventive Maintenance on your system ensures that issues are identified and rectified while they are still small and manageable. This keeps them from getting bigger and turning into costly repairs or eventual replacement.
Fewer Emergency Repairs
As a Property Maintenance manager, it’s needless to say that emergency repairs can put a real strain on your existing scheduled maintenance tasks. This means you would need to attend to an emergency repair first and defer a scheduled maintenance work. Preventive Maintenance can identify issues before they happen and thus ends up in fewer emergency repairs.
Directly related to energy efficiency, a HVAC system that is regularly maintained helps mother nature. It burns less energy to run and thus produces less carbon emissions. This helps conserve electricity and contributes towards saving the planet.
Higher life span of your system
Routine Preventive Maintenance ensures that you are adding more years to the life of your HVAC system. More issues and breakdowns reduces your system’s life and the need to get it replaced will arrive sooner than you like. Preventive Maintenance will keep your system as good as new for a longer period of time.
Health and safety
Mould and dust regularly cleaned off your HVAC system ensures better air quality for the occupants. This is especially helpful for those who might have allergies or breathing illnesses such as asthma.
It also makes your system safer to run on the premises. As with all electrical equipment, short circuits are common. Fixing them on time can avoid potential fires.
Spring and Summer Maintenance Tasks
Spring is a great time to take a closer look at your air conditioning system, before you put it to full-time work as the season turns in the coming weeks.
Here is a checklist for you to follow when carrying out spring/summer preventive maintenance for your HVAC:
- Clean or replace filters as needed.
- Check the condenser and make sure the evaporator coil is free of dirt.
- Inspect for possible blockage in the drain lines to allow free flow.
- Replace worn out parts such as belts.
- Check for mould build up.
- Check thermostat controls, humidity levels and timer.
- Inspect moving parts such as fan motor, pulleys, bearings etc and lubricate where necessary.
- Replace batteries and check all electrical connections.
- Check the cabinet for possible leaks and see if its door is closing securely.
- Clean the outer unit.
Fall and Winter Maintenance Tasks
Just like spring/summer HVAC preventive maintenance is vital for keeping your property cool, fall/winter preventive maintenance helps keep the furnace running.
Here is a checklist for you to follow when carrying out fall/winter Preventive Maintenance for your HVAC:
- Replace the heating equipment filters. Ideally, this should be done every 3 months.
- Make sure the ignition burner assembly and other heating elements and heat exchanger are working flawlessly.
- Check for gas pressure and possible leakage from any of the components.
- Examine all moving parts and lubricate as needed.
- Make sure the drain line is clear of any foreign particles and the pan doesn’t have any standing water that might overflow.
- Inspect the heat pump.
- Check the thermostat and other controls.
- Check the wiring of all electrical connections.
- Examine the flue system for possible issues.
- Check fan, blower, ducts and vents.
HVAC Maintenance Guide
Besides the above mentioned spring and fall maintenance tasks, there are certain guidelines that you need to follow:
A Preventive Maintenance schedule is the key to keep your HVAC system running smoothly round the year. Scheduling planned maintenance and following through minor fixes ensures that you are always ahead of your maintenance work. To plan ahead you need to carry out regular inspections as per the seasonal checklist.
Planning ahead is not restricted to the kind of maintenance that needs to be carried out but also laying out the budget for it, who will do it and when. This ensures all resources are available when needed.
Hire a Professional
HVAC Preventive maintenance is extremely technical and you need to get a licensed and qualified processional to carry it out correctly. They will also ensure that all work is carried out according to the building codes and standards and the system does not pose any health or safety threat to the occupants.
While a professional will help you fix the problem or carry out HVAC Preventive Maintenance, as a property owner/occupant or facility manager you must be vigil about things that can go wrong.
Consider the below as some important rules to follow when taking care of your HVAC system.
Replace filters every 3 months at least. While this may sound like a big expense, it will save you lots more in reduced energy bills. It will also save your system from working harder than it needs to.
Checking refrigerant lines monthly
Refrigerant lines are the ones that lead from the HVAC system to your home. These are prone to leakages due to outside factors. Keeping a close eye on these lines ensures that occupants enjoy the desired temperature all the time.
Turn off water supplied to furnace humidifier
Humidifiers are not used in the summertime, so the water supplied to them should be turned off. They then need to be turned on before the start of winter after replacing the filter. Once you have set the desired humidity level, only then the water supplied should be turned on again.
Keep checking carbon monoxide detector
Carbon Monoxide is a silent killer. Make sure they are in good working order. Their batteries should be replaced every 6 months to ensure they are working properly and the occupants are safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Factors to consider when making an HVAC maintenance plan
An HVAC preventive maintenance plan is the yearly or bi-yearly plan to clean, inspect and otherwise maintain your HVAC system. While different HVAC suppliers offer different maintenance plans, as a facility manager you need to set your own goals in terms of cost, resources and prioritisation.
Here are some of the factors that you should be looking at:
Frequency of maintenance
To keep your HVAC system in good condition, getting it inspected and serviced twice a year should be enough. However, certain maintenance work such as replacing filters or lubricating moving parts might need to be done more frequently. When making HVAC maintenance plan, take into consideration how often each preventive maintenance task needs to be done and schedule it accordingly.
Preventive Maintenance will ensure that your unplanned emergency repairs do not throw you off your budget train. What exactly this budget should look like, is a question to ponder. Gather your past repair and maintenance invoices to get an estimate of your future HVAC preventive maintenance costs. Also, set aside an emergency fund for unforeseen repairs due to outside factors.
This includes technicians or HVAC service providers, facility managers, operations staff, and design engineers. It is crucial that the right people are available to look after the preventive maintenance tasks and ensure all work is being done as per the plan.
A key factor when making a HVAC Preventive Maintenance plan is to ensure that schedules for routine and emergency repairs and maintenance are not disturbed. Additionally, facility managers need to assign a priority level to all the Preventive Maintenance tasks. Tasks that are critical to keeping the system running smoothly should be given higher priority. This should be followed by tasks carried out to enhance efficiency of the system.
Once you have a thorough understanding of what needs to be done, at what interval and priority level and who needs to do it, you can schedule everything in a CMMS.
A good Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) helps you build a complete HVAC Preventive Maintenance program. It will include history of inspections, work orders completed, repairs and replacements, technician details and costs incurred.
The more information you are able to record and maintain the better you are able to make decisions that can help your company’s bottomline.
How to decide which maintenance plan is best for you
Property occupants might ask for fast service, quality work and low price. However, as a maintenance manager it might not be possible to give everything to your occupants. The key is to set the priorities straight when deciding which maintenance plan works best for your properties.
If you are doing regular HVAC Preventive Maintenance, you can rest assured that there will be no emergency repair calls from property occupants. Still, you need to make sure that the service provider you choose attends to your properties as per the scheduled maintenance plan. To do so, look for providers that have more staff and an extensive fleet so they are available when you need them.
Nothing beats good standards. While poor quality work requires you to attend to it over and over, quality work done ensures there are no repeat calls ever. This means more satisfied customers and a higher retention rate.
While landlords might be interested in getting cheaper quotes, beware that if they are too low by comparison the quality might get compromised. Your HVAC technician might cut corners by neglecting some steps in your Preventive Maintenance plan or use an inferior quality piece of equipment to give you a quick and cheap fix.
Warranties and insurances give you the peace of mind that you won’t have to go over your budget in case your HVAC system starts to show any problem. A service provider that has a good understanding and experience working with different makes and models, is likely to offer you that kind of protection.
A service provider that promises to check all the boxes in your HVAC maintenance checklist is a good start. In order for your heating and cooling systems to operate flawlessly, take a look at what services are included in the plan and how frequently they will be carried out. This can help you compare plans and decide which one works best for you.
Flexible plan options
Consider the payment options different providers are offering. Ask yourself if a fixed yearly plan fits your budget or a pay-as-you-go plan is better? This will give you more versatility when choosing the best plan.
Preventive Maintenance helps you save more with a significantly less investment than what you may incur in case of breakdowns.
i4T Maintenance offers state-of-the-art CMMS solutions that can help you build and manage a comprehensive HVAC maintenance management program. Now you can stay on top of your maintenance work and empower your teams with more insights for better decision making.