Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems aren’t just machines. They are intricate organisms, threading through your building and creating the perfect environment for work, learning or living. We like to think that HVAC systems are actually more like the human body. Each system has its own set of systems, all dependant on one another and carefully in balance, and all need taking care of. If you avoid the dentist for years, eventually you’ll get a cavity and have to go for a long and expensive procedure – the same goes for your HVAC systems! The equivalent of a dentist for HVAC systems is planned preventative maintenance, and today we want to explain what that looks like, and why you need to invest in it for your commercial properties.
What is HVAC Maintenance?
The systems that keep a building running are the key to maintaining a healthy and comfortable environment inside, and in this case that is the HVAC systems. HVAC (which stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning) are an essential part of creating comfortable living and working environments. Each unit and system varies depending on the size and nature of the building and your requirements – with some being relatively simple others incredibly complex and intricate. Their size can also vary from very small units for individual offices to huge machines and industrial heat pumps designed for large factories, office buildings or schools. But they are machines, and just like any other they require periodic maintenance to ensure they are working at maximum efficiency and won’t break down. If your HVAC systems aren’t regularly maintained, then you could end up spending much more on running costs as parts become dirty, clogged or damaged, and face a much bigger bill if the system fails (not to mention any damage to your building and loss of earnings). So we always recommend bringing in a professional to run more comprehensive checks and perform any tweaks or repairs the machines may need.
Why Invest in Preventative Maintenance?
When it comes to preventive HVAC maintenance, you should think of it in the same way as you do maintenance on your car. If you don’t change the oil, replace the belts and filters before they start to wear and damage and keep it running effectively then the car won’t run. But instead of waiting for the parts to fail and ending up without a car while you wait to replace them, taking steps to repair and replace them before that stage saves you time, money and stress.
Like any electrical and filtration systems, regular maintenance includes cleaning, topping up any fluids or other components and carrying out safety checks to ensure none of the elements are faulty. This can prevent catastrophic failures down the line that could otherwise lead to fires or gas leak problems, putting the lives of your tenants at risk. A well-maintained HVAC system keeps your air clean, improves the life of the system itself and keeps it running efficiently.
Some of the benefits of investing in preventative maintenance include:
- Lower running costs: Components within machines can wear down, get damaged and eventually fail. This can take time, and there are usually warning signs along the way. One of those is an increase in running costs, as the system has to work harder to compensate for the damaged component. The more components that are damaged, the higher your running costs will be. Regular maintenance allows you to catch issues before they have a chance to cause problems, keeping your running costs down.
- Extend the life of your system: HVAC systems aren’t cheap, so you want to make it last as long as possible. Repairing or replacing individual components as they begin to fail is much more cost-effective, and means you can extend the life of your HVAC system for many years.
- Improve air quality & comfort: Regular maintenance helps your system produce and distribute the warm or cool air more steadily, reducing hot or cold spots and generally making sure your system is working as efficiently as possible. Regular cleaning can also dramatically improve your indoor air quality, which is a huge benefit for office blocks.
- Ensure safety: If something goes wrong in your HVAC system, the consequences can potentially be huge. We’ve been called out to buildings that have been flooded by their HVAC system because it wasn’t properly maintained for several years, and this resulted in the whole building having to be closed and refurbished. Not only was this expensive, but it was also dangerous for anyone working or living in the building. Regular maintenance and safety checks means you can always be sure everyone in your building is safe.
Does Preventative Maintenance Work?
Here’s the kicker. Preventative maintenance does work, but only if the recommendations of technicians are followed and the remedial work is carried out quickly. All too often we’ve seen customers who have had quotes and assessments done for planned maintenance, but they never actually did the work. Instead they treated it as a list of things they needed to keep an eye on. The problem with that approach is we recommend preventative maintenance is done to extend the life of your components and keep everything running smoothly. If you wait until something has started to fail, then it’s already too late, and will cost you more in the long run.
Many companies and property managers still operate a ‘reactive maintenance’ model, where they wait for things to go wrong before they have repair work done, rather than scheduling regular cleaning and maintenance checks throughout the year. The downside to this reactive approach is that a repair on a big failure, or just a full deep clean, can cost you far more than regularly scheduled check-ups. Not only does it cost you more in ongoing running costs as things fail, but your system failing could result in a huge bill for a replacement. By scheduling regular air conditioning check-ups, you can catch and replace failing parts in a staggered way, before they cause problems, and prolong the life of your components.
The good news is that ongoing HVAC maintenance isn’t an expensive outlay for you, unlike the cost of replacing a full unit. While the cost of replacing a complete system can run into the thousands, maintenance of that system will cost a fraction of that and keep your buildings in working order for longer. Not only that, but there is some evidence to suggest that well run HVAC systems could actually save you money in terms of energy and electricity used by your building. By investing in regular maintenance for your HVAC systems you are ensuring lower pay outs for repairs, reducing your emergency call outs (and their charges) and providing a cleaner, more comfortable environment for your tenants. For advice or help with your long-term HVAC maintenance plan, get in touch with the team today to book your free consultation.