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Commercial Air Conditioning, Commercial HVAC, Preventive Maintenance Agreements

Managing HVAC Maintenance Costs: A Guide for Facilities Managers

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Last Updated on April 2, 2019


hvac maintenance costs

Are HVAC maintenance costs breaking your facilities budget?

For commercial facilities, your operations and maintenance budget must accommodate both planned and unplanned expenses. When it comes to your HVAC systems, does it seem like the unplanned expenses are getting out of control? That can include emergency repairs and having to replace failed equipment that you thought would last longer.

The good news is, there is a simple and effective way to control those unexpected HVAC maintenance costs: with proactive planning and regular preventative maintenance.

The easiest way to reduce your HVAC maintenance costs

You might assume that you can’t avoid emergency repairs and replacements. But the truth is, you CAN prevent breakdowns and lower HVAC maintenance costs with routine preventative maintenance. Keeping your equipment in optimal condition prevents deterioration of parts and prevents small problems from turning into big problems that cause system failure.

Here’s an example: cleaning air conditioner condenser coils.
This task should be done at least yearly as part of a preventative maintenance plan. If you don’t clean your condenser coils, they get caked with dirt and grime. Especially in New York City, it doesn’t take long for that to happen. After a while, the coils can no longer do their job of releasing heat. Eventually the system overheats and causes the compressor to fail.

In many cases, this is a death sentence for your air conditioner. That’s a big expense that could have been easily prevented with planned maintenance.

Reducing emergency HVAC maintenance costs for repairs and replacements is just one way you save money with planned maintenance. You can also reduce energy expenses. You may be surprised at just how much you can save.

Here’s how that works. When your air conditioner coils are dirty, or the filters are clogged, or it has a small refrigerant leak (or a host of other minor problems that you won’t notice at first), the system has to run longer to reach set temperature. That means it uses more electricity.

When you get regular planned maintenance, all those small problems are taken care of. Your systems stay in top condition, they run less and use less power. That has a noticeable impact on your electricity costs in addition to your HVAC maintenance costs.

What is HVAC preventative maintenance?

Preventative maintenance, also called planned maintenance, is all about keeping your system performing optimally. Here’s what preventative maintenance should include:

Inspection and testing
Check air flow
Check condition of belts and pulleys
Check AC refrigerant charge and inspect for leaks if charge is low
Check furnace ignition and burner assembly
Check heat exchanger
Check electrical connections
Check operation of fans and blower motors
Check operation of thermostats and controls

Tuneup & proactive fixes
Replace filters
Replace any worn or failing parts
Lubricate motors, bearings, and other moving parts

Clean evaporator and condenser coils
Replace filters
Clean drain lines and pans

Preventative HVAC system maintenance costs

You’re probably wondering about the HVAC yearly maintenance cost compared to what you’ll save on repairs and replacements. Is it worth the money?

It’s true that we are a little biased here, but I can tell you that decades of experience have shown that you will definitely reduce your HVAC maintenance costs with planned maintenance.

Here’s something else you need to know. There are different types of maintenance contracts and the costs can vary quite a bit depending on what’s covered. Here’s another article that explains the difference between different types of contracts and shows you how to do the math to compare what you’re getting for the price: How Much Does HVAC Maintenance Cost?

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Planning for HVAC equipment replacement

Another important strategy for controlling HVAC maintenance costs, in addition to avoiding problems with preventative maintenance, is planning for equipment replacement costs.

Commercial systems can last 20 years or more when properly maintained. However, no piece of equipment lasts forever. Here’s what you may not realize: you can save money by proactively replacing equipment that’s nearing the end of its life (rather than waiting for it to fail).

Here’s why:

  • When you have an emergency breakdown, you have to act immediately and you don’t have time to shop around for the best deal.
  • You may pay more for installation in an emergency, due to the need to get the new equipment up and running fast.
  • When you upgrade to new, more efficient systems, you also reduce your energy costs sooner.

That’s not even considering the possibility of lost business or work productivity, which can easily happen when systems fail unexpectedly.

Another benefit to keep in mind: when you proactively replace aging equipment according to a strategic plan, you can budget for that expense instead of dealing with surprises.

Learn more: Facilities HVAC Replacement Strategy

Vetting commercial HVAC vendors

If your goal is to reduce your HVAC maintenance costs, choosing the right HVAC vendor is critically important for commercial facilities. Here’s just one example: a vendor that acts as a helpful business partner will work with you to identify, prioritize and budget for replacement of aging equipment.

Check out these articles that can help you identify the best service provider for your organization:

Top 10 Questions Facilities Managers Should Ask NYC HVAC Contractors
How the Best HVAC Companies Use Technology for a Better Service Experience
HVAC Security: Is Your System Safe From Hackers
Facilities Managers: 8 Things to Look for in an HVAC Company