Investing Wisely In Your HVAC System By Using Preventive Maintenance: Part 2

Part 2 of this blog post series picks up where Part  1 left off. Catch up here and learn how preventative maintenance can save you time and money in the future.



Focus Areas
Some facets of a maintenance plan are straight forward – change the oil, change the belts, change the filters (just like your car). However, to keep a system running at peak efficiency, you’ll need to expend more elbow grease beyond the basics from time to time. Air-handler coils need to be cleaned regularly to keep heat transfer at maximum amounts. Boilers need to be cleaned once a year; even 1/16-inch of soot and ash on heat-exchange surfaces in an oil-firing boiler can reduce efficiency by 10 percent.

Also, do not forget fire testing. Fire testing and flame adjustment should be performed every 3 years. Measurement is important, you can not just eye the flame in a boiler.

Predictive maintenance is important as well. Tracking different system indicators such as oil temperature, RPM speeds, and other factors,  will allow you to pick up on many rising problems before they reach a crisis situation.  Many different diagnostics can point to issues where service isn’t being performed in the repetitive, regular nature that it is supposed to be.

Erecting automation systems can be an invaluable in maintenance diagnostic by greatly improving response time to maintenance issues via troubleshooting. Building automation systems can also be linked to computerized maintenance management systems (CMMSs) to further enhance your operations.

Keeping Tabs on Work
Once you have your plan ironed out, take the list of HVAC tasks that need to be done monthly, quarterly, annually, etc., and input them into your maintenance management system, as well as any of the documentation that goes with it, no matter if it is a paper-based system or a computerized one. Be sure it is easily retrievable for anyone who works on the system. A steady program should provide a an easily understood history of maintenance conducted on every piece of equipment, also the corrective costs incurred.

It’s important to have a clear record of service being performed and when it was performed, and to keep a paper trail. By doing that, you will be able to see trends and better predict what should be done.

Another way to keep maintenance professionals advised of the work that as been done on HVAC systems is by placing stickers on your equipment. A simple decal attached to the equipment that lists the last time the equipment was serviced, what was done, and who serviced it is invaluable. If you have a record of the last time someone was in this piece of [HVAC] equipment and what they did to it, all it will take is a quick visual check.

Repair vs. Replace
In any system’s life-cycle, there will come a point where you need to decide whether it is fiscally and practically feasible to continue maintaining and repairing an aging, degrading piece of equipment. It is important to do a life-cycle cost analysis when deciding if you should repair or replace an aging HVAC system component.

For example if you have a 30-year-old chiller and have spent more money than expected on maintenance; and, new chillers have twice the efficiency of the old chiller. The decision to replace is an easy one, if you run a life-cycle cost analysis.

Ideally, the ratio of spending for HVAC systems should be 70-percent preventive maintenance and 30-percent corrective maintenance. While every piece of equipment will need to be replaced eventually, following a strict, comprehensive maintenance schedule will prolong your building’s HVAC system and maintain not only a healthy bottom line, a comfortable home.

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