Why You Really, Really, Really Shouldn’t Put Off HVAC Maintenance

You always knew it was true, but in case you still need to be convinced that delaying necessary maintenance on your HVAC system is not a risk you want to take, consider this: “The High Cost of Deferred Maintenance.” It’s an article at The News that’s guaranteed to light a fire under you with its airtight argument in favor of acting early and its recounting of a few disaster stories, gathered from a reader survey, about people who waited too long.

Here are some high points from the story — or low ones, depending on how you want to look at it:

The worst case of deferred maintenance Wayne Turchetta ever saw involved pneumatic controls. There was water in the air lines “because no one checked on the air compressor or air dryer in the basement,” said the vice president of HMC Service, so it was “out of sight, out of mind. It failed.”

Service manager Scott Davis has seen his fair share of deferred maintenance problems for customers ranging from homeowners to health care facilities. These have included “burned compressors, house burned down, exploded fans, etc.”

The most extreme case of deferred maintenance reported in the survey came from Bob Lake, president of EMCOR Service/Mesa Energy: “A complete central plant went down at a hospital,” he wrote. “It was a complete disaster for them. We got a temporary chiller in there ASAP, but they really paid the price both to the community and to us (the contractor).”

…. There are many reasons to perform regular maintenance, and they don’t require a large stretch of the imagination. The main reasons are to “minimize downtime, minor repairs vs. major replacements, loss of productivity, and extend life of equipment,” said HMC’s Turchetta.

….The benefits of HVAC maintenance are huge, said Thom Brazel, GM West Coast operations for Hill York. “HVAC maintenance is absolutely critical. I have seen $100,000-plus units fail 10 years before their life expectancy due to lack of maintenance. I have seen million-dollar claims in high-priced residential condos due to lack of maintenance — flooding, mold, IAQ, etc. Need I say more?

Lake pointed out benefits such as “lower repair costs along with an extended life of the equipment. It will also run more efficiently, thus saving energy costs.”

….[According to William Harrison, ASHRAE’s 2008-2009 president,] High-performance buildings require specialized maintenance….“The operating cost for HVAC systems is made up of several components. Energy cost is a large component. Repair and replacement costs can be large. Maintenance cost is significant and is different from others in one critical characteristic: It can be deferred. Unfortunately, when maintenance is deferred, all of the other costs increase.”

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