Preventive Maintenance: The Best Investment for Multifamily and Commercial Buildings

The Best Investment For Buildings

We energy specialists brag about investing the customer’s money at 50% to 100% return on investment, which translates to a one or two year payback. Preventive maintenance (PM) can provide much better payback compared to insulation or other conservation measures, often as short as a month or two.

Given the benefits, it’s amazing how many building have no PM or a neglected or unused PM program. When was the last time you heard PM discussed in the media? As usual, the media favors reporting on renewable energy, coal, natural gas, or nuclear power.

Preventive maintenance is strongly related to energy conservation because well-maintained equipment is much more energy efficient than poorly maintained equipment. Energy auditors should evaluate a facility’s PM program during an ASHRAE Level I Energy Audit, which is a commercial or multifamily walk-through audit. If a facility doesn’t have a PM program, make PM one of the first recommendations. Performing a Level II ASHRAE energy audit on a building that had no PM program, would be premature.

Benefits of Preventive Maintenance

HVAC maintenance investments can repay building owners at more than 200% ROI.
HVAC maintenance investments can repay building owners at more than 200% ROI.

PM provides a number of important benefits.

  • PM extends equipment life
  • PM reduces repair costs
  • PM saves energy
  • PM improves tenant satisfaction
  • PM reduces total maintenance effort and increases maintenance effectiveness and efficiency

Examples of Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance requires management commitment and skilled maintenance workers.
Preventive maintenance requires management commitment and skilled maintenance workers.

Here are a few examples of how PM benefits the building and its occupants.

  • A well-managed boiler chemical program reduces the frequency of tube cleaning and helps the steam boiler make steam more efficiently.
  • Changing the fuel filter on an oil boiler prevents the inconvenience and discomfort of a no-heat situation.
  • Cleaning air-cooled condenser coils maintains good cooling efficiency and prevents the noticeable deterioration of cooling performance that results from dirt build-up.
  • Group re-lamping maintains acceptable light levels and prevents repeated single lamp changing, including finding a ladder and replacing it afterwards.
  • Changing air-handler air filters extends compressor life and maintains heating and cooling airflow at an adequate level.

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