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Recent HVAC Fails Highlight Importance of Preventive Maintenance


From the story about schoolchildren in Baltimore having to wear coats in their classrooms because the facilities’ heating systems couldn’t keep up with the cold to this story about a VA hospital in Chicago that had to be evacuated because malfunctioning heating coils cause fumes and flooding, HVAC and facility management has been in the mainstream news quite a bit this winter. And clearly, not in good ways.

These stories highlight the criticality of good preventive maintenance on HVAC equipment, especially during (or, more importantly, prior to) extreme cold snaps like much of the country experienced in late December and early January.

But even preventive maintenance might not be enough – in the case of the Baltimore schools, the HVAC systems are old enough that replacement is probably necessary. This article  from Building Operating Management magazine details the steps facility managers should take when consider HVAC replacement. First, and most notably, is evaluating current equipment. But if you’ve had a problem on the scale of the ones in the news lately, that evaluation is all but done for you.

Beyond that, though, it’s important to analyze other performance metrics – like how much energy the system uses, and how much maintenance is required. A simple calculation then should tell you whether it’s a good time to replace. Of course, running-to-fail is always an option, but in almost every case, it’s the least best option.

This Quick Read was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, executive editor, Building Operating Management. Read his cover story on the how sustainability and resilience complement each other.

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