This winter season may have been a rude wake-up call for you when it came to your HVAC system. Sometimes your equipment can just break down due to age or neglect, and issues can become much more apparent when your system has had to deal with the cold. Deciding whether to repair or replace your equipment can be one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make this year. 30% of commercial building energy consumption goes toward creature comforts, so any shortcomings with your equipment – whether it’s broken down units or inefficient power usage – can have an adverse effect on your bottom line. Let’s take a look some tips to help you determine whether you need to get all-new equipment or if your HVAC system can be brought back up to speed.
- Check your records
- Keeping accurate and up-to-date information about the state of your HVAC system is a key factor in determining whether it’s still going to be usable. Details about the original installation, maintenance records, and repair records should all be kept on file; they will be the main factors which will determine the feasibility of repair. If you don’t have this information, your original equipment installers and any service contractors should be able to help you out.
- If for some reason you don’t have detailed information about each individual piece of equipment you have, now’s as good a time as any to begin. Information to be kept on file includes things such as model and serial numbers, warranty information, and any service or maintenance agreements you have in place for the equipment.
- Inspect your HVAC systems
- Many times a simple visual inspection will already give you vital information about the state of your equipment. Rooftop units can sometimes go for weeks or months without being inspected, especially if they’re tucked away in hard-to-access areas of the building. Either have your own maintenance people inspect the HVAC units or hire qualified professionals to do it for you, making sure to follow any and all manufacturer safety warnings.
- If you already have periodic maintenance or repair visits scheduled with a professional contractor such as Level One HVAC, you can have them inspect your HVAC units to save on time and expenses. This also helps save on emergency repairs – being proactive has benefits. Have the technician review all of their findings with you and ask for quotes if anything needs replacement or repair. This can all go in your records as we stated above.
- Evaluate the information
- Here’s where everything comes together. By now you’ve learned a lot about your HVAC system – how much everything costs, what future actions are necessary to keep it running, etc. Based on the records that you have, it’s time to assess the condition of each part of your system.
- First, consider maintenance costs: equipment that’s more than 15 years old is usually much more expensive to maintain than equipment that’s been in service for less than 5 years. Next, you have to determine how much time and money you’re spending on sudden, unexpected repairs. Older equipment will also tend to have parts that have been phased out or rendered obsolete, meaning your service providers will either have to hunt it down or come up with other solutions – which is generally more expensive than buying something off the shelf and slotting it in. Lastly, take a look at how much you’ve been spending on keeping everything on – older HVAC units tend to be less efficient than newer models. This is exacerbated by the fact that equipment tends to get less and less efficient as it gets older.
- Decide whether to repair or replace
- By now you’ve done all the work needed to make a well-informed decision about whether to repair or replace your HVAC equipment. Most of the legwork is done and all you have to do is simply compare the cost of repairing and maintaining your old systems with the purchase and operating costs of newer equipment. Most of the time newer technology will effectively pay for itself in utility savings.
- If you do decide to keep your existing system, it’s likely that you’ll still need to repair and/or replace some of your equipment. Be judicious in determining which assets are okay to keep, but don’t hesitate to replace equipment that’s more trouble than it’s worth. If your repair and energy costs for specific pieces of equipment have been rising for the past 2 to 3 years, it may be better to simply replace these assets as they have diminishing returns.
- Don’t skimp on the work
- You need to define a maintenance and monitoring program for any parts you’ve replaced or repaired. This should cover all aspects of the equipment, and should have basic performance metrics to ensure that each unit continues to be an asset worth keeping. Keep records of these metrics and you’ll have a head start the next time you need to determine whether to replace or repair.
- No matter which choice you go with, one of the most important aspects of this operation is hiring professional, reputable contractors to execute your plans. You’ll need contractors who are fully licensed and insured in all aspects of mechanical installation and service. Don’t fall for fly-by-night outfits that can’t commit to future support or can’t back up their workmanship.
We at Level One are proud to say that we fulfill all of those requirements as well as offer 24-hour emergency service, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And we are ready and willing to assist you with any issues you may have. Let us take care of your HVAC concerns and be free from worries. If you’d like to learn more, give us a call at (248) 486-6500 or simply fill out our online contact form and someone from our staff will be in touch with you shortly.