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As we head into warmer months and prepare for a little spring cleaning, don’t forget to add your HVAC system to the list. Even if you currently have an HVAC contractor providing preventative maintenance services, you’ll want to double check that thorough cleaning is being completed with your maintenance service on a regular or seasonal basis.

Keep in mind, just because you have a contract that says “preventative maintenance services” on it doesn’t mean those particular services provided are actually preventing anything. (Learn more about how to choose the best HVAC company for your needs.)

To help you make the most out of your HVAC equipment this season, check out our Spring HVAC Maintenance Checklist for Cleaning below.

Spring HVAC Maintenance Checklist for Cleaning

Even though we’re referring to this list as a form of “spring cleaning,” the components on this checklist will likely need to be inspected and cleaned more than once a year. We’ve kicked things off with four of the most important components your HVAC contractor or maintenance employees should be cleaning on a regular basis. Take a look below, and as always, reach out to us if you have any questions.

Condenser Coil

The condenser coil looks like metal fins, and it’s wrapped around the exterior of your unit. It is used to transfer heat out of the AC system. When you want to clean the coils, you should not use a hose. This will only make your situation worse by pushing the dirt and debris deeper into the coils. Instead, it is best to wash the coils from the inside-out with special cleansers and pressurized air or water.

It’s also important to remember that a good percentage of the condenser coil is inside the AC cabinet. If you don’t clean this portion of the condenser coil, too, then you’ll likely consume more energy than necessary and overwork your unit.

At BMI, we consider this maintenance to be imperative to the overall efficiency of your HVAC unit. Because of this, we work it into our preventative maintenance services. Confirm that the person handling your HVAC system is not only cleaning your condenser coil — but cleaning it in the proper way.

Evaporator Coil

The evaporator coil also looks like metal fins, and it is located inside your air handler behind the air filters. Once the air is filtered but before the air leaves the unit, it moves across the evaporator coil and the heat is removed.

Keeping this part of your HVAC unit clean should be a priority. This area is dark and moist, and because of this, it can become highly susceptible to a build-up of dirt, debris, and biological growth. Since air is typically not filtered after leaving the evaporator coil, it is essential that you keep this area clear of all that debris. Confirm with the individual responsible for your HVAC maintenance that they are cleaning your evaporator coil on a regular basis. 

Electrical Panel in the AC Unit

The electrical panel is located outside of your rooftop unit, and it is a critical component of your machine. It is extremely important to keep your panel clean, so you can avoid arcing and electrical shorts. 

To clean the electrical panel, we use compressed air and soft brushes to gently remove dust and debris.

Warning: Do not attempt to clean the electrical panel without qualified worker certification and the proper personal protective equipment.

Fans

Both the supply fans and the condenser fans also require cleaning on a regular basis. The individual blades need to be wiped down since build-up can throw a fan out of alignment. When this happens, you’re on a one-way road headed towards a breakdown. 

Confirm with your HVAC partner that the supply fans and condenser fans are part of their HVAC maintenance checklist.

Why an HVAC maintenance checklist is good for business

Running through an HVAC maintenance checklist on a regular basis may seem like a hassle, but in all actuality, it’s good for business. Here’s why:

  1. Save More Energy: When you keep your air filters and coils clean, you can reduce your unit’s energy consumption by up to 25% (via ASHRAE).
  2. Lower Repair Costs: As we mentioned earlier, failing to clean any of the above components can (and likely will) result in unnecessary breakdowns. Regular maintenance will result in fewer repairs and the expenses that come with them. A good rule of thumb to remember is that reactive maintenance, on average, equates to $3 to $4 in repairs for every $1 spent on a maintenance program. Preventative maintenance is simply a wise investment. (At BMI, our customers spend even less than the average — $0.70 in repairs for every $1 invested in our maintenance services.)
  3. Get Cleaner Air: Generally speaking, a cleaner HVAC unit means cleaner air. If you have dirt, grime, and other forms of build-up on your unit’s components, then how can you expect to have clean, filtered air? When you keep your unit clean with preventative maintenance, what you’re really doing is ensuring that your guests and employees have a safe, healthy, and comfortable environment.

Ready to take the next step with preventative HVAC maintenance?

Then it’s time to give BMI a call. At BMI, we pride ourselves in providing the best possible HVAC maintenance services for our clients. Our goal is to keep HVAC systems running as smoothly as possible and in the process, limit downtime, lower costs, and save energy.
Take a look at our preventative maintenance services or fill out our online contact form to learn more.

portrait of a disgusted girl pinching her nose you hvac smells
▸ February 26, 2021

If your AC smells bad, you’re likely wondering, “How do I get rid of the smell in my air conditioner?” However, before you can answer this question, you first need to understand what’s causing the smell in the first place. 

In many cases, you can figure out what’s causing the smell by determining what type of smell you’re experiencing. The type of smell could indicate a quick fix or a serious problem.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common AC smells, what they could mean, and what your next steps should be.

My AC smells moldy

If you’re experiencing a moldy air conditioner smell, don’t panic. This is an extremely common issue to experience, and you likely aren’t in any danger. A moldy AC smell might smell similar to something that is left wet for an extended period of time (like a wet bathing suit or towel). 

Typically, this means that you have some type of water leakage that’s resulting in a build-up of fungus or mildew. This could happen in a variety of areas, including your drip pan, filter, and ducting. In this situation, you should contact an HVAC contractor to identify the problem area and correct the issue. Unwanted moisture or water in your HVAC unit can lead to more serious (and more expensive) complications. And not to mention, you don’t want to be breathing in all that mildewy air.

Related Material: Your guide to preventative HVAC maintenance and optimization

My AC smells like rotten egg

If your AC smells like rotten eggs, you may actually have a dead rodent stuck in there. It’s important to remove any dead rodents as soon as possible for a handful of reasons. First and foremost, it’s a horrible smell. Secondly, it can have a negative and damaging effect on the internal components of your AC unit. If you don’t feel comfortable removing the animal and cleaning the impacted areas, then an HVAC contractor is definitely an option.

However, if the smell is more skunk-like, this may indicate a gas leak. This is a serious issue that should be handled immediately. You’ll want to get in contact with an HVAC contractor and have them correct this issue on your behalf. While you wait for assistance, you should not remain in the building. You may also want to open windows and doors, and steer clear of matches, appliances, candles, and other similar items.

Some people have difficulty differentiating the smell of rotten eggs from a skunk-like odor. If this is you, don’t hesitate to contact a professional. Better be safe, than sorry.

My AC smells like fire

There are a few reasons your AC might smell like smoke or fire. In any case, your first step should be to turn off your AC and contact an HVAC contractor immediately. When your air conditioner smells like fire, this could mean that the electrical components are literally burning inside your HVAC unit. It could also indicate that built-up dust or debris is also burning within your unit. 

My AC smells like car exhaust

If you’re smelling something similar to exhaust fumes from a car, then this could mean that you have a refrigerant leak. This can cause a number of problems for your HVAC unit and for your living or working space. Not only can it overwork your unit, but it can also be a sign that those chemicals are finding their way into your breathing air. This is another situation where you’ll want to have your unit inspected by a professional as soon as possible.

Related Material: Tips on how to reduce the spread of COVID-19 indoors

Need help figuring out why your air conditioner smells bad?

At BMI, we help businesses all over California keep their HVAC units working (and smelling) as they should. If your AC smells bad, we can help you inspect, diagnose, and correct the issue at hand. It’s important to remember, however, that the majority of common AC smells can indicate a serious issue that should be corrected as soon as possible. Don’t attempt to fix the issue if you are not familiar with HVAC units, and no matter what, do not postpone handling the issue.

Fill out our online contact form if you have questions or if you need help with proactive HVAC maintenance.

black and white hvac system on building
▸ January 27, 2021

If you want to lower HVAC repair costs, then you’re not alone. Companies throughout California struggle to maintain their HVAC costs and end up spending significantly more than they originally planned. However, this goes above and beyond budgeting. This struggle can lead to downtown, less comfortability, and energy waste — which ultimately, results in more lost revenue. 

The good news, though, is that it’s not exactly hard to lower HVAC repair costs and related HVAC expenses. It all starts with a custom monthly agreement and an experienced HVAC contractor. 

Let’s take a look at 3 simple ways to lower HVAC repair costs for your company.

Consider a fixed-rate monthly service agreement

At BMI Mechanical, our clients have the option to be part of the Guaranteed Lifetime Protection (GLP) program. With this program, we provide proactive maintenance, repairs, and partial-to-full replacements at a fixed monthly rate. A fixed-rate monthly service agreement like our GLP gives companies the opportunity to avoid miscellaneous fees and costs. As a result, they can budget more effectively and lower operating costs.

Many HVAC contractors offer similar fixed-rate agreements for companies. Just make sure you look at the fine details and do a cost analysis before signing anything.

Keep in mind, our clients do need to be pre-qualified for this particular program. Equipment has to be in good operating condition and can’t be too close to its end-of-life. If your company does not qualify for GLP, we offer additional levels of coverage that can also help lower your HVAC expenses.

Work with an HVAC contractor that analyzes the whole pie

While a fixed-rate service agreement can help lower HVAC repair costs significantly, it’s not quite that simple. To really have an HVAC agreement that works for you, it’s important to take into consideration the 8 different areas that are directly impacted by HVAC equipment — Capital (Avoidance), Productivity, Administration, Parts/Materials, Major Repairs, Contracted Services, In-House Staff, and Energy.


So, while monthly price is obviously important, this will do nothing if some parts of your pie are not analyzed. In other words, if you’re not spending enough in contracted services, this will show up in other facets of your business — whether it’s in how much energy you’re spending, how comfortable your staff is, or even how long your equipment is lasting. This is why we mentioned earlier that it’s important to make sure you and your chosen HVAC contractor thoroughly analyze your business operations and the suggested service agreement. If not, you could end up spending more money than expected later down the line.

Make sure you evaluate your service agreement

If you do hop onto a fixed-rate service agreement, it’s crucial that you don’t fix-it-and-forget-it. If you or your HVAC contractor fail to analyze ongoing cost vs investment, then you won’t know if you legitimately were able to lower HVAC costs. 

At BMI Mechanical, our customers eventually get to a level where they’re spending less than $0.70 for every $1 they invest in our maintenance programs. For our GLP clients, this can get as low as $0.00. When you break it all down, it can equate to over 20% in savings (which ultimately means the program is self-funded). 

However, we still meet daily with companies outside our maintenance programs that have repair ratios of $2 to $3 for every $1 they spend in maintenance. These companies have less time to focus on operations and even despite the high cost of HVAC maintenance, still struggle with HVAC issues and downtime on a regular basis. If this sounds like your company, then you need to work with an HVAC contractor that can conduct a cost analysis and help you lower HVAC costs. 

Want to learn more about lowering your HVAC costs?

If you’re ready to dig deeper into lowering your HVAC costs, then it’s time to talk to BMI Mechanical. We have decades of experience helping companies in Ventura, Fresno, Bakersfield, and beyond manage their HVAC systems and lower costs. 

Give us a call or fill out our online form today.

Additional Resources

bmi mechanical building and truck and trailer
▸ January 27, 2021

If you find yourself on Google searching for “the best HVAC company,” maybe you should shift your search to “HVAC company that puts customers first”; because, really, shouldn’t they be the same thing? With decades of combined experience working as an HVAC contractor for companies throughout California, we’ve developed a method of service that works for our customers, not against them. You could say… that we have your best interests at heart.

Let’s take a few moments to cover how BMI Mechanical differs from other commercial HVAC companies and why our business model makes more sense than the traditional approach.

We’ve eliminated the “conflict of interest”

Traditional contractor relationships often start with a low-price service agreement, then follow with a litany of service calls and unplanned repairs. This reactive approach is a standard practice in the HVAC industry. You’ll know you’re in this kind of relationship if your annual service & repair costs are more than 1.5 or 2 times the cost of your maintenance agreement.  It’s an inherent conflict of interest: the contractor does better when your equipment fails.

But at BMI, we do things a little differently to eliminate this conflict of interest. Ours is a proactive business model, where we do better when you do better. With a fixed-rate monthly service agreement, we aren’t incentivized by breakdowns or premature failures. We want your HVAC system to run as smoothly as possible, so we can limit the number of service calls our HVAC technicians receive. To make this possible, we believe in finding long-term solutions for issues, and anticipating those needs before they impact your business.

Fun Fact: On average, BMI maintenance customers spend less than $0.70 on repairs and service calls for every $1 invested in our maintenance programs; compared to the reactive model, where customers average $2-3 in repairs for every $1 invested in their maintenance programs. 

We believe proactive care is key

In order to minimize breakdowns and inconsistencies with your HVAC system, BMI’s solutions are centered on regular proactive maintenance.  Providing our technicians with the right plan of action and resources to perform quality work benefits our customers with lower repair costs and less equipment downtime.     

BMI technicians visit our clients on a regular basis to test, inspect and perform critical proactive maintenance tasks to make sure everything is working as intended. If we notice any conditions that could cause issues, we address them. If we are aware of any pending updates or manufacturer-suggested maintenance, we get to work. It is our number one priority to keep your HVAC system working and your customers and employees comfortable.

Fun Fact: BMI’s proactive approach is so reliable, they guarantee it!  Guaranteed Maintenance programs offer all-inclusive coverage for a fixed monthly fee!  

We customize our monthly service agreements

It’s no secret that different types of buildings (as well as different climates and environments) require different things out of their HVAC systems. We wouldn’t be able to do our job very well if we didn’t acknowledge these differences in our service agreements.

This being said, rather than delivering a one-size-fits-all service agreement to our customers, we customize each and every solution based on individual circumstances. We even go so far as to consider seasonal changes, age of equipment, and OEM recommendations. This further enables us to be the best HVAC company we can be and promote comfortability and energy- and cost-efficiency in the process. 

Fun Fact: BMI’s average maintenance customer has been with us for over 8 years, and 23% of our customers have been with us for more than 15 years!

Get started with the best HVAC company in California

Our goal is to create a healthy, long-term relationship with each and every one of our customers. Our methodology of service allows this to happen time and time again. But not only does our methodology build trust… it also helps our customers reduce cost, downtown, and necessary operating issues.

If you want to learn more about how our service methodology makes us the best HVAC company in California, contact us today.

thermostat bmi mechanical technology
▸ January 4, 2021

HVAC technology and what it can mean for your business will be more important than ever in the coming years. But what exactly does this mean in 2021?

Let’s take a quick look at some of the top trends for commercial HVAC systems in 2021 and break down what benefits they can provide for your business.

Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization

As businesses seek out new ways to control the spread of COVID-19 in their buildings, needlepoint bipolar ionization (NPBI) will become more and more mainstream. NPBI cleans and disinfects the air with electrically-charged ions. These ions neutralize odors, kill pathogens, and reduce unwanted particles. When it comes to COVID-19, in particular, NPBI can reduce the spread by 99.4% in 30 minutes. However, going beyond COVID-19, NPBI can reduce the spread of airborne viruses in general and in the process, create a healthier and cleaner environment for employees and guests.

Keep Reading: 3 HVAC Technologies That Can Reduce The Spread Of COVID-19

Smart HVAC Technology

Homes are getting smarter and smarter, so why can’t businesses get smarter, too? When it comes to HVAC manufacturers, this is exactly what they have in mind… a smarter commercial HVAC system. In 2021 and beyond, you can expect to see companies investing in Wi-Fi enabled devices and equipment that’s integrated into their commercial HVAC system. With features such as real-time temperature adjustments, scheduling, and automation, smart HVAC technology will provide more control, cost-efficiency, and energy savings. 

Keep Reading: How to optimize your HVAC systems for future success

Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF)

While some people don’t consider indoor heating and cooling to be a very exciting topic, we certainly do. And if you’ve ever worked in an extremely cold or uncomfortably stuffy office environment, then you can at least appreciate updates in HVAC technology — especially when they concern individual temperature zones. With Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF), commercial buildings can now benefit from a multi-split type air conditioner. This gives building managers the opportunity to provide heating and cooling simultaneously in different rooms or floors of a building. Ultimately, this results in greater comfort and efficiency and saves you in energy and maintenance costs. 

Keep Reading: Your guide to seasonal HVAC planning and coordination

Ready to upgrade your HVAC system?

At BMI Mechanical, we have decades of experience helping companies upgrade their commercial HVAC systems. Whether you need help deciding between equipment repair and equipment replacement, you’re looking for a new preventative maintenance program, or you’re simply ready to modernize your HVAC equipment, we can help.
Give us a call or fill out our online form. We’d love to talk about your HVAC technology and solutions.

Refrigerant Phaseout bmi mechianical
▸ December 29, 2020

There are a million and one things you’re required to keep up with as a business owner, including regulatory updates for HVAC refrigerants — in particular, the current phaseout of R-22 refrigerant. Regulatory updates such as this one should be taken care of swiftly. Failure to do so in a timely manner could result in unwanted fines and penalties.

This being said, let’s take a quick look at the most important facets of this current regulatory update for HVAC refrigerants. 

What’s the deal with R-22?

Since the beginning of 2020, R-22 refrigerant has no longer been produced in the United States, and since 2010, no new HVAC equipment requiring R-22 has been produced either. 

It is currently illegal to import or produce R-22 refrigerant in the United States. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t use R-22. If you have a pre-existing HVAC system that requires R-22, you can still use this product. But over time, you can expect R-22 to become more expensive and much more difficult to find. 

R-22 has been banned by the EPA due to ozone-depleting substances found within it. The installation of R-22 AC or heat pumps has also been banned.

If you currently have a system that requires R-22, it might be time to consider upgrading or retrofitting your equipment.

What to consider with pre-existing R-22 equipment

  • R-22 Supply: As we previously mentioned, the price of R-22 will likely spike. However, supply is fine at the moment, and we have yet to see any noteworthy increases in price. This doesn’t mean it’s not coming, though. You can almost guarantee that it is coming. Keep in mind, you should not attempt to stockpile R-22. This material can only be purchased and handled by certified technicians
  • R-22 Replacement vs Retrofit: If you’re considering changing up your current R-22-dependent equipment, you’ll need to decide whether or not to upgrade your entire system or to retrofit specific components. To learn more about how to make this decision, check out these 3 questions to ask yourself
  • Retrofit pros and cons: There are a handful of R-22 systems that can be converted to an acceptable refrigerant. This can result in a slight drop in cooling capacity; however, it will equate to better overall energy efficiency (and plus, you won’t be on the EPA’s radar anymore). If you need help planning and implementing a new solution, we specialize in HVAC installation and design projects. We’d love to chat. 
  • R-22 Requirements: If you do decide to carry on with R-22, there are certain requirements you must adhere to. For starters, you’ll need to maintain detailed records (required for 50 pounds or more of refrigerant per HVAC system — typically multi-story commercial buildings or large industrial plants). These records must be kept for at least three years. If you need help maintaining your records, an HVAC service provider can help you make sense of everything. You can learn more about these requirements by reading the Section 608 Regulatory Changes from National Refrigerants, INC. 

Need help updating or replacing your R-22 system?

At BMI Mechanical, we have decades of experience helping companies across California update, maintain, and modernize their HVAC systems. If you need help replacing or retrofitting your current R-22-dependent system, we can help. Give us a call or send us a message online.

Additional HVAC resources:

Cooling tower cleaning bmi mechanical
▸ December 2, 2020

Over the winter months and holiday season, many manufacturing facilities and industrial plants will likely consider a temporary shutdown for some of their mechanical systems. At the same time, it’s a perfect opportunity to deep clean and sanitize, coordinate deferred repairs, and schedule proactive replacement of aging components. 

While these tasks can expand to include everything from production equipment and plumbing to roofing and other critical facility needs, it’s important not to overlook your HVAC system.

To help you manage and better prepare for an upcoming seasonal HVAC shutdown, we’ve created a simple list of tasks to check out. View the list below or download the PDF to get started.

Chillers & Boilers

Unchecked Icon Perform a full OEM annual
*Depending on the type of equipment, this could possibly involve some disassembly, interior cleaning, chemical treatment, gasket replacement, and more. It’s important to work with someone who understands these components and how to work with them. 

Unchecked Icon Eddy current testing
*This task can help you collect year-over-year data for performance and allow you to better estimate chiller lifespan. 

Cooling Towers & Evaporative Condensers

Unchecked Icon Drain and clean (silica scale and biological growth)
*If growth is significant, you should re-evaluate your water treatment program or consider reverse osmosis.

Unchecked Icon Complete a planned replacement of media
*If the media is being damaged, it can be a sign of poor PM and/or water treatment. Consider making changes if necessary.

Panel AC Units

Unchecked Icon Complete a full cleaning
*It is recommended to remove the unit from the line and wash it outdoors.

Unchecked Icon Replace any units that have been problematic
*It is recommended to repair and keep the originals as back-ups.

Need help planning your next seasonal HVAC shutdown?

Even though this list seems short and sweet, many of the items listed require someone with experience in HVAC systems. If you need assistance with a seasonal HVAC shutdown, please give us a call or contact us online today. At BMI Mechanical, we have decades of experience helping maintenance and production facilities coordinate seasonal HVAC shutdowns, and we’d love to help you, too.

Download the PDF version of this checklist, print it out, and manually cross off items as you go through our seasonal HVAC shutdown checklist.

DOWNLOAD CHECKLIST

Additional Resources from BMI Mechanical:

Employee going through facility checklist.
▸ December 1, 2020

As your employees start to prep for the holiday season, your building should start to prep for the holiday season, as well. This prep work includes a variety of winter building maintenance checks and to-dos. To help you get all your ducks in a row for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and beyond, we’ve created a simple winter facility preparation checklist for you to comb through. Take a look at our list below, and as always, reach out to us if you need any help during your journey to prepare your building for winter.

Survey The Exterior

Unchecked Icon Check for any debris on the roof, remove if possible
*Debris will likely include leaves, dirt buildup, and other natural elements that could get stuck on your roof. This might seem innocent enough, but debris goes above and beyond simple aesthetics. When debris is left on your roof for extended periods of time, it can block drains and enable mold and algae to grow. This can also lead to pooling of water, which can eventually lead to leaks.

Unchecked Icon Check for any damaged or missing insulation strips on windows, replace or fix where necessary

Unchecked Icon Check for any open windows or doors (prior to leaving the building unattended)

Schedule Seasonal Service

Unchecked Icon A professional HVAC contractor should test and provide a thorough inspection of all heating components

Unchecked Icon A professional HVAC contractor should calibrate and reprogram thermostats for heating

Unchecked Icon A professional HVAC contractor should winterize cooling-only systems (evap coolers, chillers, etc.) that won’t be running when the building is empty during the holidays

Make Adjustments To Automated Building Controls

Unchecked Icon Notate schedules for vacation, winder hours, and holiday closures and revise the scheduling for any automated building controls

*If you have NPBI installed, keep your blower fan operating at all times.

Uphold Energy Efficiency Measures

Unchecked Icon Check to see if any individuals are utilizing space heaters
*If employees feel like space heaters are a necessity, this could indicate an issue with the heating in your HVAC system. Contact your HVAC contractor if this is the case.

Unchecked Icon Work with your HVAC installer to determine and implement best-practices for energy efficiency during the colder months

Need help getting your building winter-ready?

While our winter facility preparation checklist is simple, there are facets of this list that can require professional assistance (such as activities involving seasonal inspections, calibrations, and reprogramming). If you need any assistance with these winter HVAC tasks, please give us a call or contact us online today. At BMI Mechanical, we have decades of experience helping large and small facilities prepare for the winter months, and we’d love to help you, too.

Download the PDF version of this checklist, print it out, and manually cross off items as you go through our winter facility checklist.

DOWNLOAD THE PDF
equipment replacement and repairs plan
▸ November 3, 2020

For the average business, end-of-year signifies end-of-year planning for investments and repairs. However, it’s not always cut-and-dry whether or not these investments are worth it in the long run. 

Should you bite the bullet and invest in new equipment or should you simply repair what you have and keep moving forward? To help you answer this question, we’ve outlined a series of circumstances that might require equipment replacement, as well as a series of questions to ask yourself concerning replacement vs repair.

5 situations that justify replacement

When evaluating your current system and equipment, here are some particular circumstances that should prompt you to more heavily consider replacement:

Breakdowns

If your equipment is regularly breaking down and causing problems for your staff, then it’s likely time to consider a full replacement of one or more components. You may also want to consider replacement if you’ve seen an upward trend in the cost of repairs over the last few years. This is a good indicator that your equipment is headed towards more costly and longer-lasting breakdowns.

Consumption

If your equipment is old and consuming massive or unnecessary amounts of energy, replacement might be the right choice. New and more modern equipment can have a positive impact on energy waste and cost.

Insufficiency

If your equipment is not operating at a sufficient level, why continue to put up with it? Whether it’s not cooling or heating properly or whether it’s unable to properly ventilate indoor spaces, these insufficiencies aren’t just inconvenient and uncomfortable — they can cost money, lead to downtime, and create vulnerabilities. Replacing insufficient equipment can save you money, keep your guests and employees more comfortable, and create safer, healthier spaces.

Related Content: 3 HVAC technologies that improve indoor ventilation

Changes

If you’ve made any recent changes to your business or facility (from structural changes to the building to increasing the number of employees or guests in your building at any given point), then replacement might be necessary. With new changes, come new demands. It’s important to determine if your pre-existing equipment can keep up with those changes. If it can’t, then it’s time to consider replacement.

Luck

If you happen to be lucky enough to have the “use it or lose it” capital funds in Q4, then use them. Invest in your equipment, so you can operate more smoothly in the coming year. This is more important than ever given the COVID-19 pandemic. Take this opportunity to invest in equipment that promotes proper indoor ventilation and reduces the spread of harmful particles.

Related Content: COVID-19 Reopening Guidelines & Tips For 2021

Replace vs Repair: How to make the decision

The following series of questions can help you make a logical decision when it comes to replacing or repairing aging or failing equipment.

What’s the history of your equipment?

As we mentioned earlier, equipment that regularly breaks down is a surefire sign that things need to be replaced. But more specifically, if you’ve noticed increasing costs or a significant increase in service calls over the last three years, it’s time to speak with your service contractor about replacement. Your service contractor should be able to help you determine where this upward trend is coming from and assist you in narrowing down potential replacement options.

Is your equipment wasting energy?

Back in the day, energy efficiency wasn’t top priority when considering building needs and goals. Now, however, people are coming to the realization that energy efficiency equates to a reduction in electricity costs. In fact, more modern equipment can save you as much as 50% on energy bills. To determine whether or not your equipment is saving or wasting energy, your service contractor can complete a benchmarking tool (such as the Building Energy Scorecard from BMI) to identify vulnerabilities and savings opportunities.

What is the cost of not replacing your equipment?

Your service contractor should have the ability to help you clearly define the financial impact of not replacing certain system components. With a financial analysis, you can determine if the continued annual cost of repairs will be greater than that of replacement. These costs should include energy, service, labor, revenue, and productivity costs.

The first steps to take when replacing your equipment

At BMI Mechanical, we have decades of experience helping companies make the decision between repairing and replacing aging or failing equipment. When we work with our clients, we recommend developing a 3- and 5-year plan that helps prioritize equipment replacement. 

This plan is coupled with a multi-year budget that makes the financial cost of replacement much easier to manage. At BMI, we also offer flexible billing options and short-term and long-term financing options. Don’t forget to ask your service provider if any similar financing options are available, since this can greatly lift up cash flow restrictions and enable better decision making.

If necessary, your service contractor should also be able to provide a financial analysis that determines the ROI of your investments, further aiding you in your ability to make a logical decision as to repairing or replacing equipment. 

Have more questions regarding replacement vs repair of your equipment. Fill out our online contact form or review our additional resources.

preventative maintenance worker hvac
▸ November 3, 2020

As we head into 2021, business owners and managers are looking inward. The end of year is a prime opportunity to plan investments and evaluate current preventative maintenance programs and strategies. But when evaluating these programs, what exactly should you be scrutinizing and how do you know whether or not to make changes?

Let’s take a look at what constitutes a preventative maintenance program and identify what questions you should be asking yourself as you close out the year.

Related Content: COVID-19 Reopening Guidelines & Tips For 2021

What is preventative maintenance?

Many organizations tend to use preventative maintenance as a “catch-all” phrase; however, the ultimate goal of preventative building maintenance is to achieve operational efficiency. 

“Operational Efficiency represents the life-cycle, cost-effective mix of preventive, predictive, and reliability-centered maintenance technologies, coupled with equipment calibration, tracking, and computerized maintenance management capabilities all targeting reliability, safety, occupant comfort, and system efficiency.” —O&M Best Practices Guide

As you can imagine, all preventative maintenance programs are unique (or, at least, they should be unique). Each organization has different needs and goals, which is then coupled with their unique set of tools, equipment, and solutions. While there are standards for preventative maintenance, these standards should merely be used as a foundation with which to launch your own preventative maintenance program.

Although preventative maintenance will look different to everyone, the following is a list of general questions you should be seeking answers for when selecting a service partner for your preventative maintenance needs:

  • How often is service provided?
  • What preventative maintenance tasks are provided?
  • What coverage/protection/warranty is provided for equipment components?
  • What tests are conducted and how often?
  • When are inspections completed and how often?
  • What services are not included (ex. cleaning, replacement, lubricating, etc.)?

The answers to these questions should hopefully lead you to a relationship with a service provider that is mutually beneficial. in other words, you don’t want to end up with a service provider who is rewarded when your systems fail or components break. You’re looking for a relationship that keeps your systems at optimal performance and saves you from hidden costs associated with services “not covered” in your preventative maintenance program.

What are the benefits of preventative maintenance?

The benefits of strategic and customized preventative maintenance are far-reaching. They can have a positive and lasting impact on your organization, and here’s why:

  1. You can save energy: With a comprehensive preventive maintenance solution that provides basic and routine tasks such as coil cleaning and air filter replacement, you can reduce energy waste by up to 25%.
  2. You can extend the life or your equipment: Equipment replacement can be costly to an organization, but with preventative maintenance, you can add up to 10 years to your system and lower the annual cost of equipment replacement by up to 40%.
  3. You can reduce downtime: When you keep your system functioning at optimal performance for extended periods of time, you can maintain critical processes, minimize downtime, and improve productivity, revenue, and reliability.
  4. You can improve comfortability: A customized preventative maintenance program can also be customized to enhance the experience of your guests and employees. Simply speaking, this customization can improve indoor air quality and create a safer, cleaner, and more comfortable indoor environment. Ultimately, this can lead to improved morale and retention.
  5. You can stabilize your budget: When you reduce your need for unexpected equipment repairs and replacement and reduce energy waste, what you’re really doing is stabilizing your budget. You no longer have to worry about hidden or unexpected costs, and you can now effectively budget for building maintenance. 
  6. You can lower costs: Not only can you budget better with a preventative maintenance program, but you can save better, too. Reduce your annual spend on repairs, replacement, and energy, and redirect those funds to other areas of your business.

Even with all the benefits of preventative maintenance, many organizations are still tempted to either lower or completely eliminate preventative maintenance spend from their budget. However, this would be a mistake, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than ever, it’s important to have a system that stays fully functional and protects your employees and guests from harmful particles. The only way to do this is with a designated partner and program for preventative maintenance in place.

Related Content: 3 HVAC Technologies That Can Reduce The Spread Of COVID-19

Questions to ask when evaluating your preventative maintenance program

What systems are protected? What systems aren’t protected?

When evaluating current or potential preventative maintenance programs, it’s critical to determine which areas are and are not protected or provided for by your service contractor. For example, the HVAC unit itself is obvious — but what about server rooms, building controls, and air distribution systems below the roofline? To have a preventative maintenance program that truly provides all the intended benefits, all connected systems and programs must be provided for. Have your contractor outline all areas covered by the preventative maintenance program.

What is the service interval?

For a preventative maintenance program to be beneficial for your company, preventative maintenance actually needs to be provided. While it may seem obvious, it’s a rather simple matter to overlook during contract review. How often are preventative maintenance services provided and what is the rationale behind it? Are you receiving any preventative services that are customized to your system or do they seem to be generic services that everyone receives? It’s important to review frequency and needs relevant to your business. For example, due to smoke and ash in California, air filters will likely need to be replaced more often. Is this something your provider considers? It’s simple things like these that are often overlooked, and unfortunately, this can have a drastic impact on your system.

How much are you spending?

Reducing cost and stabilizing your budget are both core benefits of a preventative maintenance program. But just because you’re on a preventative maintenance contract, doesn’t mean you should switch to autopilot. It’s important to keep track of your annual spending and to confirm that you’re not spending too much on service calls and repairs. As a rule of thumb, if you’re spending twice as much on service calls and repairs as you are on maintenance, then your program is deficient, and it should be reworked as soon as possible.

How is the conflict of interest removed?

We mentioned earlier that you don’t want to be partnered with a service provider who is continuously rewarded monetarily when components fail or require service. If it’s not obvious how this conflict of risk is mitigated, then you might need to scrutinize this area the most when evaluating your service contract. How is your service provider guaranteeing quality of service and what is the incentive for them to do so? Typically, service providers offer preventative maintenance at a recurring monthly cost. They want your system to remain efficient and they want to eliminate potential issues before they become problems. By doing so, they can minimize service calls and reduce the time spent working on your system. It’s a win-win for both parties. But for this to be truly beneficial for you, you need to understand where their services begin and end and what exactly constitutes problems and services outside your service contract. 

What is the quality of service you are receiving?

To help you analyze any services you’re currently receiving or services you’re considering receiving, here are a few questions you should answer:

  • Consistent Technician: Do you receive assistance from the same technician(s) every month or do you receive assistance from a different person every time? Oftentimes, it’s more beneficial to have one or two technicians that are fully dedicated to your account, as opposed to a revolving door of technicians.
  • Response Time: How quickly are service calls responded to and what’s the average length of time it takes to resolve issues? Is there a trend? Have things gotten worse or better over time?
  • Professional Recommendations: Are you receiving any proactive equipment and/or service recommendations? If so, are you receiving a variety of mid-range and long-term options?
  • Financial Analyses: Has your contractor ever completed a full financial analysis on your HVAC system? If not, is there one planned or is there a logical reason behind not performing one?

Related Content: Preventative maintenance case studies from real companies

Have more questions about preventative maintenance?

At BMI Mechanical, we have decades of combined experience providing preventative maintenance for companies all across California. Our technicians and associates know what it takes to create, customize, and implement a service contract that provides all the intended benefits of preventative maintenance. If you need help understanding the ins and outs of your service contract, send us a message today or check out our additional resources.

Factoid

Buildings that earn the Energy Star label use about 35% less energy than average buildings. Linc

For nearly 19 years BMI has supplied services to Laurelglen Bible Church under an annual maintenance contract. Our experience with BMI has always been exceptional. Your staff is professional and always available to meet our needs in a timely manner. The maintenance contract has taken ‘the risk out’ of servicing and repairing our HVAC units. John F. Penrose Senior Administrator Laurelglen Bible Church

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