Trace Engineering

Gaining the HVAC maintenance edge

The power of engineered HVAC maintenance specifications
Thursday, May 27, 2021

If you want to extend the life and improve the performance of your HVAC equipment, having the right specs to maintain it counts. Specific types of equipment and technologies require different maintenance approaches, and a program that ignores these different needs could cost building owners/managers in the long run.

“Every building or facility manager has a portfolio of HVAC equipment to maintain, and they rely on their HVAC service contractor to get the job done,” says Sam Soltani, President of Trace Consulting Group Ltd. “That being said, providers typically prepare generic procedures, which at times lack the detail and additional maintenance steps required for different types of equipment.”

The challenge, he adds, is that HVAC maintenance requirements are highly technical, and most property teams don’t always know exactly what’s required to keep them working in peak condition. As a result, they entrust the design and execution of their maintenance programs to HVAC service providers who, despite their best intentions, may not be taking the most effective approach as they work from a general set of procedures that do not consider the type of equipment.

Getting the right specs

Everyone benefits when HVAC equipment is properly maintained. Residents stay comfortable, managers add value with improved operating performance, and asset value is preserved. However, property teams rarely have the resources to research the requirements and set out the required procedures to determine these specs on their own. Here’s where partnering with a third-party expert can fill the gap.

“Hiring an experienced engineering team like ours is an extra step, but it’s worth it,” notes Soltani. “The advantage is that we can come in, examine your equipment, and use our expertise to create a comprehensive maintenance specification package that can be used to tender a customized service contract.”

Think of these packages as a blueprint, he adds. By inspecting and assessing each piece of HVAC equipment, teams like Trace Consulting can help property teams zero in on a tailored maintenance routine with detailed processes that, if completed regularly, will ensure boilers, air conditioners, ventilation systems, and other equipment that provides a safe and comfortable indoor environment receive the most cost-effective care possible.

“Now, you can go to tender with a specific set of procedures and ask the contractors who will maintain your equipment to bid on a set scope of work, not just how the  contractor decides they’ll be maintained,” adds Soltani.

“For example,” he adds. “A service provider who doesn’t have engineered specs to guide them might not complete proper building switch over and replace sensors only  when they fail, according to their internal practices. On the other end, an engineer like myself will be able to take a closer look at the specific make and model of equipment

and determine the work required for the type of boiler installed, and provide directions to calibrate a sensor to operate efficiently long before it fails”.

With these insights already baked into the specification package, property managers can tender a more precise maintenance plan, obtain competitive pricing.

“When you can go to market with an exact scope of work, you can make an apples-to-apples comparison and choose a service provider who is going to look after your equipment on your terms and budget,” says Soltani.

Added accountability

Tendering an all-inclusive specification package has other advantages. In addition to giving property teams the ability to compare their offerings fairly, the HVAC maintenance specifications allow property teams to hold HVAC service providers to set expectations.

“Let’s say you go to tender with these maintenance specifications and enter a contract with a vendor who says they’ll follow them. If you are three years into a five-year contract and your equipment is falling apart, you now have a document you can use to hold your contractor accountable,” says Soltani.

Moreover, the same engineering firm that you retain to put together the maintenance specs can also look back over past work to determine where previous maintenance programs may have fallen short and make recommendations to get things back on track.

Return on investment

At the end of the day, having engineered specifications allows property owners, condo corporations, and managers enter into maintenance contracts with confidence, knowing

that the work they’re paying for will ensure the best care for their equipment.

“Getting that maintenance specification package is an extra cost, but it leads to lower overall costs through more competitive bids in the tendering process and an extended lifespan for a building’s HVAC equipment,” says Soltani, adding, “Not only does that pay for itself, but that peace of mind alone is worth the investment.”


ENGINEERS. PROJECT MANAGERS.
Trace Consulting is a Toronto-based Mechanical and Electrical Consulting Engineering firm specializing in retrofits and tenant improvements for high and low-rise residential, commercial, retirement/long-term care, and retail applications. For more, visit www.traceconsultinggroup.com.

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