18 HVAC Best Practices for Property Managers & Building Owners
Brad Arnold, Technical Consultant at Pipe Shield Enterprises, is a recognized leader in plumbing, mechanical and pipe rehabilitation services. As a Springfest 2016 speaker, we interviewed Brad on his HVAC best practices for property managers and building owners.
What are your top 5 best practices that property managers can use to maximize the life of their P/HVAC systems while reducing their operating costs?
- Property managers must properly vet contractors and their sub-contractors prior to entering into a contract, and confirm that the contractor has skilled technicians to do the work properly. For example, a heating and air conditioning contractor does not know how to properly maintain plumbing systems and components.
- Prepare proper bid documents to ensure that the manufacturer’s maintenance requirements are included in the maintenance task list.
- Establish a bench mark for your P/HVAC system’s energy usage and diligently analyze monthly costs to see if there are any anomalies.
- Have your building’s equipment recommissioned on an annual basis and make sure you’re present when this work is being done.
- Have an experienced and independent third party perform annual inspections to review the state of the equipment and make certain that the maintenance contractor is doing their work properly.
What are the most common mistakes you see property managers make in regards to the P/HVAC systems and how can they be avoided?
- Awarding the work to the lowest bidder. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
- Awarding the work to an HVAC/R contractor that does not know how to properly service and maintain the building’s plumbing systems.
- Allowing contractors to submit bids without a detailed maintenance task list. This results in the equipment not being properly maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements, nuisance breakdown calls and most importantly, shortening the life cycle of the equipment.
- Not checking up on the contractor’s work. Some property managers / building superintendents become complacent after a few months until something happens that results in very costly repairs or replacing equipment.
- Not establishing an energy usage bench mark and following up on any anomalies that may arise.
What should property managers look for when hiring service technicians for their building systems?
- Property managers should ensure that their contractors have licensed and skilled technicians to work on the equipment. Many contractors will assign apprentices or ‘helpers’, who are not permitted to do the work in the mechanical trades. It is imperative that property managers obtain copies of all of their technicians’ licenses, and manufacturer equipment and health and safety certificates working on their systems, and be aware of their expiry dates. Should a technician show up to perform a maintenance visit or repair that the property manager or building superintendent is not familiar with, they should not be permitted into the building until they have provided proof of their competency.
- Ensure that technicians have been properly trained and certified by the equipment manufacturer to work on the equipment in question.
- Check the contractors’ references, not only during the bidding process, but on an annual basis.
- If an HVAC/R contractor does not have licensed and skilled plumbers on staff, they must subcontract any maintenance work on the building’s plumbing equipment to a plumbing contractor that has been vetted and approved by the manager.
How has the latest technology affected HVAC Systems and how do property managers keep up with these advancements to new or existing systems?
- New high-efficiency equipment requires more frequent maintenance. Many mangers do not understand this.
- Many technicians are not properly trained on how to maintain newer equipment. Almost all manufacturers of high-efficiency equipment require installation and maintenance technicians to be trained and certified on their equipment. Many manufacturers will not sell equipment to a contractor unless they have been properly trained.
- Equipment log books should be kept in every mechanical room. The building superintendent should record the pressures and temperatures of all systems in the log book on a daily basis. Whenever a contractor services or repairs a piece of equipment, they should enter what they did in the log book. Property managers/ building superintendents and the main technician assigned to the building should meet, go over any issues and review log books on an annual basis.
- Property managers should also request that equipment manufacturers provide them and their building superintendents with basic equipment operator training.