Facility Management

Why You Should Never Delay HVAC Maintenance in Your Aging Building

The dangers of avoiding and deferring maintenance for older buildings and ventilation systems.

November 3, 2021
Last Updated On:
April 26, 2022
Last Updated On:
April 26, 2022

Unfortunately, there are times when building owners and managers put off regular or preventative maintenance to save money. However, neglecting to maintain your air system can put your building occupants' health, safety, and well-being at risk when it comes to air quality.

Here, we will tell you more about why you should avoid deferring building maintenance, particularly in connection with your air system and air quality issues.

What Is Deferred Maintenance?

Deferred maintenance is when a company puts off regular or preventative building maintenance for one or more reasons:

  • To save costs
  • To meet budget demands
  • To make aesthetic improvements instead

When you defer maintenance, you are neglecting routine tasks, such as fixing a roof or enhancing the security system, which may be necessary for the safety of the building and its occupants. However, postponing these tasks can also increase costs, for instance, when a roof collapses during a snowstorm or expensive office electronics are stolen during a break-in.

While routine maintenance and fixing problems are essential, preventative maintenance is more so, especially if it ensures building occupants' safety and health and stops issues before they occur.

4 Major Issues with Deferring Maintenance

While you or your manager may think deferred maintenance is necessary, you may instead compound existing issues, which will eventually cost more time, money, and effort to address. Here are four problems that could arise when routine and preventative maintenance are ignored:

Issue #1: Inefficient Equipment

By deferring maintenance, equipment may become less efficient. Routine tune-ups, for instance, keep machines running smoothly and with maximum efficiency. On the other hand, when devices don't get the care they need, running them can use more energy, costing the company more money and contributing to global environmental problems.

Scheduled preventative maintenance can improve energy consumption and extend the life cycle of machines and systems. In addition, it can eliminate wear and tear and catch issues early on.

Sometimes, machines or systems are inefficient simply because they are old and at the end of their life cycle. When they are replaced or upgraded, a business's sustainability is improved, along with the bottom line.

Issue #2: System Breakdowns

System breakdowns can lead to operational disruption, which is more prolonged and more costly if emergency repairs must be done during normal business operations.

System breakdowns can also have a cascade effect. Poorly functioning components could affect other parts of the building systems and structures, causing them to be inefficient. Then, you no longer have one problem; instead, you may have many.

Issue #3: Worsening Problems

When maintenance is deferred, system malfunctions can lead to more outstanding issues farther down the line. For instance, an untreated water leak can damage a building's ceilings and walls. In addition, stagnant water can facilitate mold growth and cause structural problems in the walls, floors, and ceilings.

These costs can escalate very quickly if the problem is not fixed in a timely fashion. For example, deferred repairs are estimated to cost companies 15 times more than if the issue was treated right away. It does not take long for a small problem to become a significant problem!

Issue #4: Health and Safety Issues

Deferred maintenance can also impact occupant health. Therefore, preventative care is required in facilities to maintain safety, improve indoor air quality (IAQ), and avoid adverse health effects before they start.

When routine maintenance isn't performed, poor IAQ and air filtration may occur, putting building occupants at risk of inhaling or coming in contact with higher levels of biological and chemical pollutants.

The health risks associated with IAQ issues range from:

  • Asthma and other respiratory disorders
  • Headaches
  • Long-term health concerns, such as cancer and heart disease

Older or improperly maintained buildings allow higher levels of airborne contaminants, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus, to circulate in the air. Those pathogens must be eliminated or reduced to safe levels to safely reopen your building and ensure the safety and health of workers and customers. That means that indoor air improvements are necessary.

In the case of air quality, immediate mitigation may be needed—such as an upgraded heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) induct or air purifier. For example, high-quality air purifiers and scalable solutions from Sanalife can remove viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, bacteria, and other harmful particles from spaces of all sizes and demands.

Facility Manager And Director Evaluating Building Operational Insights.
Facility Manager And Director Evaluating Building Operational Insights

Deferred Maintenance Affects Indoor Air Quality

The average American spends 87% of their life indoors, so good indoor air quality should be prioritized for all business owners.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air could contain two to five times more contaminants than outdoor air, including: 

  • Mold
  • Bacteria
  • Mites
  • Viruses
  • Pollen
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) 

These contaminants can cause health problems in people who work or visit the building. However, because poor IAQ is not visible and often not easily detectable, addressing it may be put aside for more apparent issues.

If HVAC renovations are required, managers may decide they are too costly and put them off for another time. But investing in improved indoor air quality will help prevent problems from happening in the first place, thereby reducing the chance of needing a much larger—and more expensive—solution later.

IAQ and health issues can also have less visible, but just as serious, consequences in the workplace that can affect a company's operations and profitability, including:

  • Absenteeism
  • Increased medical claims
  • Decreased productivity

Don't Jeopardize Your Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Cost can be one of the biggest reasons for deferring maintenance. Unfortunately, when maintenance delays occur, the price of repairs can grow exponentially. In addition, aging, unsafe buildings become more hazardous, and aging, inefficient ventilation systems make poor indoor air quality worse.

Luckily, with Sanalife's air purifier technology, facility managers can improve air quality without overhauling the entire HVAC system so costs can be kept down with minimal operational disruptions.

Sanalife has several portable and induct units that can be used for cleaning your building's air. The units are easy to use, affordable, and can clean both small and large facilities.

On top of that, many of our technologies include ActivePure®, which safely disinfects harmful molecules. It also reduces common surface and airborne contaminants and helps prevent the spread of airborne viruses, such as COVID-19.

HVAC components aren't designed to be powerful air purifiers, so air purifiers are needed even if your HVAC system has been well maintained. An efficient air purifier system improves poor air quality and helps keep workers healthy and operational costs down in the long run. Imagine the value of having fewer employee absences and improved productivity!

Call us today to find exactly the right solution for your business needs.

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