I wanted to thank you for attending the Xcel energy heating efficiency presentation last week on October 13. I would love to know how you liked the presentation.

As a way of saying thanks, I wanted to offer you a few simple tips to help reduce your HVAC maintenance and repair costs. As a former commercial service technician, I have worked with many facility managers and maintenance technicians. Many of the service situations I responded to could have been prevented altogether or made to be less costly. Implementing these techniques will help keep more money in your operating budget.

  1. Identify and label everything.

Most commercial HVAC contractors charge well over $100 per hour to dispatch a service tech to your building. Many times, it is a big challenge for the contractor’s technician just to identify which piece of equipment needs attention, where it is located and how to get to it. Label every thermostat with which piece of equipment it is connected to. Create a file in your office with a map of where each unit is located and which area it serves.

For equipment located above a drop ceiling, mark the T-bar with which tiles need to be removed for access.

For split systems, identify and label which condenser is associated with which air handler and which thermostat.

These steps can save hours of time and therefore hundreds of dollars per call.

  1. Record filter and belt sizes and types. Initiate a replacement schedule and do it in house.

I cannot count how many times a commercial service call was caused by filters that were not changed on time, or by a broken belt. These things are very expensive on a demand service call, but relatively cheap to replace on a planned schedule. One thing all those calls have in common is that the facilities did not have a plan to replace consumables, or don’t know there are filters or belts in place. Fifty percent or more of a commercial service tech’s job is replacing filters and belts at high hourly rates. A significant portion of that time is spent identifying sizes and types and which ones go where. Make a plan and schedule regular replacement intervals. Know your filter and belt sizes for each unit including make- up air units and exhaust fans. This one step can save thousands of dollars per year. Even if you don’t have the time to change them yourselves, having the information available to your contractor will save time and money.

  1. Keep air conditioning and refrigeration coils clean.

Just as many demand service calls are caused by dirty outdoor refrigerant coils as are caused by dirty air filters and broken belts. Also, on a structured planned maintenance plan provided by a professional contractor, the majority of the bill comes from washing outdoor coils and replacing filters. Most outdoor refrigerant coils can be rinsed out once or twice a year with water from a hose. In Colorado, a permit is required to perform this work. Click this link to purchase a permit: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/cog607000%20app.pdf.

Facilities that have a file that documents unit location, area served, filter and belt sizes as well as the equipment make, model, and serial numbers with a map showing their locations generally spend less on professional repair and maintenance calls. They also tend to have more money available to spend on equipment upgrades and replacement when they become necessary.

Most commercial contractors charge much less to perform planned maintenance than they do to perform demand service. Planned maintenance will prevent many emergency service calls altogether. Shifting some of the simpler tasks away from the contractor and performing them in house can cut your costs even more. Create a plan and a schedule for simple maintenance items. This will leave only the technical evaluation functions to the pros and leave more money in your budget for more important things.

To Your Success,


Eric Shidell

HVAC Service Mentor