Up to 82% of companies experience unanticipated downtime due to equipment failure or malfunction, yet many businesses don't have a plan for regularly maintaining equipment to keep it in working condition. And downtime is expensive—it costs companies billions every year.

For busy facilities managers in a healthcare context, managing HVAC maintenance is often at the bottom of the to-do list. Partnering with a facilities maintenance team to streamline work orders, identify qualified HVAC vendors, and track maintenance needs can save your practice time and money.

The Importance of Proactive HVAC Care

Neglecting HVAC maintenance has serious implications for healthcare providers. To start, a regular HVAC maintenance plan can reduce the risk of breakdowns by 95 percent. That's because HVAC technicians can identify worn or failing parts before they break, reducing the need for business shutdowns due to HVAC failure. 

Having an HVAC maintenance plan in place also keeps HVAC systems running efficiently. Dirty components, clogged air filters, and leaking air ducts, for example, can all cause your system to struggle to adequately heat or cool your business. This in turn causes your HVAC to operate longer, which increases the wear and tear on components and increases the likelihood of the need for premature repair or replacement.

Maintenance also has a significant impact on energy usage and keeps air feeling more comfortable. Inefficient HVAC systems may distribute air unevenly throughout your business, which can make the air feel too hot in some areas and too cool in others, decreasing patient comfort.

4 Ways To Keep Your HVAC System—And Your Patients—Healthy

Keeping your HVAC system running smoothly doesn't have to be complicated. With a few simple steps, you can prevent frequent repairs and loss of revenue due to equipment breakdowns.

#1: Change Your AC Filter Regularly

When your HVAC system is running, all air is pulled through a filter which draws dirt and debris from the air before it enters your system. Once this filter is full, it's unable to capture more dangerous debris from the air, which could create negative effects for patient populations especially sensitive to air quality.

A clogged air filter also prevents your HVAC system from drawing in as much air, since it's hard to pull air through the clogged filter. If your HVAC system has access to a smaller amount of air to treat, it has to work longer to heat or cool your locations, increasing wear and tear and energy usage.

Luckily, it's simple to change your air filters yourself, and doing so frequently can lower energy usage by 5–15 percent, according to Energy Saver. It's recommended to change your air filters at least once every 3 months and more frequently if they are visibly dirty, especially in the context of a healthcare facility.

#2: Clean Your Outdoor Unit

Like air filters, it's important for your outdoor HVAC components to be clean and unobstructed so air can properly flow out of them. If your outdoor HVAC unit is dirty or blocked by bushes, debris, or other structures, it might not emit air properly, reducing its efficiency.

It's recommended to have at least 2 feet of unobstructed space around your outdoor HVAC unit to keep it working properly. If plants or debris are too close, consider pruning them back or moving them to prevent unnecessary wear on your HVAC system.

#3: Check Ducts For Leaks

Most HVAC systems run treated air through air ducts, which transport heated or cooled air throughout your locations—into patient rooms, offices, and waiting areas. Over time, ducts can develop cracks or leaks. When this happens, treated air can leak before reaching its destination, which makes it more difficult to heat or cool your facility.

A visual inspection of HVAC ducts can identify large leaks. In some cases, these can be fixed manually by using metal duct sealing tape or duct mastic sealant. However, to ensure the leaks are adequately sealed, professional duct sealing is the best option.

4. Schedule Regular Maintenance Every Fall and Spring, at a Minimum

The best way to keep your HVAC system healthy is to schedule regular HVAC maintenance every fall and spring before the system gets heavy usage in the winter and summer. HVAC professionals will not only check your filters, clean your outdoor unit, and review your ducts for leaks (using advanced technology that can identify leaks so small they're invisible to the naked eye), they'll also clean the inside of your HVAC system, check your refrigerant level (and recharge it, if necessary), seal leaks in your drain lines, and ensure your electrical components are working properly.

A thorough, comprehensive HVAC maintenance inspection can prevent costly repairs or outages which could shut down your healthcare location temporarily, cause temperature-sensitive inventory to spoil, or result in a loss of patient and customer trust. With a job this important, it's imperative to entrust it to a professional—like SMS Assist.

Finding the Right HVAC Vendor

Finding an HVAC vendor you can rely on isn't easy, especially when your organization is spread across multiple regions. SMS Assist has vetted a network of over 20,000 reliable HVAC vendors for you, ensuring you get quality work done when you need it, wherever you are.

Our innovative facilities management system is tiered, so there's always a vetted HVAC vendor available when you need one. By bundling work orders for your critical assets, you'll spend less money on maintenance and repairs.

Tracking Your HVAC and Other Facilities Needs

To ensure critical assets are maintained, it's important to establish a tracking system to evaluate when maintenance or minor repairs are needed. That's where One by SMS Assist™comes in, a cloud-based platform offered by SMS Assist that tracks the health of the assets that keep your locations running, like your HVAC system.

If it's too late for preventative care, One by SMS Assist™ can also enable and empower reactive maintenance services, allowing you to get help when you need it. Submit work orders through the app, and over time we'll provide actionable insights into your HVAC system health and HVAC spend, teaching you how to save money and prevent costly problems in the future.

Make one simple change to save money, prevent costly shutdowns, and check dozens of items off your to-do list—hand off your facilities management plan to SMS Assist. Our preventative maintenance plans include a 30-point inspection and four maintenance visits a year, so you can keep your healthcare facility running smoothly all year long. Request a demo for tangible insights into how partnering with SMS Assist can revolutionize the way you handle maintenance work orders.

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