Avoiding the 5 Hidden Risks that Come with Deferring Maintenance

June 18, 2019  •  Katie Zwick

Every facility manager like you experiences different challenges, but your goals for improving your facilities tend to be pretty aligned. As a facility manager, is it likely that you use tactics such as preventive maintenance or reactive maintenance to maintain your facilities and equipment, but not all facility managers are fortunate enough to have a budget that meets their facilities’ maintenance needs. With the challenges of keeping up with the costs required to maintain your facilities, you might find yourself putting off some much-needed maintenance tasks in order to save money, but it’s deferred maintenance like this that can lead to bigger problems and more expenses for your facilities in the long run.

Here are 5 reasons why you should avoid deferring maintenance within your facilities.

1. Extensive, long-term costs

Deferred maintenance oftentimes comes with consequences. Let’s say the annual fee to maintain a piece of equipment is $1,500 a year, and you have no funding in your current budget to support this cost. So, you make the decision to put off maintenance for this piece of equipment until next year, when you can deal with it financially. According to Rick Biedenweg, President of Pacific Partners Consulting Group, for every $1.00 of maintenance deferred to a later date results in $4.00 of capital renewal. In the example above, this means that by next year when it comes time to service this asset, you will be paying up to 4x more than you would have the previous year, which amounts to $4,500.

2. Reduced equipment efficiency

The main goals of performing routine maintenance are to 1) prolong your equipment’s lifespan and 2) maintain your equipment’s efficiency. Deferred maintenance will only decrease your equipment’s efficiency and lead to shorter life expectancy. This is because a piece of equipment that has not been maintained appropriately may have to use more energy to perform at its optimal capacity. For example, not changing dirty air filters or clearing an obstructed air intake, will only increase the amount of energy necessary for the system to bring incoming air to an appropriate temperature. As a result, the unit must work harder and use more electricity and energy, thus, driving up costs, and taking unnecessary money out of your budget.

3. Safety and health risks to all occupants

As a facility manager, a crucial part of your job is providing a safe and clean environment for all occupants of your facilities. Deferring maintenance for equipment can lead to unsafe and unhealthy conditions within your facilities. For example, failing to routinely change the air filters in your HVAC system will decrease the air quality in your facilities, creating health risks for your staff. Poor indoor air quality has been tied to symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs - all symptoms that could lead to decreased productivity.

In addition to health issues, failure to perform necessary maintenance, such as testing fire alarms or inspecting door locks and latches, could lead to unsafe working conditions for you and your staff. These oversights could also land you one big lawsuit, and a large dent in your wallet.

Keep in mind that, over time, safety hazards will increase as a result of deferred maintenance. A safe environment means that all aspects of your facilities work effectively and efficiently.

4. Increase downtime - and cost your organization money

There are many issues that arise from equipment downtime, yet the most direct impact is a loss of production capacity, which means a loss of revenue for your company. Organizations that routinely inspect, repair, and upgrade their equipment tend to minimize their downtime, and maximize their profits and savings.

As the old adage says, “time is money”, and since both are extremely valuable to you as a facility manager, you cannot afford high levels of downtime when it comes to your facilities’ assets and equipment.

5. Entire System Failure

Even though no one wants to think about it, prolonged deferred maintenance could even result in entire system failure. Expensive equipment, such as HVAC systems, require components that are designed to wear down over time. A typical HVAC system that is routinely maintained has a life expectancy of 10-20 years. But because of the costs associated with replacing parts, doing inspections, and more, you may find yourself putting off these tasks over time. In the long run, continued use of worn or damaged parts may result in an over abundance of failures across the system, which eventually causes it to crash.

How can you avoid the costs associated with deferred maintenance?

Performing preventive maintenance will allow you to routinely maintain your equipment, while reducing the amount of reactive maintenance you need to perform. It will also take less time, and cost less money, than unexpected repairs. In addition to performing preventive maintenance, also make sure to prioritize repairs using a structured system, such as a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). With a CMMS, you can schedule and track all of your planned maintenance tasks for your facilities right from the convenience of your smartphone or tablet. Click here to learn more about how a CMMS can help you streamline your Preventive Maintenance processes.

Always remember, routine inspections, regular maintenance, and other professional services will ensure that your equipment and building(s) are in tip top shape.


Katie-1Katie is the Marketing Communications Manager at FMX. When she’s not managing trade shows and customer marketing, you can find her attending a concert, kayaking, reading a good book, or taking her dog, Lucy, on walks!

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