Maintaining your HVAC system is crucial if you want to run a safe, efficient facility, whether you’re overseeing a manufacturing plant, an office building, or a school.

No comfortable space should have a failing HVAC unit, and to keep your equipment running as it should, you need to adhere to a proper maintenance schedule. But following a maintenance plan is harder than it sounds.

An illustration shows a male worker in blue and orange performing preventive maintenance services on a piece of commercial HVAC equipment.

Not every piece of equipment requires the same type of maintenance, and not every maintenance task needs to be performed at the same cadence. To keep everything in order and ensure you don’t miss any required maintenance, we recommend you follow an HVAC maintenance checklist to care for your commercial system.

What is an HVAC maintenance checklist?

An HVAC maintenance checklist should provide you with a comprehensive list of each system or component that requires service, along with information about when it was last serviced and when it will require servicing again.

Typically, the components checked in commercial HVAC maintenance include:

  • Air conditioning system
  • Heat pump
  • Electric heater
  • Gas furnace
  • Dual fuel heat pump furnace

An HVAC maintenance checklist should follow a seasonal plan that focuses more heavily on readying the air conditioning components before summer and the heating system before winter.

Some HVAC parts and systems might require daily or weekly care, while others only require annual or periodic maintenance. That said, it is always best to read your equipment manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines.

Creating a personalized HVAC maintenance program

Each HVAC system has its own set of maintenance needs. Some systems are different by design, of course, but even the same systems might require different types of maintenance if they are used in different capacities or in different climates.

For example, a school in California that hosts students year-round will likely need very extensive service for their air conditioning system, while a church in Minnesota that only runs once a week might need very little air conditioning maintenance.

In any case, before you start following a general maintenance plan, be sure to take stock of your system’s unique needs to create a customized set of solutions that work for your facility.

Questions to ask yourself to get the most out of your maintenance program

What type of HVAC system do I have?

Knowing the functionality and parts of your heating and air conditioning system will help you make a more informed decision when creating a maintenance routine.

Some of the most common commercial HVAC systems include:

  • Single-split system: Uses indoor and outdoor units to monitor air temps and move cooler or warmer air inside with or without ductwork. Ideal for smaller commercial buildings. 
  • Multi-split system: Like a single-split system, a multi-split uses both indoor and outdoor units. However, this system uses multiple indoor units indoors that sync to a single outdoor unit, making it better for larger properties. 
  • Variable air volume (VAV) system: Maintains a consistent temperature with varying airflow. Ideal for multi-room spaces that require separate temperatures.
  • Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system: Uses refrigerant as a heating and cooling medium with very high energy efficiency.
  • Constant air volume (CAV) system: Provides constant airflow and adjusts air supply temperature for large spaces with few windows.
  • Heat pump system: Removes or moves heated air to heat and cool central spaces. Great for schools and sports facilities, but not typically ideal for cooler climates.
A male worker in a blue uniform uses a checklist and clipboard to perform preventive maintenance on commercial HVAC equipment outdoors.

How long has the HVAC system been operational?

Each system may have a different lifespan depending on manufacturer, type, and hours of use, but many commercial HVAC systems last about 15-20 years. As you create a maintenance plan of your own, make sure you know how long your system has been in operation and what its projected lifespan is based on manufacturer recommendations.

When was the HVAC system last serviced?

As they say, the greatest offense is a strong defense. The same is true of HVAC system maintenance. To better understand the care your system requires, you need to know the services it has already received. Log all relevant system upkeep and repairs so any technician who works on the HVAC system will know the unit’s history. This can help you spot patterned problems and weak system components that need repair before failures occur.

How often is the HVAC unit in use?

Age isn’t the only important factor when considering system lifespan–you should also consider runtime hours and frequency of use. Depending on your climate, your system might favor the cooling components, or it may get a rounded use of both cooling and heat. Systems with more runtime will likely need more consistent year-round maintenance and may have a shorter lifespan, whereas units with excessive gaps in runtime might need more attention before seasons change and demand spikes.

Preventive maintenance checklists for your HVAC system

Spring & Summer HVAC Maintenance

Procedure

Get this checklist

Fall & Winter HVAC Maintenance

Procedure

Get this checklist

Configurable equipment maintenance software

Increase asset lifespans and strategically plan the use of your equipment with reliable maintenance software.

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The benefits of preventive maintenance

A graphic answers the question, "Why is HVAC Maintenance Important?" with: lower energy costs, reduced repair costs, fewer emergency repairs, sustainability, higher life span of your system, and health and safety.

Lower energy costs

When your equipment isn’t running at peak performance, it means you’re using more energy to heat or cool your facility. Not only does regular maintenance make your system more efficient, but it can also help minimize overall energy use and lower your expenses. 

Fewer repairs

Regular HVAC maintenance can keep your system running more smoothly, which decreases your chance of failure and limits the number of repairs necessary.

If you are frequently changing filters, clearing the system of debris, and checking for leaks, you’re avoiding breakdowns caused by preventable wear and tear. 

Longer equipment lifespan

As with any piece of machinery, better care leads to a longer lifespan. Typically, your diligence year-round will give you longer use out of your system, adding months or years of value. 

Better safety

Commercial HVAC maintenance is about more than improving efficiency and minimizing cost. It also keeps staff and visitors comfortable and safe.

Poorly maintained HVAC systems can short circuit, causing fires, or they might leak dangerous carbon monoxide.

Well-kept equipment makes for a safer facility. 

Improved air quality

By changing air filters and ensuring proper airflow in your HVAC system, you can improve indoor air quality and avoid problems like mold, moisture damage, and carbon monoxide contamination. 

Avoid unplanned equipment downtime

Whether you’re managing a manufacturing plant or an office building, a downed HVAC system can mean loss of work and missed deadlines.

In a school district, for example, a broken air conditioner or heater could cut school days short and may ultimately impact student learning.

How FMX can help

A calendar view of FMX maintenance scheduling software, including new task assignments for both mobile and desktop and fields for name, mode, due date, and frequency.

Without a reliable maintenance plan, your HVAC system might be racking up excessive energy expenses and avoidable repairs, and it could even be putting your facility’s occupants at risk. 

Tracking maintenance schedules is doable via online spreadsheets or even pen and paper, but if you want to optimize and streamline your process, a software solution is your best bet. 

FMX’s equipment maintenance software can help you store HVAC service records with a documented history of all work completed to reduce risks and liability. Likewise, preventive maintenance software allows you to schedule time-based or meter-based maintenance to help follow our seasonal service checklists, as well as other service requests.

Interested in booking a demo to learn more about FMX’s solutions? We’d love to hear from you!


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