If you happen to be responsible for the care and maintenance of the HVAC system for a commercial property you presently own or lease, based upon what we have witnessed in conducting commercial property condition assessments over the years, unless there exist some serious ongoing HVAC issues requiring immediate attention or repair, we can almost assure you that in the absence of a mechanical HVAC service maintenance contract agreement or equivalent preventive maintenance program, regular routine maintenance recommended by the equipment manufacture for the purpose of maintaining and extending the serviceable life of mechanical HVAC equipment appears to be often overlooked if not seldom provided. However, while highly recommended, it's still worth mentioning that a service maintenance contract agreement is only as good as the mechanical contractor who provides it. With this in mind, assuming that you are not an HVAC service technician, once you have finished reading this post, you will have learned what you can do to determine whether or not the HVAC contractor you hired is living up to the terms of their service maintenance contract agreement.
Commercial Property with Triple Net Lease Holding Lessee Responsible for Maintaining Mechanical Rooftop Equipment – No Service Maintenance Contract Agreement in Place
In conducting a recent roof inspection for one of our clients in attempting to determine the source of what initially appeared to be prior reoccurring roof leaks, the exact cause eventually turned out to be condensate backup leaks originating from two package rooftop units. Shortly thereafter, a due diligent inspection of each and every package rooftop unit by a qualified, licensed mechanical contractor determined that all rooftop units suffered from long term deferred maintenance in varying degrees thereby increasing the likelihood of heating/cooling problems yet to come. This is a good example whereby a service maintenance contract agreement provided by a qualified, licensed mechanical contractor with a proven track record may have been beneficial in preventing the aforementioned condensate backup leaks attributed to deferred maintenance.
Commercial Property with Triple Net Lease Holding Lessee Responsible for Maintaining Mechanical Rooftop Equipment - Service Maintenance Contract Agreement in Place
It's probably happened to each and every one of us more often than we care to admit in that we hire someone in good faith assuming they're honest, knowledgeable and experienced in the service they provide only to be disappointed later on with the quality of workmanship provided or a situation made worse. For example, a commercial property condition assessment we conducted in the past whereby copies of signed work orders and paid invoices submitted by a mechanical contractor were provided by the building occupant for review indicating recent maintenance and repairs since performed including replacement of a package rooftop unit heat exchanger cell collector gone bad. However, in conducting a higher level due diligent inspection of all package rooftop units at the time of our property condition assessment, it was determined that the heat exchanger cell collector serving the package rooftop unit in question had not only never been replaced but had worn through allowing flue gas to be drawn into the circulating air stream thereby posing a life threatening condition to all occupants inside the building. In reality, if the gas company had been made aware of such a condition to begin with, I can assure you that they wouldn't have hesitated for a moment in deciding whether or not to shut down and red tag the package rooftop unit with the defective heat exchanger cell collector.
Making Sense of it All
For the sake of being redundant, foregoing a service maintenance contract agreement provided by a reliable and reputable mechanical contractor or neglecting to implement an equivalent preventive maintenance program initiated by qualified maintenance personnel is definitely a crap shoot at best. On the other hand, while we realize there is always going to be some degree of risk in looking to find a trustworthy, qualified, licensed mechanical contractor to provide a bona fide service maintenance contract agreement, you may also want to consider soliciting the services of an independent building inspection consultant well versed in HVAC systems in providing an annual assessment of the HVAC equipment listed under your service maintenance agreement to determine whether or not your mechanical contractor has been living up to the terms of their agreement (Note: It should go without saying that the building inspector/consultant should have no vested interest whatsoever in the HVAC company hired to service the equipment).