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Post-Summer HVAC Audit, Part 2: Importance of Preventive Maintenance to Time & Materials Ratio

Posted by CLS Admin on September 16, 2014


In our last installment, we made the case for doing reconnaissance on your HVAC strategy by evaluating your entire HVAC inventory, as well as your HVAC service provider. As part of that evaluation, we suggest you use some relevant numbers to develop a simple ratio – albeit one with deep implications.

To do this, ask yourself, for every dollar you spend on Preventive Maintenance (PM) in a given year, how many dollars are you spending on HVAC repairs (excluding replacement costs)? The relationship expressed by these numbers is what we call the PM (Preventive Maintenance) – TM (Time and Materials) ratio.

At CLS Facility Services, we’ve recently been averaging a 1-2.5 PM to TM ratio for our clients’ equipment. We consider that to be a strong ratio, given the closeness of the numbers — in other words, for every $1.00 our customers spend on PMs, they only spend $2.50 on repair cost. These ratios have will vary widely, depending upon the condition and age of the equipment.

Given the sheer number of variables in play when we think about HVAC equipment and maintenance (e.g., age, make, model, condition, past history, geography), it’s impossible to derive PM -TM benchmarks and standards that apply to every unit or chain in all places.

So, whatever your ratio is, if you’re spending money on preventive maintenance, your PM-TM ratio should continue to shrink over time. If yours is currently 1-7, for example, you should strive for some improvement every year. Did you go from 1-8 two years ago to 1-7 last year, and now you’re at 1-6.5? That’s good -- any change to a tighter ratio should demonstrate that the company that manages your HVAC system is doing an effective job.  After all, if you’re paying an outside provider to really take care of your HVAC equipment, it’s reasonable to expect that your repair cost should decrease.

In working to bring your PM-TM ratio down over time, the real goal is enabling smarter HVAC decisions that save you time and money. As we mentioned in our previous installment, a solution like CLS’ PM Logic® tracks all the key metrics of your HVAC system from year to year. For more information on PM Logic, read our last blog post, Post-Summer HVAC Audit Part I, or visit the PM Logic® page on our website.

Lastly, part of your post-summer HVAC audit should include a thorough evaluation of the components of your PM program.

The idea here is, if you’re seeing HVAC costs heading in the wrong direction, then consider the actual PM you’re receiving, and evaluate whether it’s the right PM for you. As we’ve said many times before in this blog, PM isn’t one-size-fits-all; it should fit your unique needs and requirements.

For more information on PM and preparing your HVAC system for different seasons, we encourage you to download our e-books:

These e-books include strategies for building PM programs and helpful checklists to guide you in caring for your units over time. For any questions about CLS’s national HVAC services, or all other CLS services, please call us at 800-548-3542.


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