man performing preventive maintenance on a furnace in a home

What is Preventive Maintenance Exactly?

In order to maximize longevity and keep an item or an asset operating at its peak ability, preventive maintenance is needed to accomplish that goal. Preventive maintenance, also known as preventative maintenance, is one of the most important responsibilities for our valued assets, and also one of the most neglected.

Have you ever seen a vehicle on the road that has a large amount of smoke exiting from the tailpipe? The cause of that smoke could be a number of things. But, the most common cause is likely due to old burnt up oil in the engine. Getting an oil change, which is preventive maintenance for a vehicle, would likely prevent problems such as old burnt oil circulating in the vehicle’s engine. And, in the long run, it would likely prevent a larger problem in the future.

Prevention is the Key

The whole point of preventive maintenance is to prevent problems and malfunctions from occurring with the particular item, asset or piece of equipment. Preventive maintenance is a very necessary requirement if we want to get the most out of the item and our investment. A lack of preventive maintenance will likely result in high repair costs, reduced longevity, lack in performance, and can ultimately result in complete breakdown or failure.

What Items Need Preventive Maintenance?

Preventive maintenance is used throughout a wide variety of industries. For example, in our HVAC world (shameless plug), we provide preventive maintenance for the equipment that we specialize in – air conditioners, furnaces, heat pumps, water heaters, etc. Other industries include the automotive industry, the manufacturing industry, the IT and computer industry, and many more. Most assets or items that are operational and have functional parts require preventive maintenance.

Difference Between Preventive & Corrective Maintenance

Corrective maintenance and repairs usually occur after something goes wrong or malfunctions. For example, if something goes wrong with an air conditioner and we have to perform an air conditioner repair on that unit, that’s corrective maintenance. Preventive maintenance is the opposite. It’s put in place to perform necessary tasks and inspections in order to prevent any malfunctions or failures. It is meant to be performed before anything goes wrong or malfunctions and obviously to prevent those events from occurring.

While corrective maintenance and repairs are performed on an unscheduled “as they occur” basis, preventive maintenance is scheduled and routine. This scheduled maintenance is usually scheduled in one of two ways. These ways are referred to as time-based preventive maintenance and usage-based preventive maintenance.

Time-based maintenance is based on a certain amount of time that passes by before the next scheduled maintenance event is performed. This amount of time can range from 7 days to 12 months or more. For example, we like to perform PM (preventive maintenance) on air conditioners at least once every 12 months for residential units. Commercial units can be as often as once every 30 days. It depends on how often the unit is used and its environment.

Usage-based maintenance is usually based on a certain amount of hours or miles of use that the item or asset has operated or been used. You’ve probably heard that it is recommended to have your oil changed in your vehicle every 3,000 miles. That is usage-based maintenance.

What’s Included?

Preventive maintenance typically consists of cleaning, inspecting, adjusting, lubing, and replacing parts & components. It can also include performing tests and operational checks. In our HVAC business, preventive maintenance performed on an air conditioner usually includes inspecting the coolant level, checking & adjusting the thermostat, inspecting & cleaning the evaporator coil, condenser & fan motor, and so on.

Preventive maintenance on a vehicle typically consists of changing the oil, checking and/or replacing the windshield wipers, inspecting the air filter, brakes, transmission fluid & tires, replacing the timing belt and fuel filter after a certain number of miles, and so on.

All of these events or steps are meant to keep the asset operating at its best, maintain longevity, and prevent breakdowns and failures. As mentioned earlier, neglecting proper preventive maintenance can cause a decrease in efficiency and result in major breakdowns, which usually equates to high repair costs.

Related: What is an HVAC Maintenance Agreement?

Don’t Neglect It

As you can see, preventive maintenance is very important. Whether it’s for your vehicle, your heating & air conditioning system, or even your computer, preventive maintenance should be performed regularly. Your assets and your bank account will thank you later!

At Cagle Service, we specialize in providing preventive maintenance for air conditioners and furnaces. If you live in or around the Jackson, TN area we’d love to help keep your heating & air system running efficiently and properly all year long.

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