Budgeting for Your HVAC System: Annual Platinum Partners A.O. Reed & Co. Share Insider Tips
Monday, June 5, 2017
by: Jaimi Lomas, A.O. Reed & Co.

Section: Trends and Tips

Nothing lasts forever. You can nearly predict that an HVAC unit will fail in the middle of a Santa Ana heat wave! San Diego can have such tepid weather that we can be fooled into not properly budgeting for the eventual replacement of the HVAC systems. Even with the best maintenance program, air-conditioning systems will eventually need to be replaced. Proper and complete testing of the HVAC systems can increase the life expectancy by 25% or more. That said, you should do everything in your power to be properly prepared.

Here is some information property owners and managers should think about when planning out the budgets for their HVAC systems:
  • Estimates of useful life spans for HVAC systems are vital when planning short- and long-term budgets and capital improvement projects.  Ask your mechanical partner to provide data for each piece of equipment at each property. Specifically, request that the mechanical assets are listed in a spreadsheet by model #, serial #, location/what it is serving, current condition, age, useful life, and budget for replacement. Make certain this is updated on a consistent basis. 
  • Always have the estimated costs for equipment replacement and expected life span of the equipment in front of you when authorizing a major repair.  Having this data in advance will help alleviate replacing an expensive component in a system that has outlived its life expectancy and should have been replaced. It might make sense to have the mechanical partner estimate lead times for replacing the equipment.         
  • The longevity of the HVAC system depends upon many factors, including system type, operating hours, proximity to the ocean or other corrosive environments, how well it is cared for or maintained, what type of retrofits or major repairs have been made, how critical the environment it is serving, energy efficiency, ability of replacement parts and/or refrigerant, and of course, the ownerships objectives. If your mechanical partner knows what the ownerships goals are, (energy savings, selling next year, legacy owner, etc.) they can prioritize and help you to establish a proper budget.    
  • Taking all of these factors into account, the life expectancy of your HVAC systems will range from 10-25 years. For instance, in San Diego, the typical lifespan of package units, split systems and water source heat pumps averages around 15 years. A cooling tower or boiler can last up to 20 years. If you put the same equipment on the rooftop on Prospect in La Jolla, the lifespan is likely to be shortened due to environment or proximity to the ocean. Again, each property is unique; ask more questions. 

To learn more, go to the ASHRAE database at ASHRAE.org