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Should You Repair or Replace Your Mechanical Equipment?

May 4, 2020 9:00:00 AM / by Tate Engineering

Repair Replace Mechanical Equipment Blog Image

Every business using mechanical equipment has one common concern - to ensure the maximum possible lifespan of their equipment. As a project manager, it is your job to decide how to maintain, repair, and in some scenarios, replace the equipment.

So if an essential piece of your HVAC equipment has broken down, what do you do?

Equipment breakdown can cause disruption in the productivity of your facility. Being a project manager, you need to find an efficient solution quickly. However, the trick is knowing whether you should choose to repair or replace the equipment.

Repair vs. Replace: A Comparison

Although repair may sound like the cheaper option, replacing equipment may save you from additional costs and trouble with recurring breakdowns.

Rising bills, defective output, lower productivity, and constant disruption of your boiler or HVAC system can reflect poorly on you as a project manager. Therefore, you must carefully consider all the pros and cons of whether to repair or replace your mechanical equipment.

Never base your decisions on guesses. As a responsible project manager, you must consider the following factors.

Informed Decisions

Your first concern as a project manager is to get things up and running as soon as possible. However, a reactive decision may work temporarily, but won’t be the best long-term solution. Here are certain factors to consider when deciding whether to repair or replace your boiler or HVAC system: 

  • Always consider the ongoing, frequent repair and maintenance cost over the remaining lifespan of your boiler or HVAC system
  • Whether the repair will affect the actual quality and productivity of your system
  • The cost repercussion of the system’s downtime
  • Health and safety costs associated with downtime, along with its impact on the working environment
  • Installation and training cost of replacement parts or systems
  • Disposal cost

You must always make data-driven decisions for the best outcome. However, each factor has its specific pros and cons as well.

Analyze Your Costs

It is better to think long-term when it comes to the cost of repair or replacement of mechanical equipment. For example, regarding equipment repair, you must consider its operational cost, current market value, remaining service life, and future salvage rate.

To replace a boiler or HVAC altogether, you must calculate the procurement cost, service life, operating cost, potential salvage value, and revenue advantages it might add to your system. Be sure to also investigate rebates that your energy provider may be offering towards equipment replacement and upgrades. Through these figures, you can determine which option serves you better.

Age of Equipment

Let’s be honest, mechanical equipment does not age gracefully. The older it gets, the more frequently repairs hit your budget. Old boiler or HVAC equipment can translate to higher repair and maintenance costs. The longer you try to run them, the more poorly they will perform.

Therefore, in such instances, you must opt for replacing a malfunctioning boiler or HVAC system altogether. Of course, you will get a newer, more advanced model that will offer longevity as well as increased efficiency to your plant. 

Costs of Repairs

As a project manager, it is a part of your role to manage your budgets efficiently. Therefore, you must consider what the repair costs are, and how often you will have to pay for them. Consider the warranty that comes with new equipment. Some units will have extended warranties on big ticket items such as coils and compressors. These warranties could be up to 5 years, saving on the cost of a repair.

If you believe that a one-time fix will sort out the issue with the equipment, then go for it. However, if it has a history of frequent repairs, then you must calculate if the repairs are costing you as much as replacing the old one with a newer model.

Consider Downtime

This is a tricky one – downtime is a big NO for any project manager working on boilers or HVAC equipment. However, it's inevitable, whether you repair or replace your boiler or HVAC system.

For example, replacing a boiler will take longer than repairing it, but you just have to schedule a one-off period of downtime - the time it will take to remove the old equipment and install the new (and get it up and running). You can plan this in your own time, ideally when no one will notice or suffer from the maintenance work.

A repair may require a shorter amount of downtime. However, frequent repairs and downtime periods will cause a nuisance for both the production and the consumers. More importantly, it will reflect poorly on your skills and judgment of the problem at hand.

Safety and Efficiency

As a project manager, it is your responsibility to maintain a safe working environment. Remember, faulty or ill-repaired equipment can cause injury to the workers. Frequent repairs cannot rectify the wear caused by aging. On top of that, newer equipment often has better controls and operation monitoring available, which will help with safety.

It falls on your shoulders to run frequent checks and know if the boiler or HVAC system is safe for operation. If the answer is no, or you are in doubt, then replacement is the obvious solution. Do not take chances. If it is worth a repair, then you can deliberate on the costs of repair vs. replacement.

When it comes to efficiency, even when a single repair may last a long time, you must still consider whether your equipment will run as efficiently as you expect. What if it burns more fuel than you expected it to? That means it will cost you more in the long run. New equipment may be up to 25% more efficient than the equipment to be replaced, depending on its age, which will save energy.

In such scenarios, a replacement may be preferable, as it will cost you more now but will deliver a better return on your investment with lower fuel costs, improved efficiency, and higher longevity.

Get Experts Help

If you are a project manager running a boiler plant or an HVAC system, then you must weigh your options on whether to repair or replace your mechanical equipment. However, in either scenario, it is best to get an expert’s opinion on the matter. Experts such as Tate can help, not only with making the right choice, but also with installations and solutions that serve you best. 

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Tags: Equipment

Written by Tate Engineering