Air conditioning, ventilation and heating, referred to as HVAC, issues top the maintenance list for many property managers who say it is the No. 1 issue they have to deal with. And, the No. 1 issue that leads to the most tenant complaints, so this week the maintenance checkup from Keepe takes on this issue.
Here are four reasons heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) should be at the top of your maintenance list, and five best practices to keep everything running smoothly.
Tenants react more quickly to the lack of cooling or ventilation than some other maintenance issues, so it makes sense to stay on top of this issue and avoid tenant complaints.
No. 1 – Health and legal obligations
In most states, existing laws establish that rental properties must have proper ventilation and heating. The law states the property’s owners and/or managers are in charge are responsible for guaranteeing that.
A rental space that is properly ventilated pushes mold, moisture, odors, hazardous gases, dust mites and other toxic airborne pollutants outside and keeps them from becoming stagnant indoor hazards. These pollutants can cause severe breathing problems/infections or even death to those exposed.
Providing acceptable indoor heating is necessary and mandated by the law. Landlords are obligated to ensure that tenants are living in heated spaces.
Tenants are entitled to working air conditioning
While these laws to not apply to air conditioning – in most states, air conditioning is considered an amenity and not a required service that must be provided.
However if you are providing air conditioning in some states, like Arizona, then Under Arizona’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, air-conditioning is considered an “essential” need, much like water. It is the landlord’s responsibility to fix the problem — usually within 48 hours after the tenant has complained
No. 2 – Bills and operating costs
HVAC systems that are not properly maintained will suffer significantly more as they experience greater wear and tear.
Worn systems are strained – they require the same amount of energy to run (or more) but their performance is reduced, resulting in increasing operating costs while their actual output is not meeting expectations.
In the long run, investing in more efficient systems or in the scheduling of regular servicing allows to actually save a considerable amount of money.
No. 3 – Protecting your investment
HVAC systems are not cheap to purchase and install. Proper maintenance is necessary to ensure they are long-lasting.
They can last up to a decade when maintained.
No. 4 – Peace of mind and avoid maintenance emergency
HVAC systems that have not been maintained are worn and thus strained and prone to breakage.
This makes them immensely more likely to suddenly stop working. And that, can create tenant issues along with inconvenient, costly and stressful maintenance emergencies.
5 best practices for an HVAC maintenance list
Created by Evening_tao – Freepik.com
The following five tips outline the best practices for keeping your HVAC systems in optimal working condition, and avoid the headaches discussed above.
- Trust your instincts. If you – or your tenants – are able to notice that something does not feel right, it’s always a good idea to take it seriously. Follow up and investigate. Is the HVAC system suddenly more noisy than usual? Is the heating slower or spotty? Are air flows weak? Do you smell weird odors, especially musty ones? If any of these things are going on, it’s best to call an HVAC professional right away to sort out whether there is an issue that should be addressed and the space is safe.
- Schedule regular maintenance. HVAC professionals are loud and clear when it comes to scheduling maintenance/servicing. Heaters should be checked up every fall. Air conditioners every spring, no excuses. This allows a professional to determine whether the HVAC at your property is running as best as it can, suggest ways for improving efficiency, and most importantly, warn you about potential issues that you were not aware of. Studies have found that up to 95% of all HVAC emergencies could have been avoided if owners had scheduled the recommended seasonal checkups.
- Regularly replace air filters. Air filters should be replaced every 30 to 90 days. Check monthly for any stuck debris or clogs. Households with pets or numerous cohabitants require more frequent changes. Air filters directly contribute to the overall air quality – and thus safety – of the space as they literally filter out impurities and pollutants. Regularly switching used filters with new ones secures proper air flow, which contributes to the working efficiency of you HVAC system. A system operating with clogged or dirty vents can be as much as 50% less efficient.
- Monitor vents and outside units. It’s important to remind tenants that visible indoor vents should not be blocked by furniture or other items. They should regularly cleaned and/or dusted to prevent buildups (dust and various debris are then re-circulated within a space). Outside units need even more care. They should not be obstructed by trees and shrubs, and should be checked regularly to ensure that dirt, leaves and other debris is not inhibiting air flow. Our professionals suggest seeking advice from a professional HVAC company on how to perform safe and effective cleanings, which can then typically be performed without needing to hire added help.
- Ductwork inspections. If your property has ductwork, it should be regularly inspected by a professional. Over time, ducts can become coated in, and even clogged by dust and other debris. They can contain dust mites and other pests. Leaks can also develop, which require sealing to avoid air to escape. Professional HVAC technicians can take care of cleaning and duct sealing, which ensures the HVAC system is performing efficiently and safely.
Most HVAC repairs are caused by poor or lacking maintenance. Our expert HVAC technicians encourage you to invest in regular checkups to keep your HVAC systems running smoothly, for as long as possible.
Indoor heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) are controlled by technologies that specifically work to provide safe air quality and comfortable temperatures for living spaces.
For property or maintenance managers, making sure that HVAC systems are working efficiently should be a priority. Failing to adequately check and upkeep HVAC systems can not only directly lead to costly maintenance emergencies and uncomfortable, angry tenants, but also potentially implicate legal action from those who feel that management has allowed them to become exposed to poorly ventilated/heated spaces.
Other recent rental property maintenance Keepe posts you may have missed:
Keepe is an on-demand maintenance solution for property managers and independent landlords. The company makes hundreds of independent contractors and handymen available for maintenance projects at rental properties. Keepe is available in the Greater Seattle area, Phoenix, San Francisco Bay and San Diego areas.