Three Strategies for Multifamily HVAC Risk Management

Another change of seasons has come and gone and brought another cycle of cooling to heating our buildings. Now is a good opportunity to take a look at HVAC-related risk maintenance strategies to ensure your building’s heating and cooling properties are safe and operating at peak performance. 

How do you prevent an unwanted HVAC surprise? Recognizing early signs of a problem and planning for the unexpected are both key to HVAC risk management. If businesses have learned anything in the past couple of years, it’s to prepare for the unexpected. Equipment failure and malfunctions might seem to come out of nowhere, but there are generally signs. Some signs are obvious and others become apparent with proper preventative maintenance.

The following risk management strategies can help ensure your multi-tenant HVAC assets operate safely, efficiently and effectively: 

Fire Prevention

Prehistoric humans might have conquered fire, but fire continues to affect people every day. An average of 45,900 heating fires occur in residential buildings each year, averaging in 205 deaths, 725 injuries and a whopping $506 million in property loss, according to the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Data Center. 

While fire risks are everywhere, heating buildings plays a significant role. In fact, heating leads all other causes of residential fires with the exception of cooking. National Fire Prevention Week offers buildings owners and operators the perfect opportunity to practice fire prevention and HVAC risk maintenance. 

Regular preventative maintenance of HVAC equipment is a first step in managing the risk of heating fires in multitenant buildings. Faulty wiring and system overloads are leading causes of fires. Replacing and repairing equipment is also vital to preventing a fire-inducing malfunction. 

As part of seasonal maintenance, ensure equipment is free of debris and flammable materials. If tenants complain of malfunctioning heating equipment, address the issues promptly to discourage the use of unsafe space heaters and other temporary heating measures. 

Preventative Maintenance

Regular preventative maintenance is one of the most important risk management strategies a multitenant property owner and operator can take. Through preventative maintenance, building operators can help to prevent the need for sudden repairs and replacements, thereby boosting resident satisfaction and making the property manager’s job easier. 

An effective preventative maintenance strategy can’t be accomplished once or twice a year. While the precise frequency varies depending on the size of the property and its HVAC assets, an effective preventative maintenance strategy requires careful planning. Creating a thorough preventative maintenance checklist and coordinating schedule help ensure an effective risk maintenance strategy.

Regularly cleaning and inspecting equipment not only helps promote safety and prevent malfunction, but it also helps to promote occupant wellness, reduce energy bills and extend the life cycle of the equipment. 

Data Analytics

Many new HVAC units feature computers and microprocessors which generate data on the system’s operation. You can see how much energy is being used, how efficiently it heats and cools the property and analyze the data for trends.

Motili uses a proprietary HVAC indexing system that can predict equipment failure. The MACI, also known as the Mobile Asset condition Index , examines a large data set of HVAC systems in single-family, multi-family and commercial properties across the United States. It focuses on data indicators such as a system’s age, condition, energy efficiency and refrigerant type to assign properties a score that helps owners and operators keep building systems running smooth and boost tenant satisfaction. 

Through MACI, property owners boost tenant satisfaction by proactively replacing aging HVAC and plumbing assets and improve business operations by creating an executive overview to help in the planning of capital expenditures within an entire portfolio. 

Likewise, Motili’s multi-family HVAC asset management product enables owners and operators to make intelligent, proactive decisions about their HVAC and hot water management. By tagging and tracking a property’s assets, the program offers valuable insights to optimize maintenance, repairs and replacements. In fact, Motili multitenant customers have seen 20-percent increases in resident satisfaction thanks to a more proactive approach to HVAC and hot water management. 

“We’re able to give a true forecast a few years out and look at not just one or two buildings, but across the nationwide portfolio, helping a multi-family conglomerate find tens of millions of dollars through savings and optimization. It often makes more sense to spread your investment over a multi-year period,” said Motili Vice President Matthew Sallee.

“It’s a complex equation, but without the data you just can’t do it. We know how to quickly capture accurate data, analyze it, and help visualize and explain it, so our customers can manage that equation.”


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