Commercial HVAC: Do it Right the First Time

In the commercial world, it’s pretty commonplace to award contracted installation jobs to the “lowest bidder.” While we’re all trying to “save a buck,” there are times when that “savings” is more a product of foresight than it is of “instant gratification” with regard to the immediate servicing of the bottom line. This is especially true when it comes to a commercial entity’s environmental HVAC solution.

Sure, the cheapest bid will get your install in and out of the way in what looks like a good choice on the surface. But what’s the real cost?

Recently we had a property manager contact us to help him figure out why his operating costs were exceeding his initial expectations of an installation he had initiated with “a low bidder” a few years ago. The job consisted of the purchase and implementation of new high-efficiency boilers at 14 separate sites. The sale was on the idea that these new boilers would operate at a more proficient rate and save the company money in comparison to the older boilers that had previously been in place. After a few years of collecting and analyzing utility bill data it became clear that the new high-efficiency boilers were actually running up a higher operating cost than the “out-of-date” boilers. But, how? Why? What? Sometimes the questions pile up like stacks of outgoing cash.

After showing up to assess the situation we found in our on-site(s) review that each of the respective boilers had:

  • Incorrect programming
  • Failed pumps
  • Lack of maintenance
  • Installation deficiencies

All of the aforementioned issues greatly affect the performance of the boilers, the wellbeing of not only the equipment, but the property as a whole, and, thus, the bottom line. The other “unseen” issue with choosing the low bid in this instance was, this particular property manager was now in the position of “holding the bag” in the sense that the company that installed these units has long been out of business. No track record, or a lack of building a positive track record had long set him on the course of “a new path.” That in no way helps a past customer in need of a little assistance. You’re not only losing money, you’re now losing time because you have to find a new HVAC service provider to come help you out and tell you what went wrong and how to move forward.

In assessing the right contractor for any job, you need to do your homework and make sure that the capabilities of the chosen contractor are reputable and validated. If there’s no track record, they’re coming in low because they’re trying to build a “portfolio.” This doesn’t bode well for your future. There’s a lot of value in the security of experience.

Ask questions. You’re allowed to. Assessing numbers on a sheet of paper isn’t always telling you the whole story.

Here are a few things to look for:

  • Factory trained personnel – If these certifications aren’t prominently and proudly presented on the contractor’s website, ask.
  • Proper test equipment (combustion analyzers, etc.) – Any contractor worth their salt has the tools necessary to assure that your assessment and installation are being done correctly, effectively, and safely. If these tools aren’t a part of the job, the company your choosing hasn’t invested into the best practices of the industry. That’s not good.
  • Depth of staff – Size isn’t always a deal breaker, but if you’re hiring a single man shop, you have to wonder just how meritable the practice is.
  • References – If they balk at this, or can’t provide you with an assortment of sources at will, there’s an issue.

Sometimes the cheapest solution isn’t the cheapest at all.

Do it right the first time, save money, and earn immediate peace of mind.

For further questions, feel free to reach out to us at Suburban Companies at any time. We’re here to help manage and initiate your commercial HVAC installation and maintenance jobs so you can focus on managing the other important aspects of your business.

Take Comfort with Suburban.