Murph on Maintenance; The Voice of Experience Chimes in on Building Systems Maintenance Costs

Catchy title, don’t you think; perhaps another blog stream at some point Michael?

Statistical data bases, like the ones for building system maintenance cost that I discussed in my last post, are all well and good. But there is nothing like the voice of experience to give you some confidence and provide a cross-check on reality.

Working at FDE, I find that I am blessed with something in the range of 60 or so voices of experience with unique insights that I have availed myself of on topics as varied as commissioning, control system design, installation and operation, BSLs, testing and balancing, cutting edge research, down-hill skiing, accounting and payroll practices, medical and insurance practices; dealing with time sheet and expense account errors from spacey middle aged engineers; the list is probably just about endless.

That said, one of the voices that emerged in our recent e-mail discussion about maintenance cost was that of Murphy O’Dea, one of our engineers with experience as a facilities engineer at Chrysler. Murph generously and enthusiastically a gave the go-ahead to share with you what he shared with us the other day. So with out further a due, here is what he had to say.

The only thing we did at Chrysler was to peruse the PvM, PdM, and trouble call work orders in our MMS (Maintenance Management System similar to Maximo), and use those costs. For a SWG, you might figure:

Main AHUs:

60 hours/yr + $2000/yr (not including filters…) for parts = $6000/yr


Hot Water – 30 hrs/yr + cost of pump every 5 years (say $8000 every 5 years…?)

Cold Water – 30 hrs/yr + cost of pump every 10 years.

Boilers (200 HP and up)

120 hrs/yr + $10,000/yr for refractory, tube punches, contracted services, etc…

Large chillers (centrifugal or large screw) and air compressors (centrifugal)

100 hrs/yr + $10000/yr for parts (expensive parts ;-)) and contracted services PLUS about ½ the cost of the machine for a major overhaul every 10 years.  For us, this was about $100,000 for either a 1200 Ton McQuay or York Centrifugal, or a 2400 CFM IR air compressor.

The OEMs will tell you to use much less, but it’s probably optimistic (Murph actually used a more colorful expression here, but I figured I probably should edit it a bit to keep Michael from getting irrate phone calls from senior editors).

In my opinion, if the equipment space allowed for economical replacement (open layout, no piping removal), most large rotating equipment would be cheaper to do Maintenance (Major) By Replacement – Heresy!

Smaller Equipment(Small AHUs, packaged equipment, etc…)

30 hrs/yr + $500/yr parts?

So there you have it, the opinion of a guy who has been there and done it. Thanks to Murph for sharing what he knows and setting an example for the rest of us.  What I mean by that is that you can lend your “voice of experience” to the growing database of information available in the ASHRAE Service Life and Maintenance Cost data bases that I mentioned in my previous post.

Both tools provide a port for you to submit applicable information that you might have.  So, if you know something about these topics from your own experience, consider taking a moment to share it with the rest of the industry.  I’m sure the information will help us make better use of the resources our facilities represent, and I bet the effort will give you a little twinge of pride and satisfaction for doing your part.

David Sellers
Senior Engineer – Facility Dynamics Engineering

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