Preventive Maintenance: What is it And Why it is Important

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Periodic maintenance is necessary to make sure everything keeps working properly at home. Preventive strategies offer the best combination of effectiveness and cost savings, and ensure the systems and structure of your home or business remain sound. Even the most basic preventive maintenance can save you thousands of dollars, so keep this guide handy as a useful resource.

What is Preventive Maintenance?

Preventive maintenance – commonly referred to as preventative maintenance – is a method for reducing the likelihood of something failing. This type of upkeep is performed while an item – anything from a roof to electrical outlets – is still in use. Through observations, inspections and periodic repairs, preventive maintenance has the goal of preventing total failure.

Although preventive strategies may seem like the only way to go, there are two other types of maintenance as well. Here are short definitions of each:

  • Reactive Maintenance: When no maintenance is performed at all. A system is just run until it breaks down. This is why it’s often referred to as “breakdown maintenance.”
  • Predictive Maintenance: Condition monitoring is used to predict potential failure. Maintenance is planned based on the actual condition of an item.

Reactive maintenance is the simplest of these measures, but it’s also the most expensive over time. Businesses that switch from reactive to preventive maintenance, for instance, saw cost savings of nearly 20 percent. And while preventive tactics are often viewed as less effective than predictive maintenance, it’s also a much more affordable strategy.

Preventive maintenance falls between reactive and predictive on the complexity scale. This makes it the perfect middle ground for those who might not be as tech savvy but still want to ensure their property remains in top form.

Types of Preventive Maintenance

There are countless preventive maintenance tactics out there, but they all fall into one of two categories: time-based or usage-based. Each type has its own benefits and is focused on avoiding breakdowns between maintenance periods. Below is a better explanation of each:

Time-Based Maintenance

When something is serviced at regular intervals of time, it’s considered time-based preventive maintenance. Having your yard sprayed for termites every few months is a great example. By doing so, you’re lessening the likelihood of having to pay for wood damage down the road.

Usage-Based Maintenance

When upkeep is based on the actual use of an item, it’s referred to as usage-based preventive maintenance. The light on a refrigerator that notifies you when the water filter needs to be changed is an example. Changing your oil every 3,000 miles is another.

Which Type of Maintenance is Best?

It wouldn’t make sense to say that usage or time-based approaches are better than one another. Each strategy could be ideal in different situations. While replacing overhead lighting should obviously be usage-based, raking up leaves from around your home’s foundation should be done weekly. As long as you choose a preventive maintenance strategy that’s effective at minimizing breakdowns and damage, you’ve made the right choice.

Why is Preventive Maintenance Important?

Proper preventive maintenance is important for a variety of reasons. One of the most obvious is related to cost savings. Failing to maintain any system becomes very expensive due to unplanned and random breakdowns. Paying for damages caused by termites, for instance, has a cost that's 1,100 percent higher than simply having periodic visits from your local pest control.

You can also imagine how failure to repair minor issues can become especially costly when it comes to keeping out the elements. A full 20 percent of all insurance claims are directly linked to water intrusion, so not replacing a damaged shingle can quickly become expensive. Additionally, a properly maintained structure or system will retain a higher resell value over time.

Preventive maintenance is also an environmentally friendly strategy in most cases. An HVAC unit that’s not properly maintained, for instance, will use more energy as it slowly starts to break down. This is true with just about any appliance in a home or business. A sudden increase in utility bills can be a telltale sign that a system in the home needs maintenance.

Necessary Preventive Maintenance

There’s no all-inclusive guide to preventive maintenance in the home. After all, every home is different and thus requires varying upkeep. There are certain issues, though, faced by the majority of citizens. The following are some of the most common preventive maintenance necessities out there.

Keep Out Water

  • Install rain gutters to protect building’s foundation.
  • Leaves should be cleared from gutter at least twice a year.
  • Use a hose or plumber’s snake to flush out clogged drainpipes.
  • Inspect washers on outdoor faucet and hose periodically.
  • Check for roof leaks in the attic every few months.

Weekly Preventive Maintenance

  • Rake leaves and debris away from home and buildings on property.
  • Clean out any leaves and debris built up in basement window wells.
  • Vacuum carpet at least once a week.

Monthly Preventive Maintenance

  • Clean fan blades and kitchen’s exhaust fan filter.
  • Vacuum refrigerator coils, heat registers and vents.
  • Perform visual inspection checking dishwasher for leaks.
  • Pour water into any drains you don’t use.
  • Check HVAC air filters.

Yearly Preventive Maintenance

  • Fill any exterior cracks with stucco.
  • Use turtle wax on any marble countertops.
  • Schedule septic tank inspection (if applicable).
  • Check for lint buildup in clothes dryer vent and hose.
  • Check expiration date and pressure on fire extinguishers.
  • Drain water heater.
  • Apply caulk to sinks, tubs and showers.
  • Contact a roofing expert for a professional damage inspection.

These are just a few of the most important preventive maintenance strategies you should be utilizing. Fortunately, many of these tips don’t require a professional to accomplish. In fact, the driving goal for most of them is to avoid the need to call out an expert for repair. And while this list may seem extensive, it’s important to note that most of these actions are only required sporadically throughout the year.

Preventive Maintenance is Essential

From HVAC inspections to quickly repairing a leaking roof, preventive maintenance is essential for both homes and businesses. The cost savings alone make these routines worthwhile. By remaining vigilant in this matter, you’ll also extend the useful life of structural elements, appliances and machinery. Make sure you remain consistent based on either time or usage, and you’ll find that preventive maintenance is the ideal solution.


Termite Savings

HVAC Return on Investment

Roof Leak Statistics