Repair, Replace, or Rent: How Rental Solutions Can Meet Your Emergency Cooling Needs
As the summer season approaches, so do hotter temperatures, severe weather, and greater demand for a building’s cooling system, increasing the risk of unexpected equipment failure and the need for emergency or supplemental cooling.
These disruptions can occur for many reasons: high winds, hurricanes, or tornadoes; blackouts due to an overly strained utility grid; or even equipment within the building that’s past its life expectancy.
Advanced planning for emergency situations is critical. By stocking up on parts for repairs, providing back-up equipment for replacement, and creating an emergency rental plan, mechanical contractors can proactively solve their customers’ cooling problems.
Know the 3Rs : Repair, Replace, or Rent
Equipment downtime can result in business interruption that’s costly for your customers. In an industrial facility, equipment downtime can cost up to $1 million a day or more. In commercial real estate, property managers face angry tenants in retail spaces who are losing thousands of dollars a day in revenue. With these high-stakes situations, think through your options — repair, replace, or rent — and determine which solution will reduce downtime, decrease costs, and keep your customers happy.
Consult on Repair versus Replace
Deciding whether to repair or replace a piece of cooling equipment or system is not always an easy decision, and there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration. Facilities’ spending time and money on maintenance remains low — oftentimes, units don’t receive maintenance at all until they fail. That’s why it’s important to be prepared to consult with your customers on what repair or replacement options are available and how they may impact their business.
The age of the equipment and health of the system is the first key factor to consider when deciding whether to repair or replace a cooling unit. Most units are built to last approximately 15 to 20 years, but environmental factors such as heat, rain, and dust can shorten those lifespans considerably. A unit that has been properly maintained will operate more efficiently and have a longer life cycle. In this scenario, repairing will most-likely save your customer time and money. If the unit is older and has an extensive repair history, replacing the aging system could provide your customer with the best long-term outcome.
It's also important to discuss the reason for the downed unit — what’s not working? Do you have the parts you need for repair? If major components are failing, it’s likely time to recommend a replacement that can be installed quickly and perform for years down the road.
Capacity is another significant factor. Talk to your customers to determine if their current capacity can keep up with peak demands. If not, a repair may get them by in the short term, but it isn’t the most cost-effective solution in the long run. It might be a good time to talk about replacement with a higher-capacity unit that can adequately perform in more extreme temperatures.
In addition, it’s important to assess how quickly you can repair or replace. Do you need to order a new unit for replacement or a spare part for repair? Most large rooftop units are generally made to order, as manufacturers utilize ‘just in time’ practices. They don’t manufacture equipment until an order is placed, so you have to be ready to meet the needs in the gap. When repairing a chiller or air-handler, each situation and customer is unique, and things don’t always unfold like you think they will. Three days of downtime could turn into three weeks. This makes it vital to be prepared to leverage the third R — rental.
Have an Emergency Rental Partner
Partnering with a rental equipment provider who can deliver supplemental equipment during peak season positions you to proactively help your customers when they need you most. Rental support may include the deployment of portable air conditioning units for spot cooling or fully engineered solutions that involve the setup of large rooftop units, chillers, and air handlers.
If rental is part of your solution, select a rental company who will work hand-in-hand with you to create an emergency cooling rental plan for your customers, leveraging you to confidently address equipment failures and other unexpected situations.
Developing a Rental Plan
A rental plan is a roadmap to help you navigate most any emergency situation. Not every job or customer is the same, and having an extra partner to provide a wide range of flexible solutions and equipment will help you mitigate risk and create customized solutions for every application.
There are several items included in an emergency rental plan that help you and your rental partner respond quickly to minimize downtime and costs for your customers:
Risk assessment. Identifies the potential causes for an interruption and ranks them based on cost impact, probability of occurrence, and system downtime.
Equipment identification. Documents all the HVAC systems and their operating conditions to help uncover system weaknesses that can be proactively addressed with maintenance or repair.
Temporary equipment location. Identifies equipment location in order to determine how much electrical cable, chilled water hose, and/or flex duct will be required.
Electrical connection. Establishes the location of the temporary electrical connection(s) and how they will be made.
System connection. Determines how and where connections are made to help save time and money. It’s important to choose a location that’s easily accessible and requires the least amount of temporary installation material.
Power availability. Documents the available voltage(s) and amperage in case a transformer or generator is needed. Even if power has not been affected, some temporary units may require more power than your customers’ existing units.
During peak demand it’s not uncommon for equipment and resources to become limited. Be sure you’re partnering with rental companies who proactively help you develop and implement strategies to quickly respond to your customers’ needs — ensuring you meet or exceed their expectations. With proper preparation, temporary cooling solutions can be installed quickly and efficiently so you can keep critical building functions operating with minimal disruption.
Whether you repair, replace, or rent, time is your most critical factor — quickly getting the system back up and running, while keeping costs in check, will help keep your customers happy and operational. Regardless of the solution you provide, staying prepared and being ready for emergency cooling situations will give you a competitive edge.
Ready to take our assessment? Download the Emergency Cooling Scorecard to check your readiness to address interruptions or system failures during a cooling emergency or call (855) 477-7666 for a custom cooling consultation.