ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — During the discussion in the forum “Methods for Estimating Maintenance Costs” at the 2002 ASHRAE Winter Meeting, it was noted that no original maintenance cost data have been surveyed since about 30 years ago. An attendee declared, “My guess is that 1970s data do not reflect current conditions.”

A Canadian engineer said that people are just indexing their old data up to the present. ASHRAE is now looking for new data to update maintenance cost information.

Another engineer noted that maintenance cost is part of life-cycle cost analysis. “How do you justify the numbers? Your analysis is seen as flawed if you can’t justify your numbers.”

For performance contracting, maintenance costs can make or break the program, an attendee said. “You can have a wide variance using different software programs and different approaches.”

Another stated, “When we maintain equipment, we make adjustments. We know what it should cost to maintain different pieces of equipment.” But one person said that he got service prices that were all over the map for equipment at his small shop.

“Looking at energy, could you measure energy per square foot and correlate it with maintenance per square foot?” it was asked. Maintenance depends on building use, location, types of equipment, and the number of units.

Also, labor cost varies across the country. “You must look at hours to do a job, then build in labor cost.”

We need a hybrid approach, said another, such as man-hours per ton-hour, to factor in use of equipment. An educator suggested that maybe ASHRAE needs to do some research and let the research lead what needs to be done in this area — collect some numbers and then massage the data.

An ASHRAE member said, “I think we’re looking for electronic ways to do this, so the data is up-to-date. Books go out of date very quickly.”

Basically, ASHRAE would like to get data from a significant number of companies to develop a statistically valid sampling of maintenance cost information.

NOTE: Forums at the ASHRAE Winter Meeting are off-the-record discussions of current topics of interest in the hvacr industry. Attendees who comment cannot be identified by name in order to ensure the free flow of ideas.

Publication date: 03/18/2002