Why Deferred Maintenance is, and Should Continually be, a No-No

The phrase “You have to spend money to make money,” probably sounds familiar. The connotation may seem enigmatic, especially when the short- or long-term benefits of investing funds appear unclear or nonexistent. When it comes to preventive maintenance, however, spending money has the potential to help save money, and the advantages of doing so are substantial. Addressing maintenance tasks with a proactive approach as opposed to a reactive method has been proven to be incredibly valuable. Contrarily, deferring maintenance responsibilities increases the likelihood of additional issues arising that could have initially been avoided.  Taking the time to practice preventive maintenance procedures upfront by regularly examining equipment, appliances, and supplies has the power to help avoid future expenses, repairs, replacements, and headaches.

Preventive maintenance can be represented by many different tasks and duties depending on what type of equipment is involved, but the underlying definition remains consistent across the board. Bradley Company’s Terri Thompson, Director of Property Management (Northern IN), defines the preventative maintenance as,

“Maintenance that is performed on equipment on a regularly scheduled basis in an effort to prolong or extend its lifespan and prevent failures or unexpected breakdowns.”

Preventive maintenance ensures that equipment is in good condition to maximize value and increase longevity. Declining to commit to a precautionary strategy can result in serious consequences. Oftentimes, the effects of deferred maintenance create burdens that take considerable time to recover from.

One significant issue that can emerge from deferred maintenance is the loss of equipment for a period of time. This is especially critical when major systems such as HVAC, ranges/ovens, or refrigerators come into play. If an HVAC malfunctions, tenants are subject to external temperatures, whether that’s too hot or too cold.  Without an oven or a stove, tenants must resort to dining out which can be expensive. If the refrigerator goes out, any existing food will spoil. Using temporary equipment only adds to the already expensive situation.  Being proactive not only allows you to solve problems sooner, but it saves time, money, and a lot of stress. 

Holding off on maintenance may be tempting when problems are in the early stages and seem minor.  However, one of the greatest risks of deferred maintenance is that issues often magnify over time.  Not only could this increase the amount of money needed to solve the problem, but it could also compromise the equipment’s efficiency. Repairing and/or replacing equipment can be costly, especially in emergency situations. Domino effects can also occur. As problems escalate, they might damage other appliances, floors, and more. This could eventually jeopardize safety. Extra trouble can surely be avoided by incorporating preventive maintenance plans and actively executing them for the preservation and protection of equipment and buildings. 

For preventive maintenance to be effective, a detailed strategy should be implemented. Terri Thompson stated that,

“Adequate plans vary and depend specifically on the equipment involved and the manufacturer’s recommendations.”

It is critical to take these factors into consideration when formulating a plan to proactively prevent maintenance issues. The four categories to include are as follows:

  1. What to examine:
    Equipment
    Location  

  2. Frequency:
    How often examinations occur

  3. What to look for:
    Checklist
    Standards
    Warning signs

  4. Emergency solutions:
    Temporary alternative
    Creative solutions

Tailoring a plan to fit the needs of the equipment can make all the difference in the lifespan of your appliances.

Choosing to be proactive or reactive in regard to maintenance is a crucial decision in property management. Though there are many advantages of being proactive, one of the greatest is having peace of mind. A proactive approach preserves working equipment, keeps tenants satisfied, maintains safety, and saves time and money. Remember the phrase “You’ve got to spend money to save money.” Invest now, save later.


Bradley Company provides comprehensive property and facility maintenance services for clients of all sizes. We help reduce costs and improve service by implementing and managing processes that yield tangible results. For more information on our technical services, click here.