Universal IFM (UIFM) is a single source for complete HVAC/R service. UIFM will utilize our 1,500 HVAC trade ally service companies across the United States to provide HVAC/R maintenance and reactive services. These companies will be vetted and have a decade or more of high-performance results. Companies must abide by our Vendor Code of Conduct, Business Practices, and Vendor Compliance Obligations.
Analysis & Benchmarketing, Performance Monitoring, Information and Auditing & Strategic Planning and Procurement
24 / 7 / 365
Our technical staff are poised to immediately triage and dispatch our local vendor partners.
Prevent issues by replacing air filters, inspecting and replacing drive belts, lubricating belts and cleaning heat transfer surfaces.
HVAC/R SITE SURVEYS &
Site Surveys and Condition audits provide a benchmark when signing leases, purchasing buildings or looking for upgrades.
Maximize the longevity and effectiveness of its HVAC/R assets it’s critical to provide proper energy based preventive maintenance (PM).
Are you faced with excess space? Universal IFM will proactively manage your closed sites to ensure they are maintained for future use.
- Compare/evaluate maintenance, performance, and operating cost across facilities and/or regions
- Forecast budgets as well as allocate costs among facilities
- Analyze and identify equipment issues before they turn into costly repairs or replacement problems
- Evaluate current equipment conditions, previous repairs, and maintenance
- Better informed decision-making
- Cost-effective prioritization of equipment repairs and replacement
- Uncover maintenance and energy cost savings opportunities
- Reduce exposure to equipment failures and associated consequences with improper repairs or maintenance
24 / 7 / 365 Emergency Service
A strong energy related preventive or predictive maintenance program will greatly reduce HVAC failures, emergency calls, and extended life expectancy. However, equipment will fail eventually.
When it does, Universal IFM will have you covered from coast to coast. Utilizing our 24/7/365 service center, our technical staff are poised to immediately triage and dispatch our local vendor partners. Universal IFM is focused on getting your facility operating with the least amount of disruptions.
Our decades of National HVAC services helped develop our Quality Assurance/Control Program. This experience helps Universal IFM properly vet our vendor network for proper response. From small mini-splits to process chillers, our quick response team will help get your system back to operating efficiently and keep your site or facility comfortable.
- SERVICE CALL TRIAGE – Our technical team of Customer Service Representatives, Engineers as well as Technical Service Managers triage service calls in a bullpen atmosphere with knowledge of your equipment enabling a fast response time and a more efficient repair.
- DATA-DRIVEN – When dispatching an emergency phone call, site equipment is passed along to vendor partners with any historical/warrant data to help in facilitating closure to the emergency service call.
- EXPERIENCED VETTED LOCAL NETWORK – Universal IFM vendor partners are vetted quality local service providers. Our decades of operating national facility services helped develop our Quality Assurance Quality Control (QA/QC) Division. This knowledge assures top quality vendor partner responds to your local facility or site.
Today’s retail professionals are faced with a unique set of challenges when it comes to excess space. To assist in addressing this challenge, Universal IFM offers Dark Store Facilities Management customized to meet your individual needs. Universal IFM will proactively manage your closed sites (owned or leased, vacant or subleased) providing owners with the following:
- Periodic site condition inspections
- Recommendations for repairs, including detailed repair quotes
- HVAC/R preventative maintenance inspections
- Snow removal and landscaping
- Maintenance of the properties to protect the value of the asset
- Ensure lease obligations are being maintained at leased property locations
- Ensure sub-tenants are maintaining lease obligations at sub-leased locations
- Protect against losses from burst pipes at vacant locations
- 24/7/365 emergency and alarm response
- Keep the property in a sellable or leasable condition at all times
Why is it Necessary?
Preventive maintenance is essential to the proper functioning of HVAC equipment. If preventive maintenance is not performed regularly, or if it is done haphazardly, the likelihood of equipment failure increases, and extensive and costly repairs will be required. This is not just a case of “pay me now, or pay me later”; it is a case of “pay me now or pay me considerably more later,” while losing long term reliability in the process.
All mechanical equipment is designed to operate within certain limits. A passenger car, for example is designed to carry the weight of four occupants plus luggage, perhaps 1200 pounds. If you were to load that vehicle with 5000 pounds of weight, catastrophic damage would result. Similarly, if you operated a personal computer in a closed box for a length of time, it would overheat and fail. The damage in both cases is a direct result of the equipment being required to operate under conditions that are far beyond the operating limits set by its designer and builder. Similarly, HVAC equipment also has certain design limits, and if not properly maintained, the equipment will exceed its design limitations, ultimately resulting in catastrophic failure.
The following will explain the specific cause and effect between neglected maintenance tasks, the failures that result, and why preventive maintenance, the failures that result, and why preventive maintenance is necessary.
What is Done During Preventive Maintenance Visits?
Preventive maintenance for the types of HVAC equipment typically found in retail stores consists of several regular, planned inspections each year. While maintenance task lists vary and may be customized to meet specific customer needs, a basic maintenance visit would include: checking for proper operation of the equipment, replacing air filters, inspecting and replacing drive belts, lubricating bearings and moving parts, and cleaning heat transfer surfaces (condenser and evaporator coils). In addition, if the unit utilizes combustion of fossil fuels for heating, the burners will be serviced and cleaned during at least one inspection.
Why Must We Replace Air Filters?
Air conditioning equipment is designed to operate with a specific quantity of air passing over its indoor coil surface, typically between 300 and 400 cubic feet of air/per minute/per ton of air conditioning. When air filters are not replaced at regular intervals, they clog and become coated with dirt. Similarly, the indoor coils get coated with dirt. This dirt blocks a portion of the air flow, which means that the amount of air passing through the unit drops below the 300 cubic feet of air/per ton design specification. In order to overcome the reduced capacity, the equipment must work harder, increasing pressures and run times, in order o provide the same output to the space. Over time, the increased wear will result in catastrophic failures in both heating and cooling modes.
In the cooling mode, if there is not enough air over the indoor coil, the coil temperature drops. When the coil temperature drops below the freezing point, ice forms on the coil, which further reduces the airflow. This reduction in airflow further reduces the coil temperature, which effects the refrigerant and, in turn, the compressor. The compressor within the unit is a pump, which is designed to pump a vapor. As the airflow through the indoor coil drops, it diminishes the amount of heat that is removed from the air passing over the coil, reducing the unit’s ability to vaporize the liquid refrigerant inside the coil’s tubes. Therefore, instead of receiving a vapor, the compressor receives liquid refrigerant. This is commonly known as “liquid slugging.” The effect of “liquid slugging” is similar to the effect of pouring a liquid into cylinders of an operating automobile engine. Because liquids are not compressible, the pressure within the cylinders exceeds the design limit of the cylinder, and the valves, connecting rods, pistons, or other internal components are destroyed. If the unit is part of preventive maintenance program, this problem would be caught before it starts, as the filters will be replaced and coils cleaned. Without preventive maintenance, these common circumstances will lead to one of the most expensive repairs – replacement of the compressor.
In the heating mode, low airflow leads to overheating of the heat exchanger. This tubular steel assembly separates the air being circulated from the flame and the products of combustion. The heat exchanger is designed to operate at a temperature between 120°F and 200°F. If the operating temperature exceeds these temperatures, the heat exchanger oxidizes quickly, reducing its useful life below the anticipated life-span, and increasing the possibility of hazardous cracks and breaks. It makes far more sense to replace air filters regularly than to replace a heat exchanger, which can cost thousands of dollars.
Why Must We Clean Condenser Coils?
As we addressed in the paragraphs above, equipment is designed to operate between certain outdoor temperature limits. Cooling and condensing of the refrigerant vapor is designed to occur with a particular volume of air flowing through the condenser at a maximum outdoor ambient temperature (usually 115°F). If the finned surfaces of the outdoor coils are fouled with dirt, the ability of these coils to transfer heat is reduced and the airflow through the condenser coil is reduced. When the ability to transfer heat is reduced, the operating temperatures and pressure of the unit increase. If the unit’s ability to dissipate heat is reduced, a unit, which may have been designed to operate at ambient temperatures of 115°F or more, may stop operating at an outdoor temperature of 90f. Due to the reduced heat transfer capability, the operating temperatures and pressures within the unit exceed the manufacture’s safe limit and the unit shuts down. If the unit does not exceed the manufacturer’s limits and to require a shut down, it will continue to run at a reduced capacity and efficiency and at an increased rate of wear due to the increased work load. The reduced wear can lead to component failure, especially compressor failure.
Why Must We Replace Drive Belts?
Loose or broken drive belts cause the same problems that dirty filters cause. This is due to the fact that they also cause the airflow through the equipment to be reduced below design limits. In addition, loose drive belts slip on the pulleys that are meant to drive. This wears the groove in the pulley so that when the belt is finally replaced, the new belt is ruined in a short period of time by the worn pulleys. Preventive maintenance helps insure this situation doesn’t arise, and helps or prevents the expensive repair from arising; in this case, replace the $15 belt on a regular basis or spend over $300 replacing pulleys.
Why Inspect Relays and Contractors?
Electrical relays are designed to open and close a predetermined number of times with a particular current load before the contract points are damaged to the degree that the relay required replacement. If more than the design current is passed through this relay due to a motor working too hard, or low voltage conditions, the contract points overheat and become damaged. If the electrical contacts on a contractor (large relay) begin to pit, and the contractor is not replaced, eventually the compressor motor or the fan motor controlled by the contractor will overload and require replacement. Once again, if we exceed the design limitations of the device, or its anticipated life span, additional damage is caused.
Why Must We Lubricate Bearings and Rotating Components?
Bearings and other rotating parts are designed to have a useful life span of hundreds of thousands of hours. However, this projected useful life is based upon the assumption that the bearings will be lubricated at appropriate intervals and the bearing surfaces will not be overloaded due to vibration from defective drive belts or dirty blower wheels. If bearings are not lubricated regularly, they will overheat and seize. When this occurs, the bearings fall apart, and the blower wheel, shaft, and housing are destroyed. This is a prime example of a situation where inexpensive maintenance can prevent expensive, catastrophic failures.
Why Must We Check the Refrigerant Charge on a Regular Basis?
Refrigerant charge must be checked on a regular basis. A unit operating with an insufficient refrigerant charge can ruin its compressor in two ways. The unit may icing up due to a low-pressure condition, causing the compressor to fail due to liquid slugging, as described before. The second type of failure is due to the fact that the compressor requires a certain quantity of cool refrigerant vapor to cool its motor windings. If the refrigerant charge is not sufficient, the motor within the compressor will overheat and fail.
The scenarios described all cause damage to occur over a period of time, usually without being notice by occupants of the conditioned space until failure has occurred. Compressors and indoor blower motors are designed to last for 10 years, provided their design limitations are no exceeded due to poor maintenance or failure of another component. Without preventive maintenance, a typical rooftop unit can ruin its compressor in a little more than one year. As you can see, the life cycle of the unit and its components are severely reduced without proper maintenance.
Regularly scheduled preventive maintenance properly performed, in addition to lowering overall annual HVAC service costs, and reducing the number of emergency calls due to catastrophic failures, will also result in lower utility costs. Properly maintained equipment operates more efficiently.
Universal IFM offers customized preventive maintenance programs designed to suit each client’s specific needs. Geographic location, type of retail facility, usage, and budget are all factors in setting up a customized program. Let us customize an agreement, which meets your individual requirements.
HVACR Site Surveys / Condition Audit
The best time to engage Universal is before signing your lease. Most surveys/audits produce a hit list of current failed components and units in need of replacements. Once completed, the survey/conditioning audit can help your leasing department as a negotiation tool. It also the allows facility managers take over operating efficient HVAC/R units reducing expenditures out of your budget.
We provide a benchmark with each unit recurring a grade status. At this time if requested we will provide information on proper signing of the units for your specific load. Customers will be provided all of the punch list fields requested by our vendor partners. This true evaluation is the foundation of our life cycle of your site assets. Just because a 20-year-old unit seems it should be targeted for replacement, our site survey/condition audit may give it higher grades based on major components already replaced in the unit.
Asset Lifecycle Management
For any business to maximize the longevity and effectiveness of its HVACR assets, it’s critical to provide proper energy based preventive maintenance (PM). Energy based PM not only reduces run time which extending the lifecycle it is also saves on energy at your site.
According to ASHRAE, “the average life expectancy is 15 years with proper maintenance, and with today’s environment it is essential to extend life expectancy.” Proper filtration and clean condenser and evaporator coils are a few ways to keep equipment running smoothly during extreme temperatures. Today’s Freon additions with older units or unattended units can benefit from these injections. Another benefit on proper energy related PM is reduction of repairs and reduction of downtime. Once you engage with Universal IFM, we complete an audit status of the overall condition of the unit but focusing on your unit’s major components.
Once completed we grade the equipment 1-5:
- Poor but Operable
- Cap X Replacement
After evaluation from field and technical in-house, staff customers are presented the ranking results and how we are going to maintain the rankings as well as improve those rankings of budget for Cap X.
If replacement is necessary, our buying power will be utilized and we schedule during the least affected time for your site.
With upgrades of equipment or replacements, Universal IFM offers energy rebates at no additional cost to our customers.
Organizations & Associations
“I recently had commercial roof maintenance done by Universal IFM and would like to say what an excellent job they did! They worked diligently to get the job done in a safe and timely manner. I would highly recommend their services to anyone, and I look forward to using them again in the future.”
Universal IFM is a great company to work with. They are very professional and extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of roofing. They did two large projects for the Boardman Schools this year. They power washed two of our buildings, which extended the roofs’ life expectancy and made them maintainable. They also installed a new roof on one of our larger buildings. For this project, Universal IFM was the single source for the entire project; design through install.