What is Reactive Maintenance?


Reactive maintenance are repairs that are completed after equipment has already broken down. Reactive maintenance focuses on restoring the equipment to operating conditions as close to normal as possible.

Emergency repairs cost signficantly more than planned repairs, so maintenance plans that rely on reactive maintenance are generally the most expensive. Reactive maintenance is so expensive because shutdowns often happen during peak occupancy periods (instead of during off hours). In addition, because of the need to perform repairs as quickly as possible, operators may need to rely more on expensive outside services instead of in-house maintenance staff.

Why it Matters

Advantages of Reactive Maintenance

  • Lower initial costs – Save money on the upfront cost of systems
  • No planning needed – Technicians repair equipment when it fails. Since fails are unpredictable, no time is spent planning the repairs

Disadvantages of Reactive Maintenance

  • Difficult to control budgets – As equipment failures can be unpredictable, staff may not be readily available so organizations may end up paying a premium for third party services, travel time and over time
  • Shorter life expectancy of assets – Reactive maintenance does not keep equipment running in optimal condition. Over time, these systems deteriorate more quickly than those consistently tuned.
  • Time consuming – Reactive repairs tend to take longer due to a number of factors including time to diagnose, travel time, time to pull parts and correct manuals
  • Sporadic equipment downtime – Planned maintenance can be performed when most of the building is unoccupied whereas unplanned repairs happen anytime
  • Interferes with planned work – Emergency repairs are usually prioritized at the expense of planned work. Planned work may be pushed or cancelled completely
  • Repeat issues – Reactive maintenance does the bare minimum to get the equipment up and running again. If not repaired correctly, the issue could reoccur and cause more downtime
  • Higher energy costs – When equipment is not properly maintained, it uses more energy.

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