How To Use Root Cause Analysis in Your Maintenance Program

Let’s take a moment to imagine a typical day on the job. You’re in the middle of a daily facility inspection when you notice something is up with your outdoor HVAC unit. You hear an unusual noise, which falls in line with some minor performance issues you’ve had recently. The unit seems to be running at full capacity during the day, but it’s not quite reaching your set temperature by midday. You call your maintenance team to schedule a consultation for the following day, and the technician says they’ve fixed the problem by that afternoon. 

Fast forward a month, and you’re running into similar issues with the same unit. You’re still hearing that noise, and even though the temperature inside improved for a few days, now it’s back to cooling inefficiently. When something like this happens, it’s likely because the technician fixed the symptom of the issue, but not the root cause. 

Root cause analysis (RCA) in maintenance is the range of practices and tools used to diagnose maintenance issues and reduce the likelihood of repeated issues within your main systems. If you want to implement root cause analysis in your maintenance program, you need to know the three R’s and teach them to your maintenance staff as the primary method for maintenance diagnostics. 

The Three R’s of RCA

MaintenX uses the three R’s to correctly diagnose root causes of maintenance issues and improve your preventative maintenance strategies for long-term performance efficiency. The three R’s of maintenance diagnostics include:


When your maintenance team comes out to fix an issue, they must first recognize the complaint as a symptom of an underlying issue rather than as the issue itself. A noisy HVAC unit or backed-up pipe is not the problem, but rather the symptom of a performance or handling issue of the system itself. 


Once your team has diagnosed the root cause, they can begin remedying the issue with repairs and corrective action. Corrective action includes improved preventative care, change in the operation of the appliance to prevent issues, or other corrections to the facility maintenance program to avoid the root cause issue in the future. 


Finally, the maintenance team will replicate this solution in other parts of the facility to ensure the same issue does not pop up in other systems or areas of the building. For example, if HVAC cleaning has been neglected, a revamping of the entire building’s preventative maintenance schedule will be necessary.

Using this process, you can better take care of your facility and stop performance issues at their source. To learn more about RCA best practices and applications in commercial facilities, visit our Resource Center for help. 

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