17 May, 2022 | Posted by Colm McDonnell

Pros and Cons of Reactive Maintenance in Facilities Management

Previously, we explored the two different kinds of maintenance in facilities and workplace management, planned maintenance and reactive maintenance.

We looked at what sets them apart and the different scenarios where they are employed. You can read that piece here.

Now we are going to take an even closer look at reactive maintenance and the pros and cons associated with it as a maintenance method.


Reactive maintenance, as the name might suggest, occurs in reaction to a mechanical failure. It is the process of repairing assets to standard operating conditions after poor performance or breakdown is observed.

While it might sound counter-intuitive, reactive maintenance, sometimes called run-to-failure maintenance, is a legitimate and often used maintenance technique.

There are two types of reactive maintenance, emergency maintenance and corrective maintenance.

Emergency maintenance is when immediate action is required to keep an asset operational. It usually occurs when a threat is posed to health and safety or the operations of the company. When needed, it will overtake the necessity of other activities until the issue is resolved.

Corrective maintenance is when an extreme disruption in the procedure has not yet occurred but there have been signs of future breakdown. This can be one part of a larger asset showing signs of fault. This can be corrected before a much larger and more disruptive breakdown occurs.

There are pros and cons that are associated with reactive maintenance as a strategy. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Pros of Reactive Maintenance
  1. Cost – reactive maintenance requires very little in the way of initial costs. You don’t have to pay for constant inspections to ensure that the asset in question is performing to standard in comparison to planned maintenance.
  2. Less planning required – this one might sound a bit obvious, but there is a lot less planning when it comes to reactive maintenance. Action only begins when a breakdown occurs. In this way, you have more freedom to focus on other things.
  3. Suited to a certain type of asset – reactive maintenance is suited more to assets of a certain description. Assets with a shorter lifespan, financially less valuable assets, or assets that are integral to operations all fit into this category.
Cons of Reactive Maintenance
  1. Repair costs – while initial costs associated with reactive maintenance are quite low, you will inevitably incur more significant costs upon the breakdown of the asset you are monitoring. This is why reactive maintenance is commonly used with assets that are not as expensive to repair or replace.
  2. Unsuitable for certain assets – as mentioned above, reactive maintenance is suited to certain assets and, therefore, unsuitable for others. Assets with a high cost of repair or replacement fall into this category as the money saved on not requiring constant inspection does not outweigh the cost of repair or replacement

Read More

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