What is Corrective Maintenance? Definition & Examples

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What is Corrective Maintenance?

What is Corrective Maintenance?

Corrective maintenance refers to the reactive repair or restoration of equipment, machinery, or systems following a malfunction, breakdown, or failure. Unlike preventive maintenance, which focuses on proactive upkeep to prevent issues, corrective maintenance occurs in response to unexpected incidents or faults.

Key aspects of corrective maintenance include:

  1. Incident Response: Addressing equipment failures or issues promptly after they occur, aiming to restore functionality and minimize downtime.
  2. Diagnosis and Repair: Identifying the root cause of the problem and performing repairs, replacements, or adjustments to resolve the issue and return the equipment to operational status.
  3. Unplanned Nature: Corrective maintenance is unplanned and reactive, initiated only when a problem arises, and typically does not follow a predetermined schedule.
  4. Documentation: Recording details of the incident, repairs made, parts replaced, and any other pertinent information for future reference or analysis.

Corrective maintenance aims to swiftly rectify unexpected failures or malfunctions, ensuring equipment resumes its intended functionality and minimizing the impact of unplanned downtime on operations.

How Are Corrective Maintenance Needs Identified?

How Are Corrective Maintenance Needs Identified?

Corrective maintenance needs are often identified through various indicators and observations within an organization:

  1. Equipment Failure: Instances where equipment or machinery stops functioning as intended, leading to production halts, performance issues, or safety concerns.
  2. Monitoring Systems: Utilizing monitoring tools or sensors that detect anomalies, unusual behavior, or deviations from normal equipment performance metrics.
  3. Work Orders or Incident Reports: Generated when employees or operators notice issues, malfunctions, or safety hazards with equipment during their operational activities.
  4. Routine Inspections: Scheduled or periodic inspections that uncover potential problems or signs of wear and tear, indicating the need for corrective action.
  5. Maintenance Histories: Reviewing historical maintenance records to identify recurring issues, frequent breakdowns, or components requiring frequent repairs.
  6. Feedback and Communication: Listening to feedback from maintenance personnel, equipment operators, or other staff regarding observed abnormalities or recurring problems with machinery or systems.

These methods help organizations detect signs of equipment failure or malfunction, prompting the need for corrective maintenance actions to restore equipment functionality and prevent further disruptions.

Examples of Corrective Maintenance

Corrective maintenance encompasses various scenarios where equipment failures or malfunctions require reactive repair or restoration. Here are some examples:

  1. Machine Breakdown: A manufacturing machine suddenly stops functioning, halting production, and requiring immediate repairs to resume operations.
  2. Component Failure: A critical component within an HVAC system fails, causing heating or cooling issues in a building, necessitating immediate replacement or repair.
  3. Electrical Malfunction: An electrical system failure results in power outage or circuit breakdown, requiring troubleshooting and repair to restore electricity.
  4. Leak or Pipe Burst: A water pipe bursts in a facility, leading to flooding or water damage, requiring prompt repair to prevent further damage and ensure safety.
  5. Software or System Crash: A software system experiences a crash or malfunction, disrupting operations and requiring immediate troubleshooting and restoration.
  6. Equipment Misalignment: Mechanical equipment misaligns, causing vibration, noise, or reduced efficiency, necessitating realignment or adjustment to restore optimal performance.

These examples highlight situations where unexpected equipment failures or malfunctions occur, prompting the need for corrective maintenance to rectify the issues and restore normal functionality.

Benefits of Corrective Maintenance

5 Preventive Maintenance Benefits That Highlight Its Importance

Corrective maintenance, while reactive in nature, offers several benefits within an organization:

  1. Cost-Efficiency: It can be cost-effective as resources are only allocated when an issue arises, reducing upfront maintenance expenses compared to proactive maintenance strategies.
  2. Immediate Resolution: Addresses equipment failures promptly, minimizing downtime and allowing for swift restoration of operations.
  3. Focused Attention: Allows maintenance teams to concentrate efforts on urgent issues as they occur, ensuring immediate attention to critical problems.
  4. Flexible Resource Allocation: Enables flexible allocation of resources based on immediate needs, optimizing resource usage across different maintenance tasks.
  5. Diagnostic Insights: Provides valuable insights into recurring issues or failure patterns, aiding in the identification of root causes and potential preventive measures.
  6. Risk Mitigation: Helps mitigate risks associated with equipment failure by restoring functionality promptly and preventing further damage or safety hazards.

While corrective maintenance is reactive and does not prevent issues, its prompt response to unexpected failures allows organizations to minimize disruptions and swiftly address equipment malfunctions or breakdowns.

Maximizing Corrective Maintenance

Maximizing the effectiveness of corrective maintenance involves several strategies aimed at optimizing its outcomes:

  1. Root Cause Analysis: Conduct thorough investigations to identify the underlying causes of failures and implement measures to prevent recurring issues.
  2. Data-Driven Insights: Analyze maintenance records and failure data to identify patterns, trends, or common failure modes, enabling better-targeted corrective actions.
  3. Proactive Monitoring: Implement predictive maintenance techniques using sensors or monitoring systems to anticipate potential failures before they occur.
  4. Efficient Response: Develop rapid response protocols and efficient workflows to ensure quick and effective reactions to equipment failures or malfunctions.
  5. Continuous Improvement: Implement a feedback loop to gather insights from corrective maintenance activities, fostering a culture of learning and continuous improvement.
  6. Training and Skill Enhancement: Provide training and development opportunities to maintenance teams, empowering them with the skills needed to diagnose and address complex issues.
  7. Prioritization of Tasks: Establish clear criteria for prioritizing corrective maintenance tasks based on criticality, safety concerns, or operational impact.

By implementing these strategies, organizations can leverage corrective maintenance more effectively, reducing downtime, improving equipment reliability, and minimizing the impact of unexpected failures on operations.

How Corrective Maintenance Improves Reliability

Corrective maintenance can contribute to improving equipment reliability through several avenues:

  1. Identifying Failure Patterns: By analyzing recurring failures addressed through corrective maintenance, organizations can pinpoint common issues and take proactive steps to prevent their reoccurrence, enhancing overall reliability.
  2. Root Cause Analysis: Investigating the reasons behind failures helps identify underlying issues, allowing for targeted improvements to prevent similar failures in the future.
  3. Upgrading or Replacement: may reveal outdated or malfunctioning components. Replacing or upgrading these components improves equipment reliability and prevents further failures.
  4. Monitoring and Predictive Measures: Insights gained from corrective maintenance can inform predictive maintenance strategies, enabling proactive identification and resolution of potential issues before they escalate into failures, thus enhancing overall reliability.
  5. Continuous Improvement:  feedback loops facilitate a culture of continuous improvement. Lessons learned from addressing failures are used to enhance maintenance practices, contributing to improved equipment reliability over time.

While corrective maintenance is reactive by nature, its insights and actions can serve as crucial building blocks for enhancing equipment reliability by addressing underlying issues, improving maintenance strategies, and preventing future failures.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Corrective Maintenance

comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages:


  1. Cost-Efficiency: Resources are allocated only when issues occur, reducing upfront maintenance costs compared to proactive strategies.
  2. Immediate Response: Swiftly addresses equipment failures, minimizing downtime and restoring operations promptly.
  3. Focused Attention: Allows maintenance teams to concentrate efforts on urgent issues as they arise, ensuring immediate attention to critical problems.
  4. Flexible Resource Allocation: Enables flexible resource usage based on immediate needs, optimizing resource allocation across various maintenance tasks.


  1. Higher Downtime: Relies on failures to occur before action is taken, potentially leading to higher downtime and disruption to operations.
  2. Unpredictability: Uncertainty around when failures might occur can make planning and resource allocation challenging.
  3. Emergency Nature: Reactive nature can lead to rushed or temporary fixes, potentially overlooking root causes or long-term solutions.
  4. Potential Safety Risks: Unexpected failures may pose safety hazards to personnel or operations if not addressed promptly.

While corrective maintenance is crucial for addressing unexpected failures, it’s often beneficial to combine it with proactive maintenance strategies to achieve a more balanced and effective maintenance approach.

The Plus Side of Corrective Maintenance cmms

Given that corrective maintenance revolves around fixing or restoring an asset after it fails, its implementation demands minimal labor, cost, and planning. When the failure of a specific component has negligible impacts on safety, production, or service, opting for corrective maintenance can often be the most prudent and cost-effective solution. For instance, implementing an elaborate and costly preventive maintenance plan for something as straightforward as replacing a lightbulb in the break room might not be advisable.

Here are some advantages associated with corrective maintenance:

  1. Lower Costs: In certain cases, corrective maintenance can be less expensive in the short term, as the problem is addressed when it occurs. There is no need for labor to track, monitor, and manage the situation.
  2. Simplicity of Process: Due to its reactive nature, corrective maintenance often involves straightforward fixes that require minimal planning or management.
  3. Opportunity for Inspection: Completing a corrective maintenance task also presents an opportunity to inspect a piece of equipment, addressing a failure mode potentially before a significant disruption occurs.

The Minus Side of Corrective Maintenance

In scenarios where a failure can significantly impact production, employee safety, or the environment, relying solely on corrective maintenance can result in costly and hazardous long-term issues.

Some drawbacks associated with excessive dependence on corrective maintenance are:

  1. Unpredictability: Relying solely on fixing equipment upon failure leads to highly unpredictable asset performance in the long run. Additionally, root causes of problems are typically unidentified and therefore cannot be efficiently resolved.
  2. Production Interruptions: Breakdowns in critical equipment can halt entire production lines, causing downtime and reducing employee productivity.
  3. Reduced Asset Lifespan: Neglecting regular equipment care and only addressing maintenance when components fail ultimately shortens the overall lifespan of assets.


How to Reduce Corrective Maintenance

Reducing reliance on corrective maintenance involves implementing proactive strategies to prevent failures and minimize reactive responses. Here are some approaches:

  1. Implement Preventive Maintenance: Develop and implement a preventive maintenance program based on manufacturer recommendations, historical data, or predictive analytics. Regular inspections, lubrication, parts replacements, and proactive upkeep can prevent unexpected failures.
  2. Predictive Maintenance Techniques: Utilize predictive technologies, such as sensors or monitoring systems, to detect early signs of potential failures, enabling timely intervention before breakdowns occur.
  3. Root Cause Analysis: Investigate and address root causes of recurring failures identified through corrective maintenance, implementing measures to prevent their recurrence.
  4. Training and Skill Development: Invest in training programs to equip maintenance teams with skills for better diagnosis, troubleshooting, and preventive measures.
  5. Asset Monitoring and Data Analysis: Regularly monitor equipment performance, analyze data, and use insights to optimize maintenance schedules and identify potential issues before they escalate.
  6. Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM): Implement RCM strategies focusing on critical assets, identifying failure modes, and determining the most effective maintenance tasks to prevent failures.
  7. Continuous Improvement: Foster a culture of continuous improvement by reviewing maintenance practices, learning from corrective maintenance activities, and incorporating lessons into proactive strategies.

By emphasizing preventive measures, predictive technologies, skill development, and a culture of continuous improvement, organizations can reduce their dependence on corrective maintenance, mitigate unexpected failures, and improve overall equipment reliability.

Corrective vs. Breakdown Maintenance

Corrective maintenance and breakdown maintenance are often used interchangeably, but they refer to slightly different concepts:

  1. Corrective Maintenance:
    • Involves repairing or restoring equipment or systems after an identified fault, malfunction, or failure.
    • Can be reactive, addressing issues once they are detected, but it can also encompass proactive measures to rectify recurring problems and prevent future failures.
    • Focuses on fixing the problem to restore normal functionality and prevent further damage.
  2. Breakdown Maintenance:
    • Specifically refers to maintenance carried out after equipment has completely broken down or ceased functioning.
    • Often implies a complete stoppage of equipment or processes until repairs are made.
    • Generally, breakdown maintenance is a subset of corrective maintenance, addressing failures that result in complete stoppages or breakdowns.

While encompasses a broader spectrum, including proactive measures to rectify issues, breakdown maintenance specifically deals with responding to equipment failures that result in complete stoppages or breakdowns.

How the Two Maintenance Types Differ

The primary differences between corrective maintenance and breakdown maintenance lie in their scope and timing:

  1. Scope:
    • Corrective Maintenance: Involves addressing identified faults, malfunctions, or failures, whether detected proactively or reactively. It encompasses both planned and unplanned maintenance activities aimed at rectifying issues and preventing further damage or deterioration.
    • Breakdown Maintenance: Specifically addresses maintenance tasks carried out after a complete breakdown or cessation of equipment functionality. It is a subset of corrective maintenance and often implies a total halt in operations until repairs are made.
  2. Timing:
    • Corrective Maintenance: Can be conducted proactively to address recurring issues or identified faults before they cause major problems. It encompasses planned tasks to rectify issues as they arise.
    • Breakdown Maintenance: Occurs in response to an immediate equipment failure or breakdown, often resulting in sudden stoppages or interruptions in operations.

While both types involve responding to equipment issues, corrective maintenance is a broader category encompassing planned and unplanned actions aimed at addressing identified faults, while breakdown maintenance specifically deals with responding to complete equipment breakdowns or failures.


Corrective maintenance holds significance within a company’s maintenance framework. It’s pivotal to discern when it offers advantages and when it results in inefficiencies, downtime, and productivity setbacks.

Maintenance teams should rely on robust maintenance data and analysis to identify the areas where corrective maintenance proves effective and when it should pave the way for proactive preventive and predictive maintenance endeavors.


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