Companies are always looking to save money. While we personally struggle with our personal budgets, company facility managers are wrestling with competing priorities and limited resources. HVAC units are, for the most part, hidden so they are easily forgotten until something goes wrong. To avoid costly repairs, doing preventative maintenance can save your company a lot of cash each month.
According to various studies, an HVAC system accounts for between 30-40% of a building’s monthly retail utility costs. Implementing a preventive maintenance program can help you see 15-20% in efficiency savings. You will also avoid any business interruptions, while at the same time, extending the HVAC unit’s life expectancy.
Here are some key maintenance points that can help protect your business from lingering threats:
Air Side Maintenance
1) Regular Filter Changes
Build up of dust and dirt on the HVAC system’s internal coils and combustion chambers can harbor odor causing bacterium. Simply changing the filters regularly can help decrease the chances of major problems, including shut down of the HVAC system and slowing business operation. High traffic areas and medical facilities can benefit greatly from installing HEPA filters. The addition of HEPA filters can help reduce inter-office infections and absences of employees due to illness.
2) Inspecting Evaporator Coils
The evaporator coils do the major work for the AC system by “cooling” the building’s air and drawing moisture out. When dirt collects on these coils, air flow is restricted, which can decrease the performance and efficiency of the HVAC system. A build-up of dirt can inhibit heat-transfer, which means less cooling capacity for the building and the people inside. To prevent future damage, have your evaporator coils cleaned and inspected annually and make sure it is included in your preventative maintenance program.
3) Leaks in the HVAC Cabinet
To maintain the integrity of the HVAC cabinet, any gaps need to be properly sealed by a plumbing professional. Whether it is a lost screw or a damaged gaskets, these gaps can allow water to get into the unit, increasing the chance for an electrical short circuit, malfunction, mold or ceiling damage.
4) Air Dampers and Economizers
Using outside air dampers or air-side economizers is a great way to conserve energy in HVAC operation. They use outside air to cool the inside when the temperature outside is agreeable. Lack of maintenance to these air dampers however, can make them stick and malfunction and can become costly to fix.
5) Belts, Fans and Bearings
Fan blades should be kept clean and should be inspected as part of the routine maintenance program. If the blades of the fan become dirty, they can also reduce efficiency and can raise the cost of running the unit. The motor bearings need routine lubricant applied to prevent unnecessary wear and tear. Fan belts need to be replaced once a year and inspected routinely for any signs of failure or wear.
To determine if your unit has refrigerant leaks and is operating within the manufacturer-specific ranges, you must use a full service professional company who has calibrated instruments. He/she can determine if your unit has leaks or any other problems.
1) The Compressor
The compressor is the heart of the HVAC unit. It compresses and pumps refrigerant through the refrigerant circuit so that it can absorb and reject heat through the condenser/evaporator coils accordingly. It is important to have a detailed oil and electrical analysis during preventative maintenance inspections to ensure there is no acid or moisture present. This can be an extremely expensive problem for building managers to have if this problem arises. Performing preventative maintenance is the only way to prevent this from happening.
2) Check the Condenser Coil
The condenser coil allows the excess heat built up from the evaporator cycle to be discarded by means of radiation, usually aided by mechanical means like fans or blowers. Because these parts are exposed to the elements, they require annual or quarterly preventative maintenance. This will retain maximum efficiency, as a dirty condenser can raise the condenser temp by 10 degrees. This translates to hundreds of lost dollars in electricity use.
Remember that repairing an HVAC unit is roughly HALF the cost to replace one. Performing preventative maintenance will save you from headaches and conserve dollars!
North County Plumbing has been in the service business since 1970 providing quality plumbing services including leak detection and drain service in northern San Diego County. Our qualified technicians are available 24 hours a day to help with emergency plumbing repair services… with no overtime charges!
If you found this blog helpful, you may want to check out our post “Home Plumbing Preventative Maintenance“
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