Check Your Building’s HVAC Systems Regularly and Prevent Expensive Damage
Preventive maintenance of HVAC systems is necessary to keep heating and cooling equipment operating at its best. Regular inspections and maintenance, however, are also a requirement for preventing damage to the HVAC equipment itself, as well as to the structure and contents of your commercial facility. Here are some of the HVAC systems that, if neglected or overlooked, can cause expensive damage, along with suggestions on what can be done to keep these systems working efficiently and effectively.
- Air filters: The air filters in HVAC systems are designed to remove contaminants and particulates from the air flowing through the system. Filters also can affect the airflow that furnaces and air conditioners need to operate properly. If air filters become dirty and clogged with debris, the airflow will be reduced, and the equipment will have to work harder to move air through the system. This can seriously damage HVAC components. Clogged air filters are a major source of heating and cooling system equipment damage, malfunctions and breakdowns. Check filters at least once a month and change them when they get dirty. If your indoor air normally has an increased amount of particulates because of your business activities, air filters may need to be changed more frequently.
- Drainage systems: Air conditioners produce water as part of their normal operation. Some types of heating equipment, such as condensing furnaces, also have water within the system. This water is usually safely removed through a drainage system, but the drains must be maintained to ensure they do not become clogged. Drains can be blocked by debris as well as biological growth such as algae. If drains become blocked, water in the HVAC system can leak out, potentially damaging other system components or items near the HVAC equipment. As part of routine maintenance, make sure the technician checks and cleans drains. In some cases, it may be a good idea to apply an algaecide or other chemical treatment to the drains. Do your own checks of drain pans and drain pipes every month to ensure water isn’t accumulating.
- Ventilation systems: Ventilation equipment provides a beneficial exchange of air between the indoors and outdoors, taking stale air out and bringing fresh air in. Another major function of building ventilation is to reduce the amount of moisture that builds up in the indoor environment. When a building has too much moisture inside, furniture, electronic equipment, paper, flooring, wallboard, and even the framework of the building itself can be damaged. Excess moisture can also encourage the growth of mold, mildew and other potentially harmful substances. Whether your ventilation system is a simple air exchange system or something more complex such as an energy-recovery ventilator, make sure the equipment is checked for proper operation and filters are changed regularly.
- Fans and other moving parts: Like all moving mechanical systems, fans and other components that turn or move must be lubricated to ensure proper function. Check the fans on the blowers and air handlers and add a small amount of oil if needed. Without oil, fans can be damaged or may stop turning completely, which could require the replacement of the fan or air handling unit.
- Burners, pilot lights and igniters: Heating systems that use fossil fuels to produce heat will have open flames within the system. Fuels such as natural gas are extremely flammable and could be the source of a fire or explosion if the delivery systems and safety components aren’t operating properly. Provide extra attention to these critical elements of your HVAC system; a mistake here could result in a catastrophe.
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