Energy-Saving Benefits of Regular Commercial HVAC Maintenance
It should be pretty obvious that an investment in commercial HVAC maintenance offers energy-saving benefits, but some business owners are penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to maintenance.
Short-changing maintenance to save a few bucks can be costly in the long run. Commercial HVAC maintenance will not only lower utility costs, but it will also reduce future equipment replacement costs.
Why Practice Preventative Maintenance?
In most commercial buildings, HVAC systems account for a good 40 percent of energy expenses. And while most facility managers understand that it would be better to spend resources on maintenance and predictive tools, they tend to react to crises, rather than preventing them. Usually, a pinched budget is the reason for stinting on services. However, practicing regular commercial HVAC maintenance doesn’t just save energy.
In today’s technologically complex commercial setting, sophisticated computerized systems must function in environments where temperature and humidity are carefully controlled. If you have tenants in your building, they depend on you to provide it for them. In fact, you may have a legal obligation to do so. There’s also the comfort factor. Most modern buildings are sealed and climate controlled. You can’t afford to have an HVAC breakdown that will force you to send your employees or your tenants’ employees home.
The fact is, reacting to HVAC crises is more expensive than preventative maintenance. Start now by documenting the performance of your equipment and keeping good records. Document any equipment that need attention, how much it will cost to repair and how much it would cost if the part failed and had to be replaced. Then, compare the two costs. Be sure to include, if you can determine it, how much the failure to repair may cost in terms of energy use.
A Maintenance Regimen
What should you, as the facility executive, manager or owner, be looking for in terms of commercial HVAC maintenance? Here’s a brief rundown of some typical items that should be on your maintenance list:
It almost goes without saying that filters should be changed regularly and should be of good quality. Inspect them often to see how dirty they get during a six-month period, and then decide how often filters should be changed.
Inspect air vents for mold and dust. Pay attention to air quality. Do you smell a musty odor?
- Ask tenants how they feel about their building’s indoor air quality. Every couple of years, you should get your ductwork cleaned.
- Clean condenser and evaporator coils a couple of times a year. Evaporator coils often harbor mold, while dirt can harm condenser coils. Use antimicrobial cleaner for this task.
- Twice yearly, check fans, belts and bearings. Belts should be aligned with proper tension. Noise, heat or vibration in bearings should also be addressed.
- Check for over-greased ball bearings in ball bearing units, which should be cleaned.
- At least once a year, clean and adjust dampers, and fix any leaks around the air intake.
- Check for leaks, and replace latches and screws in ductwork. Then, patch and replace gaskets.
- Perform all suggested maintenance for chillers, including completing daily maintenance logs that can provide information on efficiency.
Hiring a Service Pro
Unless you have someone qualified to perform maintenance checks, you will need to hire a service pro. As you interview various HVAC professionals, be aware that the lowest bid may not be the best bid. There may be hidden costs.
And, regardless of whom you hire, you should request that inspection and suggested corrective action be based on industry standards — ANSI/ASHRAE/ACCA 180-2012 (Standard Practice for Inspection and Maintenance of Commercial Building HVAC Systems). This standard contains extensive maintenance information on a wide range of commercial HVAC equipment.
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