Houston Heating, Cooling, and Electrical

What Needs To Happen For Commercial Heating Systems

How should property owners maintain their commercial heating systems?

With regular maintenance, commercial heating systems last longer, run more efficiently and provide better comfort to the building’s occupants. According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), a commercial HVAC system should provide between 10 and 15 years of efficient performance. This is with regular maintenance, though, and without it, the system’s lifespan could be as little as five years.

How can property owners keep their commercial heating systems in good working order?

1. Switch out the air filters often – Like with residential systems, commercial HVAC technology relies on airflow for optimal system operation and to keep the building comfortable. This airflow is passed through filters that remove dust and allergens from the air, and this debris rapidly clogs up the filter. HVAC experts recommend frequent filter replacement, usually once a month or so, to maintain strong air flow and to keep the system functioning properly.

Before replacing a commercial HVAC air filter, though, make sure your filter of choice is designed for the system. Commercial HVAC filters comes in a variety of sizes and MERV ratings (the minimal particle size the filter can capture). Some filters are known as V-Bank filters, which offer greater media area, while others must be secured with a gasket. In short, there are a lot of commercial HVAC filters on the market, so before replacing one, check with your HVAC technician to verify it will work with the system.

2. Make sure the return and supply vents are unblocked – If vents are blocked by furniture or equipment, it will affect airflow through the system. Know where these vents are and inspect them every now and then to ensure they are free from blockage.

3. Clean the condenser and evaporator coils – The condenser and evaporator coils are where heat exchange happens, so if dirt and debris has collected on them, it will noticeably affect the system’s performance and efficiency. If this debris is allowed to collect too long, it could cause the coils to freeze over, which will create major airflow blockages.

There are commercial cleaners available for condenser and evaporator coils, and these should be used to regularly wash down the coils. Make sure to shut off power to the unit before cleaning the system’s internal components.

4. Keep the exterior components clean, too – It’s easy to forget any system components that are outside, but they need to be cleaned, too. If leaves, grass, dirt and other materials accumulate around the outside unit, it can restrict airflow to the interior components, which then has an adverse effect on the system’s performance. Inspect the exterior unit regularly to verify this hasn’t happened, and remove any debris.

If the HVAC system is a rooftop unit, this may be less of an issue, but rooftop units are exposed to the elements as well, so they should be frequently inspected for weather damage.

For Everything Else, Bring in a Professional

The above basic maintenance will keep your system operating well day to day, but to ensure the long term reliability of your HVAC system, regular expert maintenance is required. It’s this maintenance that will ensure building owners get 10 to 15 years from their HVAC technology.

Here’s what a certified HVAC technician will do to protect your investment:

1. Calibrate and inspect system controls – If an HVAC system is losing efficiency or if cooling is inconsistent, then it could be a problem with the system’s controls. This could be an improper thermostat setting or a malfunctioning sensor, but whatever the reason, an HVAC technician can track down the issue and correct it.

2. Inspect and lubricate all moving parts – Commercial HVAC systems rely on mechanical processes to move heat from one place to another. That means relying on belts, bearings and other moving parts to function. To ensure these parts do not wear too much, the HVAC technician will lubricate them.

3. Inspect and tighten electrical connections – Electrical issues can cause major problems with the system, possibly resulting in early system failure and potential injury. During inspection, the HVAC technician will look for any connection problems, tighten the connections and clean them to restore proper function.

4. Inspect ductwork – Air leaks in the ductwork can disguise major efficiency and cooling issues. It can also cause problems with airflow, so ductwork inspections are important. During inspection, the technician will verify that there is enough insulation in place and that all connections between the ductwork is sound.

5. Clean drain lines and provide refrigerant – In humid areas, drain lines have a tendency to become clogged. This is often due to microbial growth in the drain line, usually caused by mold or algae. Drain line clogs can cause water damage inside the building and cause the system to shut down for safety reasons. This means the system’s cooling potential is constantly interfered with. Refrigerant leaks will also affect the system’s ability to cool, so this is another important inspection point. HVAC technicians can clean out the drain lines, if needed, and recharge the system with refrigerant.

What commercial property owners need is an HVAC system that performs reliably and efficiently. What those commercial HVAC systems need to provide that is regular maintenance. Some of this maintenance can be performed by property owners, but to ensure long term reliability, a certified HVAC technician should handle anything mechanical or electrical.

FAQ

Why is regular maintenance recommended for commercial HVAC systems?

According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE) research, a new HVAC system can be expected to provide between 10 and 15 years of performance. That is only the case when the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule is followed. Without maintenance, an HVAC system will often fail several years sooner.

Regular maintenance also maximizes the system’s efficiency and cooling potential, so property owners get more from their investment.

How often should a certified technician inspect an HVAC system?

Most HVAC companies recommend getting the system checked prior to heavy use seasons, so in the spring and in the fall to prepare for hotter and colder weather. In this way, HVAC inspections are like vehicle inspections before going on a long road trip.

What are the advantages of an HVAC service agreement?

Experienced HVAC companies offer service agreements to their clients. These service agreements provide a consistent schedule of maintenance to ensure optimal system functioning. A service agreement may also reduce maintenance costs and give clients priority for repair needs.

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