Maintaining Your HVAC System
Similar to the respiratory system in humans, an HVAC system is how a building breathes. They regulate airflow, allowing clean air in and dispelling pollutants, odours, gases, and dust. Through the control of the movement, quality and temperate, the system adjusts the indoor space, providing comfort to its occupants. In all settings, comfort is crucial to wellbeing and in a business setting, it’s important for owners and operators to ensure their residents, employees and visitors are at ease. Having a properly functioning HVAC system is fundamental to the operation of a building and without regular maintenance, issues such as the following are likely to arise.
- High energy consumption
- Reduced lifespan
- Emit greenhouse gases
Over the years, these systems have become more energy efficient, therefore reducing GHG emissions, but ensuring the HVAC system is serviced regularly is still of great importance.
Essential HVAC System Maintenance
Canada has many different climates that vary depending on the geographic area and progression in the season. However, HVAC systems adapt so they can keep consistent indoor temperatures year-round. For the system to be as effective as possible, scheduled maintenance is required and ensures businesses receive the maximum benefits.
- Lower Energy Bills up to 50%
While upgraded systems boast savings on energy bills, energy-efficient rooftop units and centrifugal chillers will help reduce costs further. Maintaining optimal refrigerant levels, calibrating the thermostat and keeping tubes clean to enhance condenser flow rate, result in even more savings.
- 30% Longer Lifespan
If maintained well, an HVAC system should last for an average of 15+ years. Repairs and replacing faulty parts, as well as regular cleanings, help in avoiding malfunctions.
- Lower Greenhouse Gases – Drastically
When using a heat pump in place of a boiler or furnace, buildings can reduce GHG emissions by up to 75% as it eliminates the need to burn fossil fuels since the heat pump moves heat, rather than generating it. Also, if powered through renewable energy sources, such as solar power, emissions decrease even further.
- Healthier Air Indoors
The quality of the air we breathe is critical to our health and safety. Regularly maintained HVAC systems provide optimal humidity levels and moderate temperature fluctuations, as well as ensure ideal indoor air quality (IAQ). Since 50% of illnesses are caused by indoor air pollution, these factors are essential to our wellbeing.
- Reduced Emergency Repairs
Following the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance schedule is of the utmost importance to prevent costly emergency repairs. Technicians will inspect each part of the HVAC system, fixing what is necessary to be proactive so the part does not fail later on, potentially at a critical time.
Should routine maintenance be forgone, the smallest problem could turn into a large expense, affecting the entire system. There are ways to lower the odds of this happening though, through preventative measures.
Maintaining an HVAC System
If HVAC system maintenance is neglected, a business may be forced to fix larger issues, costing them anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 for failing parts. Unexpected expenses are never welcome and almost always cause undue strain on a company, but this can be avoided if a few simple actions are taken.
- Clean the Heat Pump
Accumulation of dirt can cause a heat pump (or condenser) to work harder than is required as it attempts to heat or cool the air. Cleaning it with a blower, as well as brushing and washing the dirt off can go a long way.
- Clean and Replace Air Filters
An air filter traps harmful particles that try to pass through, causing it to become chockfull of dust and making it difficult for clean air to pass through. Frequent cleaning and quarterly installations of new HEPA filters provide optimal conditions and help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- Clean Drain Lines
Through the process of warming and cooling air, condensation and moisture will accumulate. As this builds up though, it can result in mold or algae, which requires an enzyme cleaner. You can also use baking soda and vinegar as a solution, helping the system to provide consistent performance.
- Outdoor Unit Cleaning
Although built to withstand some of the elements, these units are subject to vegetation, dirt, debris and weather fluctuations. For air production to run smoothly, use a blower to remove the dirt and debris from the condenser coils that dissipate heat from the refrigerant and then carefully wipe with a cloth.
- Calibrate the Thermostat
A malfunctioning thermostat can cause a host of problems, from uncomfortable conditions to higher energy bills. To avoid this, check the thermostat is working properly by placing an accurate thermostat next to it for 15 minutes to ensure the reading matches. The fix could be as simple as a dusty sensor, but it may also indicate a larger problem.
- Repair or Replace Faulty Components
Rather than putting strain on the HVAC system, potentially causing additional damage that could require a major overhaul, repair or replace faulty components as soon as possible. Once malfunctioning, these parts can cause odour, noise, and fluctuating temperatures, among other things.
- Proper Insulation
Improperly insulated spaces mean thermal energy will escape, causing an HVAC system to work overtime and lowering the level of performance. When choosing insulation, the R-value will indicate how well a type of insulation can keep heat from leaving or entering. A few common types of insulation are mineral wool, spray foams, and low- and high-density fibreglass.
- Professional Maintenance
With an annual maintenance contract (AMC), a professional HVAC technician will conduct annual inspections. They will check the fan, clean the coils, replace the air filter, clean the ductwork, ensure there are no leaks, and refill the refrigerant. Additionally, if there are any impending issues, they will be able to help get ahead of the problem.
Keeping up with maintenance will increase the HVAC system’s energy efficiency and reduce lower greenhouse gas emissions, as well as extend its lifespan. Replacing an entire system can get expensive, making it ideal to extend the lifecycle of the system as best as possible.
Extending HVAC System Life Expectancy
While regular maintenance is necessary, technological advancements have resulted in many innovations that improve an HVAC system’s lifespan, increase energy efficiency and make it more environmentally friendly.
- Replace Boiler Unit
The primary purpose of all boilers is to transfer heat to water, which is then distributed through the system to heat the space.
- Power sources include oil, coal, fuel, or natural gas.
- A few types of boilers are firetube, water tube, cast iron, and condensing.
- Their components include a burner, combustion chamber, heat exchanger and plumbing.
- Replacement Chiller Unit
A chiller, or cooling water circulation device, transfers heat away from a space through water or a water solution. As evident in the name, the cooled liquid is then circulated by the device, lowering the temperature as the refrigerant absorbs the ambient heat.
- The process can vary through the use of mechanical refrigeration, absorption, or evaporation.
- Centrifugal, absorption and modular are all types of chillers.
- Common components include a compressor, condenser, expansion valve, and evaporator.
- Installation on a Building Automation System (BAS)
Building Automation Systems make it possible to connect and manage all primary systems within a building.
- Integrate the HVAC system, smart lighting, security and more.
- Through one single interface, an owner or manager can access and control all of these systems with ease.
- Energy saving algorithms reduce overall power consumption using demand control ventilation, fresh air control, automatic climate control, valve and zone control.
- Review historical data to help plan for the future and perform remote diagnostics to reduce system downtime.
- Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) Installation
The speed of air flow must be regulated within an HVAC system, which is the primary function of the Variable Frequency Drive by adjusting the frequency of electrical power supplied.
- Controls the speed of pumps, fans, compressors, and blowers.
- They can be used in boilers, chillers, fluid pumps, and cooling towers among others.
- Since they help withstand peak load, they especially help increase system lifespan for businesses.
- Soft start functionality reduces mechanical stress on the motor.
These cutting-edge system solutions allow HVAC systems to operate at a fraction of the cost while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions and a building’s overall carbon footprint. Moving forward with these options is as easy as visiting a website or sending an email.
Start Now with EnerSavings!
As Canada’s trusted energy advisor, EnerSavings provides energy management solutions to reduce 3 primary utility costs – electricity, water and natural gas. Our mission is to help businesses lower operating expenses and greenhouse gas emissions by providing state-of-the-art energy management solutions. If you’re looking to replace or retrofit your existing HVAC system, EnerSavings will provide a free audit and custom proposal based on what is best for your property. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or through InMail on LinkedIn. Together, we can make the world more sustainable.