Lighting as well as HVAC systems consume the largest amount of energy in most commercial buildings. Improvements in the way of building automation systems (BAS), variable refrigerant flow systems and demand control ventilation have all helped reduce these costs. Commercial HVAC maintenance however, is the key to maintaining long term efficiency gains and prolonging the life of your equipment.
“HVAC” is a broad term used to describe all sorts of mechanical equipment. So, we will cover some of the most common pieces of HVAC equipment found in commercial facilities. In this article we provide the general know how for common commercial HVAC maintenance issues. We also provide you with specific maintenance checklists by equipment type to make your job easier.
Common Commercial HVAC Equipment And Quick Tips
1. Air Handling Units
These units push treated air throughout a commercial facility are commonly located indoors. They help regulate air temperature, humidity and air quality. We recommend carrying the following parts to bounce back quickly when a breakdown occurs:
- Coil Condenser Cleaners
Routine AHU maintenance reduces operating costs, downtime costs and troubleshooting costs. For a complete commercial AHU maintenance checklist click here.
2. Cooling Towers
These are heat exchangers used to remove heat from water in most cases. One easy way to improve efficiency is to have the water flow rates examined. These can get out of whack over time and can result in a gradual decrease in efficiency. By rebalancing flows you can get back to nameplate performance.
Legionnaire’s disease is another important consideration when working on cooling towers. Ensuring proper chemical treatment and cleaning your cooling tower at least twice a year (OSHA) can help reduce the risks of this deadly disease.
For more on cooling tower start-up, maintenance, shutdown and installation check out the full maintenance checklist here.
Keeping detailed logs when maintaining a chiller is important to give you an overall picture of how your chiller is performing. You should include flow rates, operating temperatures and fluid levels. Remote monitor systems are also a common way for commercial organizations to monitor their chillers. Check out our full maintenance checklist and tips in our full article here.
4. Heat Pumps
These pumps transfer heat by circulating refrigerant. When they are in cooling mode, it is recommended to not set them below 70 degrees. This reduces the risk of having the indoor coil freeze and creating condensation around windows. When in heat mode, it is best practice to not let your system go below 65 degrees. For a larger list of tips and our Heat Pump Maintenance Checklist check out the full article here.
5. Heat Recovery Ventilators
A heat recovery ventilator recovers heat from warm air being exhausted and uses it to heat up outdoor air being brought into the building. In the summer the opposite happens. HRVs reduce stress on your other HVAC equipment, improve indoor air quality and also increase energy efficiency. These units can reduce energy consumption by 15% to 18% on average. For a full HRV maintenance checklist click here.
6. Exhaust Fans
By keeping your ears open for unusual tones or rattling you can spot issues before they get out of hand. Excessive vibration and pressure drops are another common sign something may be failing. The three most common issues we see in exhaust fans are fan bearing failure, worn or broken belts and motor failure. For a full exhaust fan maintenance checklist click here.
7. Fan Coil Units
By removing worn and cracked belts, replacing filters and lubricating oil tubes (when applicable) you can reduce most maintenance issues. Be sure to also remove debris and dust build up from fan blades to ensure they don’t become unbalanced. For a full fan coil unit checklist, check out our full article here.
Common Commercial HVAC Maintenance Issues
1. Controlling Humidity
Chances of mold growth increase when the relative humidity is above 60% and organic material is present. Organic material includes things like studs, drywall backing and paneling. Make up air is often the culprit behind high humidity. It is most often dealt with by installing a dehumidification system. The second most common issue is building suction issues. This can be caused by having a negative pressure in the building or unsealed return air ducts. To learn more about high humidity conditions check out the article.
2. HVAC Airflow Issues
These issues can manifest as hot and cold areas in your facility, door slamming, low air flow or loud noises when equipment starts up. Here are a few common causes of airflow issues:
- Clogged or Dirty Filters
- Leaking or Blocked Ducts
- Faulty Thermostat
- Equipment Sizing Issues
- Dirty Coils
- Air Balancing Issues
To learn more about airflow issues and how to address them, check out the full article here.
3. Indoor Air Quality
According to the EPA, 33% to 50% of commercial buildings in the US have “poor” indoor air quality. Some common pollutants include combustion contaminants, soil gasses, pesticides and VOCs. In extreme cases this can cause a phenomenon call “Sick Building Syndrome”. Air monitoring systems have become a common way for facility managers to monitor conditions. Air cleaning systems like bi-polar ionization and UV systems have also helped to improve overall air quality. Read more about indoor air quality here.
Commercial HVAC Bonus Material
Assembling An HVAC Parts Inventory
Another tip to help you get by in a bind is to keep spare parts around your shop. Below is a list of what you should consider keeping in stock:
- Air filters
- Coil Condenser Cleaners
- Fan Motor
For larger commercial facilities that have 5 or more of a specific piece of equipment, it can be cost-effective to carry replacement parts.
- Gas Valves
- Control Boards
- Impellers, etc.
Variable Refrigerant Flow Systems
VRFs use refrigerant lines that run to small air handlers located throughout a facility for heating and cooling. This allows for simultaneous heating and cooling within different zones of a building. Compared to a variable air volume systems VRF systems can average around a 20% to 30% energy savings. For more info on if a VRF systems check out the full article here.
UV Lights In Commercial HVAC Systems
Short radiation is emitted from a UV Light system that can be installed inside your HVAC System. The radiation can kill viruses, mold and bacteria as it passes through the air system. This can improve overall air quality as well as reduce odors. Check the full article here.
Our HVAC Services:
- Emergency Service and Repair
- Air System Retrofits
- Industrial and Commercial Maintenance Programs
- Turn-Key Design-Build Projects
- HVAC Parts and Products
- Comfort Control
- Performance Contracting
- Full Engineering Support
- Indoor Air Quality Solutions
- Temperature Control Services
- Chiller Services
- Full System Audits
- Heat Pumps and Fan Coils
- Furnace and Air Conditioning Maintenance and Installation
We have the expertise to maintain and repair furnaces, heat pumps, boilers, and geothermal heating solutions. From fans to air conditioning maintenance and AC replacement, we can help. Common brands we carry, service, repair, install, and maintain: Honeywell, Siemens, Carrier, Trane, York, Johnson Controls and more.