Winter is coming, as the saying goes. And while generally associated with entertainment and not commercial HVAC, that same saying means business for facility managers.
The fast transition from summer to fall brings a sense of urgency when the temps take a dive and the need for heat might be only days away. As part of a yearlong maintenance program, the time of the year that lies between cooling and heating periods is a critical one for HVAC health.
A thorough HVAC maintenance plan can have a significant impact on the comfort and air quality of your building. But that’s not all — HVAC maintenance can prevent unnecessarily high energy bills, surprise repairs, and the wear and tear that can cause early equipment replacement.
When conducting maintenance and preparing your facility for the coming winter, be sure to follow these tips:
- Routine cleaning significantly impacts the energy efficiency of the system.
- HVAC maintenance in the winter that includes scheduled cooling adjustments will help to avoid emergency, unplanned service during the summer.
- Another low-cost measure — air filters — should be checked monthly. Filters may only need to be changed 2-4 times per year.
- If your system includes a cooling tower, cleaning it and verifying clear intake louvers. Such measures prevent the system from working harder.
- Measure the refrigerant charge and make any needed corrections. The proper charge can save up to 10% in operational costs.
- Maintain balance in your ventilating systems by testing and adjusting whenever necessary.
- Monitor control valves to verify proper operation.
- If your building utilizes an economizer, verify proper operation. Check for blocked outside air dampers, broken or disconnected linkage, a malfunctioning actuator, or non-calibrated air temperature sensors.
- Install pump controls that enable a reduction in pump-related operating costs.
- Incorporating a programmable thermostat allows the HVAC system to scale back during off-hours.
While winterizing and maintaining HVAC systems can be a daunting task, thorough inspections and adjustments are the keys to reducing unnecessary future maintenance and expenses. Preventative maintenance today can help you avoid a cold day inside your building right when you least expected it.