• Five Common Misconceptions About Commercial HVAC

    Posted on April 25, 2014 by Adele Oliver in HVAC Maintenance and Efficiency.
    GMS Social

    Misconception #1: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    Regular maintenance is key for commercial heating and cooling systems. All components need to be regularly checked for safe and effective operation. You often don’t know you’ve got a problem until you’re getting complaints from your tenants, or your equipment fails. Problems get worse the longer you leave them and often without warning.

    Misconception #2: All the service techs do is change the filters.

    While changing and cleaning filters is important in order to maintain airflow, there are many maintenance tasks that need to be carried out on a regular basis. If your building has multiple pieces of mechanical equipment like chillers, boilers, CRAC units, in-row units, AHUs and roof top units you already know that each piece of equipment has different maintenance requirements that are recommended by the manufacturer. Failure to maintain can mean the loss of the warranty, increased energy consumption and in some cases, catastrophic failure. Refrigerant needs to checked, parts need to be cleaned and lubed, oil needs to be checked, sensors need to be inspected , thermostat programming needs adjusting, controls systems require calibration, systems overview and recommendations due to space changes, etc.  – there’s a lot more to it than just changing the filters!

    Misconception #3: Maintenance contracts are a luxury item

    Mechanical equipment is complex and needs regular maintenance. If you’re running a mission critical site, for example a hospital or a data center, the need to maintain your infrastructure becomes not just an efficiency issue, but one of safety and business process continuity. Far from being a luxury item – maintenance is a necessity. You’ve invested a great deal of money in that equipment and maintenance can help spot problems before they happen, preventing potentially expensive emergency repairs. Regular maintenance also equals more efficiency which can help to lower energy costs. That’s one of the reasons your local utility offers incentives for regular maintenance checks – they KNOW it brings energy use down.

    Misconception #4: Lowest bidder is the way to go

    This is endemic across the industry but honestly – you get what you pay for. Uninsured and unlicensed contractors will always have the lowest prices, so will Mom and Pop shops – but what happens when all the batteries in your UPS systems go down on the same day because of a fire, or your two chillers fail unexpectedly? Are you going to get the response times and the service you need from that low bidder?  Always check references and be very specific about the services you are expecting – remember there’s a difference between a PM contract (no parts included) and a full maintenance contract. You’re not always comparing apples to apples. More efficient equipment can be more costly to maintain, better-trained staff are always in demand and therefore more expensive. If you want reliable, effective service then please don’t let price always be the deciding factor when choosing your provider.

    Misconception #5: No one is complaining about indoor air quality, so it’s not an issue in my building

    All buildings have indoor air quality problems – all of them!  Allergens, bacteria, mold and fumes are just a few and the only difference is the severity of the problem. Even the comfort of your tenants or employees is an issue that qualifies as an “air quality problem”. If you’re getting complaints from your tenants that their areas are too cold or too hot then don’t fool yourself – you have an issue. While regular maintenance and filter changes can help with some of the allergens, you need a more robust solution to deal with things like bacteria and mold. Newer products are regularly coming onto the market to help deal with these more effectively, including ultra violet lights that keep mold from building up in the duct work. This industry is constantly innovating – there’s always a solution. 

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