Keep Your Facility’s A/C in Great Shape This Spring and Summer

With the weather starting to heat up, it’s a good time for facility managers in any business to make sure their Heating, Ventilation, and the Air Conditioning system (HVAC) is running well. This routine maintenance is essential to maintaining a comfortable and safe environment for employees and customers.


In many installations, air conditioning tends to operate constantly during the warmer months. Machines and systems that get so little downtime must be well-maintained to avoid overheating and overloading of the equipment.

 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a poorly-installed HVAC system can result in a facility using as much as 30 percent more energy, meaning higher costs. For this reason, you’ll want to have your system regularly inspected. Routine checks can also detect minor problems before they become more serious.

 

By following a few simple maintenance tips, you will also avoid future emergencies and a scary energy bill at the end of the month.

 

Replace Air Filters

 

Every A/C system works with air filters. The system sucks in the air of a room, treats it to reduce the temperature, and finally returns the air through the ducts. The moment the air is sucked in, it passes through the filters, where particles such as dust, pollen, and even bacteria and fungi are retained.

 

Eventually, all this cleaning catches up to them, and the filters themselves will become clogged by retaining so much debris. If they’re not cleaned and replaced frequently, the air will no longer be filtered effectively, and the particles will clog your system, causing it to overload. This can reduce its capacity or even grind things to a halt altogether.

 

Check the filters at least once a month to prevent your system from breaking down (and to keep the air clean and healthy). Some systems work with disposable filters, which can be exchanged and discarded; others are permanent and need periodic cleaning. It’s essential to do this maintenance every one to three months.

 

Monitor Ducts for Leaks

 

If you feel that your system is not working correctly, but you’re sure the problem isn’t with the filters, there may be a leak in the air ducts.

 

Never underestimate the problem: even when detecting a minor leak, carry out the necessary maintenance to prevent it from becoming more serious. Tears are not always visible. To identify hidden leaks, use these steps:

 

      Turn on the HVAC system at maximum and check the ducts for air coming out.

      Check the points where two air ducts connect, as these tend to be weak spots.

      Light a candle or incense and pass it under the pipe—if a stream of air blows the flame or smoke, you’ll know you have a minor leak.

      Look for old improvised patches with duct tape, as they also tend to be weak and prone to re-rupturing.

 

Regularly Check Drain Lines and Coils

 

The drain line takes the water drawn from the humidity of the air into a tray. Evaporator and condenser coils are the part of the system where the heat from the air is absorbed. They require constant maintenance: debris can accumulate and form a sludge that clogs the drain line, while the accumulation of dust prevents coils from absorbing heat and can cause overheating.

 

Clearing the drain lines is relatively simple: you can do it with the help of a hose or vacuum cleaner. Coils require extra attention, as they are one of the most expensive parts of the system to replace. Check them frequently, cleaning and unclogging dust and other types of debris.

 

Keep Your Refrigerant Levels Steady

 

Air conditioning units work thanks to a chemical called refrigerant (also called freon), which is responsible for cooling the air. It undergoes an evaporation process that disperses its chilled molecules through the air, lowering its temperature as well. When you run low, the system won’t be able to keep things as cool as necessary. It can become overheated by the energy its own machinery produces.

 

If a room is taking longer than usual to cool off, or if the set temperature is never reached, or if there are water leaks or hissing noises along the ducts, you may need to top off your freon.

 

How Will You Remember All This? Implement a CMMS

 

Although each of these tasks may seem simple on its own, they can quickly add up to become overwhelming. The best way for a facility manager to be up-to-date on necessary maintenance, without relying solely on memory, is to implement a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). You can use this software to automate reminders for all of this maintenance, in addition to other tasks.

 

Top CMMS options like FMX allow you to centralize information about all processes and assets and create a work order portal. This means that you and your crew will know when the HVAC system was last monitored, when it may have had problems, and what procedures were performed to address them. This information allows you to create a preventive maintenance schedule to ensure the equipment’s proper efficiency.

 

Cool the Premises Without Heating Up the Energy Bill

 

Billions of dollars are spent every year on HVAC systems—and many of the highest bills among them are served to facilities that failed to do basic upkeep and were therefore forced into emergency maintenance or even an unscheduled full system replacement.

 

Performing regular maintenance is a simple way to extend the life of the system in your facility. The practice guarantees savings in the energy bill, a more durable and efficient system, and above all, better air quality for everyone.

 

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