Four Steps To HVAC Heaven
Now is a great time of the year to check HVAC plant and equipment is operating at its optimum because we have experienced – and will probably continue to face – heat wave conditions with temperatures in some places as hot as the Bahamas, approaching a sweltering 30 deg C.
Indeed, we are approaching the period when air conditioning and ventilation equipment in particular will face its heaviest use of the year.
If the maintenance team has been doing its job properly, there will be no problems. If they haven’t, or if the HVAC kit is old and unreliable, it is best to catch issues now rather than wait until the equipment is needed.
However, good performance means more than simply equipment that works when you switch it on. It also involves optimising performance and maximising energy efficiency. Here are four simple steps you can take to ensure your HVAC equipment works most effectively:
- General maintenance – A plant tune-up can save you a great deal of time down the line, especially if you are forced to deal with the catastrophic consequences of poor planning, including disruption, accidents, loss of production and discomfort of building occupants.
- Clean coils – Air moving over the coils will inevitably attract dust, dirt, pollen, moisture and other contaminants over time causing the coils to become dirty and less efficient. Moreover, the evaporator coil and condensate pan can become fouled with pollen and other bio-contaminants and this can negatively affect indoor air quality as the moisture around the evaporator coil can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Dirty coils also waste energy and cost money. A coil fouled with dirt and grime cannot supply proper heat transfer and results in greater energy consumption.
- Ensure good access to plant – Trying to maintain or repair rooftop HVAC equipment is risky enough without having to contend with slippery conditions. The easier it is to access the equipment, the lower the risk of injury. Eliminating trip hazards on roofs and internal plantrooms also reduces hazards. If there is an accident on your site the costs could be enormous, not just financially but also in terms of your company’s reputation.
- Consider refurbishment rather than replacement of worn out HVAC equipment – Refurbishment can extend the service life of an air handling unit (AHU) by 15 to 20 years and it can reduce energy consumption dramatically, but it leaves existing services such as ductwork, pipework and wiring unaltered so it is less disruptive than replacement. It is also far less expensive (just 35 to 50% of the cost of a new AHU according to some estimates) and offers the opportunity to upgrade the existing specification by taking advantage of the latest energy efficient EC plug fans and components.