The Importance of Properly Maintaining Your HVAC Systems
Properly maintaining all of the components of your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems — the chillers, air handlers, split systems, piping, ductwork, etc. — can produce several benefits for your facility, from improved reliability and indoor environmental quality (IEQ) to energy savings.
Many facilities have Operations and Maintenance (O&M) manual libraries that include the major pieces of equipment. These manuals are guides from manufacturers to help you get optimal performance out of your equipment. Typically, they have a checklist for preventive maintenance measures and how often each should be performed.
Here are some reasons it’s worth properly maintaining your HVAC systems.
Increase the Life of the Equipment
The rated life of your equipment is based on proper preventive maintenance. When equipment is not properly maintained, it can fail prematurely, and you may need to replace it unexpectedly. In addition to extending lifespan, proper maintenance can give you an idea of when equipment is reaching the end of its useful life so you can better plan for a replacement.
Help Prevent Comfort Issues for Occupants
Well-designed, properly maintained HVAC systems will provide adequate heating and cooling. Checking to make sure the coils are clean on a regular basis (which can be done when replacing air filters) and cleaning them when dirty will maximize their heat transfer capability. In other words, clean coils provide more heating/cooling.
Provide Adequate Indoor Air Quality
Changing filters on schedule, cleaning coils when dirty and maintaining correct refrigerant levels are all examples of steps you can take to maintain ideal indoor air quality (IAQ).
Providing proper ventilation is critical for IAQ, and ensuring air filters are replaced regularly will allow for the designed airflow throughout the building while limiting contaminants like pollen or dust particles from circulating.
Unfortunately, replacing air filters can easily be overlooked when your maintenance team is already overloaded with other issues. Failing to replace filters when they are full or clogged, however, will increase the static pressure on your HVAC system. If the system has a variable frequency drive (VFD), the fan will have to ramp up its speed to overcome the extra pressure drop, increasing energy consumption. If the system does not have a VFD on the fan, the total airflow will decrease, providing less airflow to the space and possibly reducing the overall cooling/heating capacity of the system.
Ensuring the cooling systems are working as designed is important for maintaining appropriate humidity levels in a facility (a factor in IEQ). Keeping the cooling coils clean, having refrigerant systems checked by a qualified professional (either internally or externally) and making sure the insulation on ductwork and chilled water piping is intact are simple ways to help the HVAC systems dehumidify the building on those muggy summer days.
Decrease Your Energy Bills
Properly maintained equipment will save you money on your energy bills. For example, replacing dirty air filters alone can reduce your system’s energy consumption by an estimated 5 to 15 percent.