As a property owner, keeping an eye on HVAC issues is of paramount importance. You not only want to have happy, comfortable tenants, but you also need to keep repair and energy costs down as well as protect the value of your property.
However, problems with your HVAC system can and do occur. Although in most cases a thorough inspection and diagnosis by qualified technicians will likely be warranted, knowing ahead of time what the problem might be can help prevent minor fixes from becoming major repairs.
Here are 7 common problems you might experience with your commercial HVAC system:
Poor Air Quality:
Does the air coming out of your vents seem dirty, or carrying an unpleasant odour? Indoor air quality (IAQ) can be the result of many issues, including dirty air filters, condensed stagnant water inside equipment, and a lack of fresh or ventilated air. Remember, filters should be changed 3 – 4 times per year at a minimum to keep dust, allergens, and other air pollutants out of your office space, so if your filters are old changing them immediately is a great first step to help clear the air.
Improper Air Balancing in Your Commercial HVAC System:
Is one of your offices always colder than the others? Or do some rooms take longer to heat up? This could be a problem with the dampers, which control airflow through the ducts within your commercial HVAC system. If the dampers are not properly balanced, you’re going to have uneven temperatures throughout your office. This can also lead to significant energy waste if you’re heating or cooling spaces that are unoccupied. However, if your dampers are already properly balanced, there could be leaks or cracks in the ductwork that need inspection and repair, which is common in older buildings.
If your tenants complain about noises coming from the vents every time their commercial HVAC system activates, there could be a broken damper or piece of ductwork that has become loose. Not only can the noise be irritating for your tenants, the cause could cause harm to your system and affect its efficiency. This should be looked into immediately to prevent further damage and excessive repair cost.
Water Leakage From Your Commercial HVAC System:
Water leaking from your commercial HVAC system could be the result of a drain line being clogged with dirt, algae, or other debris. When this happens, water can back up into the drain pan, causing it to leak out and potentially cause water damage and introduce bacteria to the space. Avoiding a clogged drained line is as simple as having it cleaned out as part of a regular Preventative Maintenance Program.
Unusually Warm Air:
When the air blowing out of your vents isn’t very cool, it could be a sign that your system has developed a refrigerant leak. Refrigerants are the liquid agents that cool and dehumidify indoor air. Insufficient levels of refrigerant in your system can negatively affect your system’s performance, as well as cause other components to work overtime. This can lead additional, expensive repairs if the issue isn’t addressed quickly.
Poor Performance From Your Commercial HVAC System:
Does your commercial HVAC system seem less efficient than usual? It could be a simple maintenance issue, such as evaporator and condenser coils that need cleaning. Your economizer dampers might be dirty as well, causing them to become stuck in a certain position, which can either stop your system from utilizing outside air to cool the inside, or overloading the cooling coil with too much hot air from the outside. In any case, calling a professional to conduct a thorough cleaning is in order to help solve the problem.
Rise in Energy Costs:
Sometimes your commercial HVAC system can have performance issues that betray no obvious symptoms in the office. However, one sign of a poorly performing system that might be noticeable is a sudden, inexplicable rise in your heating and cooling costs. If you see an upward trend in energy usage, even if your commercial HVAC system seems to be functioning normally, it’s time to call in the professionals.
How to Prevent Commercial HVAC System Issues
The easiest way to solve HVAC problems before they happen is to have your system regularly inspected and maintained by qualified HVAC technicians. Regular HVAC maintenance involves replacing filters and steam-generating cylinders, inspecting boilers, valves, and heat pumps, cleaning humidifiers, and much more. Keeping your system maintained can also help reduce energy costs and provide a much more comfortable environment for your tenants.
However, even a well-maintained system can have issues, simply due to wear and tear on its components over time. If this happens, be sure to call the company who performs your HVAC inspections, as they will already be intimately familiar with your system and have records, they can refer to that can help guide them toward diagnosing the problem.
As always, I’m here to answer your questions about your commercial HVAC system. Feel free to call or email me anytime.
Gregg Little is Co-owner of Springbank Mechanical Systems. He can be reached at 905-569-8990 or firstname.lastname@example.org.