Every commercial and industrial building manager and owner knows the importance of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system to the success of the business.
Understanding the facts behind these common HVAC myths will help managers protect valuable equipment, save money and energy, and maintain employee comfort in commercial and industrial buildings.
Myth #1: It’s OK to skip regular air filter changes.
A clogged HVAC air filter makes it harder for the ventilation system to circulate air. This results in the fan or blower motor working harder than it was designed to do, and may even cause the AC to freeze up. It may also contribute to wearing out the equipment much sooner than it should, leading to higher replacement costs. Also, it is inevitable that more dust and other particles will find their way through a clogged filter and onto the fan or blower motors and into contactors, where it can cause damage, inefficient operation, and possibly early failure.
Myth #2: Changing air filters is all the HVAC maintenance required.
Regular air filter changes are important, but these are just one component of the comprehensive maintenance needed to insure optimal performance and prevent equipment failure. Additional necessary tasks include replacing fan belts before they break, cleaning condenser coils, cleaning out condensate p-traps to prevent leaks, inspecting evaporator coils and fan motors, checking all electrical connections, measuring pressure and temperature changes, testing thermostat settings, and more.
Myth #3: Turning off AC when the building is empty saves energy.
Turning off the air conditioning in a building over the weekend, or for longer periods does save energy, in relative terms. However, depending on the climate, the effort required to bring the building back down to comfortable temperatures may require more energy than was saved, and the extra work imposed on the HVAC equipment may contribute to inefficiency or even early failure.
Other factors to consider include the humidity build-up in a warmer building, which could damage equipment and other assets, and the fact that warmer ambient air may add to the amount of energy used by any cooling appliances, such as freezers or electrical enclosures, left running in the building. The best solution may be to turn the thermostat up several degrees, but not completely off, when the building is empty.
Myth #4: Turning the thermostat way down will cool a building more quickly.
Most home air conditioning systems and many commercial and industrial HVAC systems have only one speed: on or off. When the temperature rises above the setting, it signals the air conditioning to start cooling. Once the thermostat senses that the temperature in the building is at or below the setting, the air conditioner turns off. So turning the temperature very low won’t make the system cool any faster, but it will keep the equipment working long after the temperature has reached the desired level. It may also cause the system to literally “freeze up” if set too low, causing it to run all night when the temperature outside is not very high.
Myth #5: Routine HVAC maintenance costs too much.
By catching small problems while they are still small, building owners and managers can save a lot of money, aggravation, and potential damage to the building and equipment, as well as lost business which could result from a catastrophic mechanical failure of the HVAC system.
By maintaining and operating HVAC equipment correctly, it will run at top efficiency, minimize utility costs for one of the greatest energy uses for operating a business, maintain employee comfort, and protect valuable equipment, business assets, and profits.