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3 Common Commercial HVAC Issues and How to Reverse Them

Published: November, 30 2017

Managing a large commercial facility is a constant balancing act with dozens of tasks that need attention on a daily basis. It pays to learn how to quickly diagnose and fix issues with the building’s mechanical systems when they first appear rather than ignoring them or putting them off while they just get worse.

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To that end, we’re offering a quick, practical guide designed to help building owners and facility managers identify and reverse three common commercial HVAC problems that could occur in your building:

Problem 1: Unusual noises coming from the vents

Heating or A/C vents that make a lot of noise can be annoying for tenants and customers alike, even affecting productivity or sales. If your tenants are complaining of noisy ventilation, here are the most likely causes:

  • Loose or broken fan blades
  • Cracked or broken air ducts

Occasionally, the sounds could be coming from the heating or cooling units themselves. If you can access the unit, get close enough to determine if the sounds are louder near the unit, and if they correspond to what tenants are hearing elsewhere in the building.

Solution: Get professional HVAC help to investigate

In both cases, isolating and resolving the issue is best handled by professional commercial HVAC technicians who have expertise and equipment not available to your in-house maintenance crew. Contact your local, trusted commercial HVAC company to have an experienced technician sent out soon.

Problem 2: Poor air quality

If tenants in a localized area of the building complain about stuffiness, odors with no obvious cause, or other issues involving air quality, it’s a sign that maintenance is needed on one or more of the air ducts servicing that area. If the air quality issue seems to be more widespread, the problem is more likely in the mechanical equipment itself.

Some common causes of poor air quality in commercial systems include:

  • Dirty air filters
  • Condensed water that’s become stagnant
  • Melted debris on the heat exchanger
  • Mechanical parts that are overheating

The Solution: Routine maintenance

All of these common poor air quality culprits can be identified and resolved by means of a well-developed and strategic planned maintenance program. Routine maintenance by a certified technician can usually catch these issues before they get bad enough to harm air quality. That’s because a comprehensive maintenance plan includes visual inspections of the ventilation ducts and machinery, as well as tests to determine if any parts of the mechanical system or ductwork need to be repaired or replaced to prevent future issues.

Problem 3: Rising energy bills

In some cases, the heating or cooling system may still be maintaining a comfortable temperature and air quality may be fine throughout the building, but you notice an unexplained increase in your monthly energy usage.

This is likely because the system is struggling to perform efficiently due to an underlying problem, and is it needs to use more energy to do its job. This can happen for many reasons:

  • Equipment and ducting needs to be cleaned
  • Equipment is nearing the end of its expected lifespan
  • One or more system components is malfunctioning or not functioning, requiring others to pick up the slack
  • Electronic controls are malfunctioning or need to be recalibrated

Solution: It depends on the root cause

While all of these issues are relatively simple to notice and diagnose, they require different solutions. The most effective option in each case is to have a trained technician come in to perform an operational assessment and a thorough inspection so they can properly identify the root cause(s) of the issues you’ve noted.

Installing a building automation and analytics system to control and monitor your HVAC system via electronic sensors can help make this process faster and easier. Some modern HVAC systems can incorporate machine learning and artificial intelligence to continually optimize the system, making sure it’s always running as efficiently as possible and that you’re aware of any issues that can adversely affect the system as early as possible.

Of course, building automation and analytics can be a big step and a sizable investment, so it’s important to consider your current HVAC system’s health and lifespan first.

At Engineered Cooling, our experienced commercial HVAC staff is here to answer your questions and discuss your options for resolving common problems with your commercial building’s heating and cooling systems.

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