3 Ways to Tell Your Commercial Building Needs a New HVAC System
They say there’s no problem more dangerous than the one you don’t know about.
When you’re running a business, seemingly small issues can suddenly become very large if they’re ignored long enough. In many cases, resolving these kinds of “hidden” problems can end up costing many times what they would have cost to prevent in the first place.
One example of this type of issue is the operational status of your commercial building’s HVAC system. If the heat or air kicks on when you expect it to, it’s easy to ignore the system’s inner workings. In fact, since problems often develop slowly over time, it’s common for building owners and facility managers to overlook little inconveniences or warnings that pop up here and there. But if you head into work one July day and find the inside of the building is 95 degrees, it’s suddenly a much bigger issue.
To help avoid potential disaster of that magnitude, take a moment now to consider these three warning signs indicating your building may need a new HVAC system (or, at the very least, the system needs some help).
Tenant, employee, or customer complaints
Depending on the type of facility you own and how it’s used, complaints could come from a number of sources. And, realistically, different people have different preferences when it comes to temperature, so complaints should be taken with a grain of salt.
But, if any of the following complaints start regularly appearing in your inbox from tenants, employees, or customers in your facility, you should definitely investigate what’s causing the issue:
- Large swings in temperature - If it’s running right, your HVAC system should operate smoothly and efficiently when regulating the temperature. It should be able to easily handle changing circumstances in both the internal and external environment. The temperature should not be volatile, especially if the system is automated and has timers set to accommodate the facility’s use schedule.
- Controls acting erratically - If your HVAC system includes automated controls that rely on sensors rather than manually adjusting the settings, but you’re still getting complaints, the sensors or controls may be malfunctioning. This can cause unexpected changes to temperature or air quality, often in localized areas.
- Poor air quality - If your tenants or customers complain of odd smells, (mustiness, the smell of mold,) or if the air is very dry humid, these can all be signs that the HVAC system requires cleaning inspection, maintenance, or repair.
All of these issues may cause people working in the building to be uncomfortable and unproductive, especially if they go on for a long time. They can even cause customers to seek out the competition.
Heating and cooling costs that are out of control
Utility costs fluctuating throughout the year are normal as they’re usually based on seasonal changes. However, if you find that your energy costs are erratic or always on the rise, it’s definitely worth exploring how the HVAC system is utilizing that energy. There may be opportunity for a planned maintenance program or energy optimization plan to control these costs.
In some cases, routine maintenance that’s been neglected or poorly performed can lead to clogged air filters, dirty condenser units, or other minor issues that can be easily resolved.
Or, this dramatic drop in energy efficiency could be a sign of a bigger problem. For example, one of the main HVAC components may require replacement or upgrade. The building itself may have fallen into disrepair causing leakage of hot or cold air and forcing the HVAC system to work harder. It’s important to work with a trusted commercial HVAC company to discover the root of the problem and determine how to address it.
Failure to comply with regulations
The current building codes in Florida include energy regulations based primarily on the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). While compliance to these regulations is primarily limited to new construction, any time a new certificate of occupancy is issued and/or a code inspection is required, energy regulation compliance becomes necessary.
Commercial buildings may also require periodic inspections from outside agencies for a number of reasons, including maintaining compliance to various federal, state, and local regulations involving air quality.
As a conscientious commercial building owner, you should take news of non-compliance seriously. Failure to comply could end up costing money (in the form of penalties or inability to qualify for rebates and incentives,) and it can also be a warning sign that something is wrong with your HVAC system. This is especially noteworthy if the system is less than 10 years old, since it was likely designed and installed with modern IECC regulatory compliance in mind. Non-compliance is likely a sign of needed maintenance or repair.
These three issues need to be on your radar as you run your facility and monitor the performance and efficiency of your commercial HVAC system. If you notice any of the warning signs discussed, or have questions about the performance of your mechanical systems contact Engineered Cooling today to discover the best solutions for your building.