HVAC Systems

HVAC systems are present in most facilities especially those which are inhabited. They can be seen as the lifeblood of any building. A building that lacks proper ventilation and air circulation not only affects workers comfort levels but also has a knock on effect on their productivity levels. Although essential, HVAC systems are an expensive asset for organisations. Not only to buy the full system, they are expensive to install and expensive to run. There is a temptation for organisations to invest in a high end HVAC system, assuming that it will run smoothly for a considerable amount of time. However this isn’t true, as no matter how high spec the equipment is, if it is not maintained properly it will experience problems. This will just lead to organisations spending more. For example if a piece of equipment costs €20,000 to buy, and is maintained each year at a cost of €1,000 and lasts 10 years, it will cost €30,000 every 10 years. However if it is not maintained regularly it could easily breakdown in 5 years and will have to be replaced. The total price will come to €40,000 thus leaving savings of €10,000.  Adding to this a number of other questions need to be asked. How long would it take to purchase and install the replacement? How would its failure impact operations? Would some operations have to be moved to temporary facilities, and what would the cost of that move be?

Regular HVAC maintenance improves reliability and greatly minimises reactive works. Reactive maintenance is the most costly way to maintain building HVAC systems. According to Facilitiesnet.com organisations that have implemented a planned preventative maintenance system show significant decreases in maintenance costs. Regular maintenance will ensure that all HVAC systems are operating to their optimum level with good quality air being filtrated at all times. For example if a HVAC system is off calibration by only a couple of percent, it can result in increased running costs of 10% – 15% if not corrected.

To put it into context, it is less costly to replace filters on a scheduled basis than it is to replace them when clogged filters have led to reduced air flow. Reduced air flow can lead to catastrophic component failure or an inability to heat or cool the space adequately. The cost is greater also, as a replacement filter will require two visits from the technician, one to diagnose the problem and a second visit to replace the filters after the sizes and quantities have been determined.

Analysis of large and moderate sized buildings reveals that regular HVAC systems in typical commercial buildings are responsible for more than 40% of total energy use. Keeping HVAC systems running properly and at peak efficiency is the first step in managing facility energy use. Facilities in which proper HVAC maintenance is completed will use at least 15 to 20 percent less energy than those where systems are allowed to deteriorate.

No matter where you are, winter months can be quite cold. The risk of HVAC breakdowns is greater this time of the year which makes it imperative to ensure that all HVAC equipment is protected from freezing weather conditions. For example, equipment such as cooling towers need heat tracing to prevent critical pipes from freezing. The chance of pipes bursting is a lot greater in freezing weather conditions. It is imperative that control methods are utilised. This will involve utilising an ambient-sensing t-stat which can monitor the temperature outside. A Heat Trace System will be activated to energise the system whenever outside temperatures fall below setpoint.

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