With the weather starting to heat up, it’s a good time
for facility managers in any business to make sure their Heating, Ventilation,
and the Air Conditioning system (HVAC) is running well. This routine maintenance is
essential to maintaining a comfortable and safe environment for employees and
In many installations, air conditioning tends to operate
constantly during the warmer months. Machines and systems that get so little
downtime must be well-maintained to avoid overheating and overloading of the
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a
poorly-installed HVAC system can result in a facility using as
much as 30 percent more energy,
meaning higher costs. For this reason, you’ll want to have your system
regularly inspected. Routine checks can also detect minor problems before they
become more serious.
By following a few simple maintenance tips, you will
also avoid future emergencies and a scary energy bill at the end of the month.
Replace Air Filters
Every A/C system works with air filters. The system
sucks in the air of a room, treats it to reduce the temperature, and finally
returns the air through the ducts. The moment the air is sucked in, it passes through
the filters, where particles such as dust, pollen, and even
bacteria and fungi are retained.
Eventually, all this cleaning catches up to them, and
the filters themselves will become clogged by retaining so much debris. If
they’re not cleaned and replaced frequently, the air will no longer be filtered
effectively, and the particles will clog your system, causing it to overload.
This can reduce its capacity or even grind things to a halt altogether.
Check the filters at least once a month to prevent your
system from breaking down (and to keep the air clean and healthy). Some systems
work with disposable filters, which can be exchanged and discarded; others are
permanent and need periodic cleaning. It’s essential to do this maintenance
every one to three months.
Monitor Ducts for Leaks
If you feel that your system is not working correctly,
but you’re sure the problem isn’t with the filters, there may be a leak in the
Never underestimate the problem: even when detecting a
minor leak, carry out the necessary maintenance to prevent it from becoming
more serious. Tears are not always visible. To identify hidden leaks, use these
Turn on the HVAC system at maximum
and check the ducts for air coming out.
Check the points where two air
ducts connect, as these tend to be weak spots.
Light a candle or incense and pass
it under the pipe—if a stream of air blows the flame or smoke, you’ll know you
have a minor leak.
Look for old improvised patches
with duct tape, as they also tend to be weak and prone to re-rupturing.
Regularly Check Drain Lines and Coils
The drain line takes the water drawn from the humidity
of the air into a tray. Evaporator and condenser coils are the part of the
system where the heat from the air is absorbed. They require constant
maintenance: debris can accumulate and form a sludge that clogs the drain line,
while the accumulation of dust prevents coils from absorbing heat and can cause
Clearing the drain lines is
relatively simple: you can do it with the help of a hose or vacuum cleaner. Coils
require extra attention, as they are one of the most
expensive parts of the system to replace. Check them frequently, cleaning and
unclogging dust and other types of debris.
Keep Your Refrigerant Levels Steady
Air conditioning units work thanks to a chemical called
refrigerant (also called freon), which is responsible for cooling the air. It
undergoes an evaporation process that disperses its chilled molecules through
the air, lowering its temperature as well. When you run low, the system won’t
be able to keep things as cool as necessary. It can become overheated by the
energy its own machinery produces.
If a room is taking longer than usual to cool off, or if
the set temperature is never reached, or if there are water leaks or hissing
noises along the ducts, you may need to top off your freon.
How Will You Remember All This? Implement a CMMS
Although each of these tasks may seem simple on its own,
they can quickly add up to become overwhelming. The best way for a facility
manager to be up-to-date on necessary maintenance, without relying solely on
memory, is to implement a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS).
You can use this software to automate reminders for all of this maintenance, in
addition to other tasks.
Top CMMS options like FMX
allow you to centralize information about all processes and assets and create a
work order portal. This means that you and your crew will know when the HVAC
system was last monitored, when it may have had problems, and what procedures
were performed to address them. This information allows you to create a
preventive maintenance schedule to ensure the equipment’s proper efficiency.
Cool the Premises Without Heating Up the Energy Bill
Billions of dollars are spent every year on HVAC
systems—and many of the highest bills among them are served to facilities that
failed to do basic upkeep and were therefore forced into emergency maintenance
or even an unscheduled full system replacement.
Performing regular maintenance is a simple way to extend the life of the system in your facility. The practice guarantees savings in the energy bill, a more durable and efficient system, and above all, better air quality for everyone.