Periodic HVAC inspections are essential for improving the longevity of your air conditioning and heating system as well as monitoring its energy efficiency. A thorough inspection also reduces the likelihood of having no heat when you need it most or encountering expensive emergency repairs. Let’s take a look at the main reasons for an HVAC inspection and some of the benefits you can expect to see.
What is an HVAC Inspection and Why Get One?
A commercial HVAC inspection is a top-to-bottom analysis of the state of your ventilation, heating, and air conditioning equipment. It includes examining each physical part that makes up the system and also testing its efficiency according to the building’s heating and cooling load. It will let you know if your maintenance schedule is on track or if you need to make any repairs.
There are many reasons to get an HVAC inspection. For example, an HVAC inspection is essential before the sale of a building to evaluate the existing equipment. The inspection can be valuable to both the buyer and seller of the property as it reduces the chance of running into an HVAC problem right after the sale.
Also, an HVAC inspection is a good idea if a company building has been partially or fully unoccupied for a time. For example, many workers have traded the corporate office for the home office during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important for systems that have been offline for a time to be inspected as employees return to work.
Besides these external events, it’s also a good idea to get your system inspected by an HVAC technician regularly. A good rule of thumb is to have an inspection at least annually or every six months before you turn on the heat or air conditioner for the first time that year.
You can always schedule an inspection outside of these times if tenants in the building notice problems with the heating or air conditioner. That said, HVAC issues don’t always present discernable problems to tenants or employees in the building. That’s why a professional HVAC service from trained technicians is essential to having a clear picture of the health of the system.
Benefits of an HVAC Inspection
While an HVAC inspection requires a cost, you get many benefits in return. These include saving on energy costs, protecting your investment, preventing emergency repairs, and more benefits related to HVAC efficiency.
Save on Energy Costs
When your HVAC equipment is running efficiently, you’re saving money. By inspecting your heating and cooling system, you can make the right tune-ups to ensure the installation is operating at peak efficiency so you aren’t spending more on energy than you need to.
Protect Your Investment
An HVAC system is responsible for more than just heating and air conditioning. Well-maintained HVAC equipment contributes to happier customers and more productive employees. On the other hand, a major system failure can require you to close your doors to customers temporarily or send employees home. Those situations can cost more in lost revenue than the price of repairing the failure itself.
Prevent Emergency Repairs
Regular HVAC inspections and maintenance are your best defenses against costly emergency repairs. When left alone, an undiagnosed problem can snowball into an emergency situation that can cost much more to repair.
HVAC Efficiency Drives More Benefits
For grocery stores, an efficient HVAC system means more control over food freshness. For data centers, servers will be more reliable and customer data more secure. Hospitals can improve the general well-being of patients during their stay, and colleges can help students and teachers focus on education. HVAC efficiency is part of the bigger picture of what the company or organization is trying to accomplish.
Common HVAC Problems
An HVAC system has many parts including ducts, sensors, pipes, filters, chillers, risers, coils… you get the idea. With so many components, there are a range of things that can go wrong. Here are a few common HVAC issues you might encounter:
- Dirty or clogged filters: As filters clean outdoor air upon entering the building, they can become clogged and let less air pass through. This compromises efficiency. Ideally, you should have an HVAC control program monitor the air pressure on either side of your air filters to alert when they need to be replaced.
- Leaking refrigerant: Thin metal coils with refrigerant can develop leaks over time, especially if the equipment vibrates when it’s on. Losing refrigerant decreases heat transfer and can make your air conditioning blow warm air.
- Thermostat malfunctions: If a tenant in one zone of your building notices that the air never reaches the right temperature, or that the air cycles on and off quickly, the issue could be with the thermostat.
- Imbalanced zones: Dampers control heating and cooling in different areas of your building, and imbalanced dampers will cause some areas to reach the right temperature before others.
- Loose connections: Corrosion and vibration can cause electrical connections to loosen over time, which can lead to electrical shorts and even fires. It’s always important to check connections as part of a regular maintenance schedule.
What to Expect From an HVAC Inspection
HVAC inspections can look different depending on the size and type of installation, but many share basic procedures. Before the inspection, the technician will work with you to create an inspection plan based on any problems you’re having with the heating or air conditioning system.
You may have to plan for the heating and air conditioning to be offline at certain points during the inspection. Here are a few things the HVAC technician will do:
- Test the temperature and air quality in each zone to make sure they correspond to the control’s calibration
- Check for leaks in ductwork, pipes, and coils
- Check refrigerant pressure and levels
- Inspect heating ignition and test gas pressure
- Ensure tight electrical connections
- Check wearable parts like fan motor belts
- Check that ignition, exhaust, fans, and electrical wiring meets safety standards
- Assess overall heating and cooling efficiency
Afterward, the technician will share a report with the inspection findings and any recommended action steps that you should take.
How Important is HVAC Maintenance?
Modern HVAC equipment is designed to last at least 15 years, but you’ll only get that kind of longevity if you practice regular maintenance on your commercial HVAC system. Regular maintenance can prevent system failure when you most need it.
Instead of being blindsided by a huge repair, you’ll know the status of your equipment and be able to take care of small repairs as needed. For example, it’s much cheaper to replace a faulty wire before it causes a blower motor to short.
An HVAC Inspection May Help Prevent the Spread of COVID
Since COVID-19 is an airborne virus, using different HVAC filtration and purification techniques may help prevent its spread. ASHRAE.org recommends filters have at least MERV-13 efficiency to decrease COVID-19 spread. However, this level of filtration will create more air pressure and require more energy, so it isn’t feasible for every system.
Another option is to install ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) components to further decrease spread. These can be installed into ducts, near evaporator coils, or in the upper portion of occupied rooms. Oxidation & Ionization technologies can further purify the air and prevent the spread of contagion.
Increasing the portion of fresh air to recirculated air can help as well. The WHO recommends using as much as 100% fresh air and keeping the HVAC running at normal capacity to all zones, even if fewer people are in the building.
Know the Health of Your HVAC
Whether you have a standard office HVAC installation or a custom HVAC system with multiple redundancies, the team at Spaeder is available to give you an accurate assessment of your equipment.
We use the latest technology to inspect HVAC systems in a variety of industries in Erie, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo. Contact an HVAC specialist today to schedule an inspection and make sure your system is running at peak efficiency.