Kuegler Associates: Consulting Engineers - Designed Right = Built Right

There is perhaps nothing worse for business productivity than having an HVAC system that’s not working properly, making workers miserable and impacting efficiency.

If summer’s hot and sticky weather has made you aware of an inefficient air-conditioning system it could be an indicator of a system that needs maintenance or even one that’s not appropriate for your space and is running above its maximum design points. If so, here are some tips and procedures you can use to pinpoint the problem so that you can effectively address system weaknesses and inefficiencies.

If you and your workers are feeling hot and clammy, here’s how you can systematically identify the problem or problems:

  1. Make note of conditions in the spaces needing better temperature control:
  • What areas are too hot (or too cold in the winter)?
  • Is there air movement by workers especially feeling hot or cold?
  • Are doors being left open to help people stay cool?
  • Does your building have excessive air infiltration?
  • Is the air excessively sticky, with high humidity?
  1. Examine system design and functionality:
  • Where are the thermostats and controls located?
  • Are AC units cycling on and off frequently?
  • Are units tripping circuits or failing altogether?
  • Do your energy costs seem unusually high?

Just being comfortable is not the only reason to take a closer like at your HVAC system this season. An inefficient heating, air-conditioning and ventilation system also poses some serious risks. Mold, dust, bacteria, gases, and other particles can be transmitted through the air by a poorly maintained and inefficient HVAC system, which can cause employees to have allergic reactions or experience other health issues. Mold, in particular, is always a main cause for concern. Mold will appear in all HVAC systems unless maintained properly, as it lives within environments with excess moisture, which means your HVAC’s ducts, coils, and drip pans.

If you’ve noticed higher energy costs or your system running more frequently, it may be because the chiller is not up to the task at hand. Chillers are among the largest single energy users in HVAC systems, often accounting for 50% of total HVAC electricity cost. A chiller works to remove heat to produce cooler temperatures (air conditioning). In appropriately-sized system or improper maintenance can cause chillers to get clogs or damaged tubes and leaks, which can lead to an increase on your electricity bill – as much as 10% or more. One way to improve a chiller’s efficiency is to install a variable speed drive (VSD). A VSD calculates the required load demand the HVAC needs to cool a building properly and matches the motor speed to that demand to reduce energy and improve efficiency. Variable speed drives are important for enhancing chiller reliability and lifespan.

If summer’s heat is causing unnecessary suffering in your building, now’s the time to examine your HVAC system and make some changes. For more information on selecting, installing, and maintaining a commercial HVAC system contact our HVAC experts.