In the depths of winter, the last thing you want to hear is that there is a problem with the HVAC system. Come to think of it, you don’t want to hear that in the middle of a heatwave either. Even with the best maintenance system in place, there is a small chance that there will be a problem at some time, particularly if your system is a little older. What are the most common problems then and how can you look out for and fix them before they become big and expensive? Our article this month focuses on just that and on how to spot such problems.
Possibly the most common problem encountered by building services. An HVAC system will draw in air from outside which brings with it minute pieces of dust, dirt, and rubbish which are caught by the filters. Eventually, they will become blocked if they are not cleaned regularly and replaced periodically. Make a note to check them on a quarterly basis as a minimum or ask your engineering team to check these for you to see if they need replacing.
How to spot a blocked filter: your energy bills may be higher, or you may notice odours and more allergens in the air as there is less effective filtering.
The refrigerant in your HVAC system operates to keep the air cool by circulating through the system’s coils. Over time, refrigerant can leak out leaving less in the system which makes its job less effective. The result is a hotter environment and potentially overheated condensers as the units work harder to reach the desired temperature. Contact your engineering team to top up or replace your HVAC’s refrigerant as soon as you notice any problems.
How to spot a refrigerant problem: air will be warmer than usual and possibly more humid as well.
Air balance issues
Warm and cool air is circulated through your building passing through a series of ducts before coming out of the vents. To balance the air evenly, dampers will regulate how much air passes through each duct. If there is a problem with the dampers you could end up with more warm or cool air in one spot than another, creating an air imbalance issue. Your engineering team should be able to reset the dampers so that your system is operating efficiently.
How to spot a damper problem: rooms are heating or cooling unevenly, or they may be warming or cooling at a faster or slower rate than others.
A lack of maintenance can lead to all sorts of problems ranging from clogged filters to full system failures. The importance of regular maintenance cannot be overstated as it can save you from significant expenses to correct or even replace HVAC systems in extreme cases. A regular maintenance programme will help you identify any issues before they escalate into major repairs.
How to spot a problem: your HVAC system is working less efficiently, or your energy bills are suddenly higher. Frequent malfunctions or break-downs are also common with reduced maintenance.