Midwest Mechanical - An HVAC Blog

3 Commercial HVAC Warning Signs You Don’t Want to Ignore

Published: February 06, 2017

Written by Midwest Mech

When you’re busy just making it through the day and handling all the vital tasks required to run a successful business, it’s easy to let seemingly unimportant details slip through the cracks. But sometimes little things that seemed unimportant one day can become major problems the next day if they’re ignored.

An example we see far too often is a commercial building’s HVAC system that’s been sending up flares for months, but no one’s noticed. While the system keeps on heating or cooling the building, it’s easy to ignore little warning signs that something’s not right, even if there are some minor inconveniences or temporary malfunctions. But if you show up one day in August and find it’s 95 degrees inside, it’s suddenly a much bigger issue.

Commercial HVAC Warning Signs You Don’t Want to Ignore

To help avoid the potential disaster of a catastrophic failure, let’s take a quick look at these three warning signs your Chicago HVAC system needs some professional attention:

Skyrocketing energy costs

Seasonal fluctuation in energy costs is to be expected. But if you see your energy costs wildly changing or skyrocketing with no explanation, it’s definitely worth troubleshooting the HVAC system to see how efficiently it’s operating. It’s quite possible the system needs planned maintenance and/or it could benefit from a professionally-designed energy optimization plan to help get these costs under control.

If routine maintenance has been neglected or performed poorly, the result could be clogged air filters, dirty condenser units, or any number of easily fixed issues.

In some cases, though, rising energy costs can be a sign of a bigger problem. It’s possible one or more of the main HVAC components is nearing the end of its lifecycle and the inefficiency you’re noting is a natural byproduct of its deteriorating condition. The building itself may need structural repair to seal leaks or improve insulation so that the HVAC system no longer needs to work so hard to maintain a steady temperature. The best bet in all these cases is to work with a trusted commercial HVAC company to discover the root cause of whatever issue you’re facing and have them conduct a cost/risk analysis to determine the best way to proceed. Learn more about how energy rebates can help boost ROI for your facility. 

Tenant or customer complaints

How your facility is used will determine where you’re likely to hear complaints first. If you start noticing patterns - you’re hearing some of the following complaints regularly from tenants, employees, visitors, or customers - there’s definitely reason to investigate:

  • Erratic temperature - your HVAC system should operate smoothly and efficiently, regulating temperature throughout the day in line with changes in ambient temperature outside and internal usage. Temperature changes shouldn’t be highly erratic, too slow to change, or overcompensating once they’re initiated.
  • Ventilation concerns - if individuals complain about the air quality - strange smells, mustiness, or extremely dry or humid air, these can all be signs the HVAC system is in need of cleaning, inspection, maintenance, or repair.
  • Malfunctioning controls - modern automated HVAC systems rely on sensors and controls more than on manual adjustments, so if the thermostats are set at what should be a comfortable level but you’re still getting complaints, it could mean one or more sensors or controls are malfunctioning. The result would be unexpected temperature or air quality changes, often in one room or level of the building, but not everywhere.

Regardless of the root causes, if people working in the building are complaining, they’re likely uncomfortable and therefore less productive. And if customers are complaining, they may end up looking elsewhere.

Failure to comply with regulations

Commercial buildings are periodically inspected by government agencies and others for a variety of reasons revolving around compliance with a long list of federal, state, and local laws that regulate air quality and energy efficiency among other things.

Some building owners and facility managers take a lackadaisical view of regulatory compliance, but it’s important to view the matter seriously, because failure to comply can be result in costly penalties and can prevent the facility from qualifying for valuable rebates and incentives.

In addition, falling out of compliance can also be a warning sign that there’s something wrong with the HVAC system. This is especially true if the system is less than 10 years old, because it was most likely designed and installed with current regulatory compliance in mind. If it’s out of compliance now, something has changed for the worse.

These three warning signs: skyrocketing energy costs, complaints from people who live or work in the building, and regulatory non-compliance, can serve as valuable red flags indicating your commercial HVAC system needs some TLC. If these issues come to your attention, or if you have questions about how your system is performing, contact Midwest Mechanical today to speak to our team of HVAC technicians and engineers. We’ll be delighted to help you find the best solutions for your commercial Chicago building.

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