As a facility manager in the Windy City, you’re responsible for all the mechanical assets of the commercial building you’re caring for, including the HVAC system. While paying the bills may be the building’s owner responsibility, budgeting is your concern too.
To strike a balance between cost control and getting the most value from your HVAC system, you need to establish a strategic planned maintenance program as part of your annual budget so you can take full advantage of the opportunities planned maintenance provides.
Planned HVAC maintenance will:
- Optimize energy efficiency
- Limit or eliminate unexpected repair and replacement costs
- Prolong the life of the equipment
- Maintain optimal comfort level
But don’t fool yourself into thinking having one of your maintenance staff run through a daily checklist while they make their rounds is sufficient. A planned maintenance program for your commercial HVAC system involves a full year’s schedule of coordinated inspections, tests, and adjustments that are best handled by a trained and experienced professional technician.
Seasonal Chicago Commercial HVAC Service Checklist
Here’s a brief outline of the kind of maintenance items you should expect to include on your 2017 commercial HVAC service checklist:
Spring inspection (May or June)
Before the heaviest part of the cooling season hits, it’s important to have all cooling-related components in the system inspected, cleaned, and maintained to ensure energy efficiency and high performance when heavy air conditioning usage begins.
In Chicago, peak high temperatures usually occur between July and September, so this inspection and maintenance should occur no later than June.
Summer check-up (July or August)
A second, less intensive check-up should be scheduled for the peak of the cooling season. This operational inspection will focus on verifying that parts that passed inspection in the spring are holding up as expected and that overall performance is within energy efficiency parameters.
As needed, controls and control software should be fine-tuned at this point to improve efficiency or usage scheduling.
Autumn inspection (October or November)
As we head into the winter, a full-scale inspection and evaluation of the heating system should be handled before temperatures start to plummet. Just like the spring inspection, the purpose is to test and evaluate heating system components to ensure they are up to the task of carrying the energy burden during the peak output of the heating system.
Since the coldest temperatures in Chicago are historically from December through March, this inspection should occur no later than November.
Winter check-up (January or February)
The purpose of this less intensive inspection is to confirm that the heating system is operating efficiently and performing optimally during the coldest part of the year.
While cleaning, repair, and replacement of worn components may be necessary during this period, the focus will likely be on fine tuning controls and boosting efficiency based on actual usage from a month-over-month basis.
What is involved in a visual inspection?
Both the larger scale pre-season inspections in the spring and fall, as well as the operational inspections during the heating and cooling seasons require a visual inspection of these (and other) system components:
- Heating Sections
- Condensate Drains & Pans
- Flame Composition
- Spray Nozzles & Pans
- Crank Case Heaters
- Igniter & Flame Assembly
- Fan Assemblies
In all cases, it’s important to inspect the component for signs of wear, lubrication needs, and perform any necessary cleaning or sanitizing to improve function or safety.
What’s involved in testing and evaluating HVAC components?
Another important aspect of seasonal inspections for planned maintenance involves testing electrical and mechanical components using various instruments to determine how efficiently they are running and where there is room for improvement.
The following tests must be regularly performed:
- Water Flows
- Pressures & Temperatures
- Flow Switch Operations
- Outside Air Intakes
- Control Interlocks
- Refrigerant Pump Down
- Flue Stack Assembly
In combination with a visual inspection of all key components, these tests can ferret out parts that need tuning or replacement, and controls that could use optimization.
As you can see, there’s a lot to an effective planned maintenance program for your commercial HVAC system. But, considering the cost of replacement or major repair, it’s easy to see the value of investing in this kind of program rather than allowing the system to age faster than it has to and only fixing things when they break.
If you’d like to discuss the options available in planned maintenance programs for your Chicago-area commercial facility, contact Midwest Mechanical today.