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8 HVAC Problems Commercial Buildings Experience in the Winter

by Patti Althoff - Siwicki | Nov 20, 2019 | Property Manager, Preventive Maintenance, HVAC, Facility Manager, HVAC Maintenance, HVAC Repair, Preventative Maintenance, commercial plumbing | 0 Comments

8 hvac problems for chicago buildings

Are you concerned about the efficiency and reliability of your commercial HVAC system in Chicago? If you haven’t had your system inspected and repaired recently, now may be a good time to call for preventative maintenance. This is because HVAC systems can wear out over time, leading to a loss of energy-efficiency and unexpected breakdowns that could leave your building without heat for several hours or even several days, depending on the complexity of the needed repairs. Here at Althoff, we want you to be aware of the common problems commercial HVAC systems experience in the winter so that you can take steps to avoid these scenarios.

1. Poor Indoor Air Quality

As you seal your building to prevent cold air from infiltrating your indoor spaces and hot air from escaping, you may notice an increase in indoor allergy symptoms. This is due to a decrease in air quality as dust, dirt and pet dander accumulates. To reduce the risk of poor indoor air quality and illnesses from indoor pathogens, we recommend changing your HVAC system’s air filter once a month, especially if you have a lot of pets or tobacco users in your building.

If you are changing your filter once every 30 days and still notice a decrease in your building’s indoor air quality as the winter progresses, you could have mold, mildew, dust and pet dander in your air ducts. To fix this problem, we recommend air duct cleaning and sealing, which removes all the allergens and filth from your commercial air ducts.

Another solution is to make sure that your ventilation system is operating correctly and allowing enough fresh air into the building while venting stale air. Thankfully, we can test your indoor air quality and recommend the appropriate repairs so that you do not experience severe indoor allergies this winter.

2. Uneven Building Heating

If you notice that some rooms in your building are colder than others, check to make sure that nothing is blocking the air vents. Furniture and other items on air vents can block the airflow into the room. Another issue that can cause uneven building heating is holes or cracks in your air ducts. An inspection of your air ducts can locate cracks, gaps and holes so that they can be repaired. Here at Althoff, we can also insulate your air ducts if they are located in unheated areas of your building or along external walls.

3. Increase in Winter Heating Bills

While winter heating bills do tend to increase as temperatures get colder, you shouldn’t notice huge spikes, unless the outdoor temperatures suddenly decreased dramatically. If you are uncertain as to whether your heating bills have increased dramatically, you can check your heating bills and compare them month to month and from year to year. If you do notice unexplained increases, it could be due to a loss of Proactive maintenance checklist call to action

4. Furnace Blowing Cold Air Through the Ducts

The most common reason HVAC systems blow cold air, especially at the beginning of the heating season, is due to a mis-set thermostat. The first thing we recommend is checking your thermostats to make sure they are set to heating and not cooling and that the proper temperatures are programmed into the thermostat. If your thermostat is set to heat and all the correct temperatures are input, there could be problems with the sensors inside your thermostat. Additional causes of your commercial HVAC system blowing cold air include problems with the heating elements or coils, an extinguished pilot light, overheating of the system, faulty gas valves, malfunctioning thermocouples and broken ignitions.

5. Frozen Pipes

In the winter, you probably associate frozen pipes with your plumbing system, but your commercial HVAC system also has pipes that can freeze in temperature below 32 degrees. Hot water heaters, water and steam boilers and hydronic heating systems can all experience frozen pipes. If you suspect that you have frozen pipes in your heating system, you should consider this an emergency situation. Frozen pipes can burst, leading to extensive water damage in your building.

6. Broken and Non-Functioning Thermostats

Your building’s thermostats are what tell your HVAC system to turn on and off. When the temperature decreases below the thermostat setting, it tells the heating system to activate and add more warm air to your building. Once the desired temperature has been reached, the thermostat tells the HVAC system to turn off or lower the heat output. If your thermostat is completely broken or the sensors have become dirty or worn, you may notice problems with your indoor temperatures. Thankfully, our HVAC technicians can inspect thermostats and repair or replace them so that you can have reliable heat this winter. We can even replace your old thermostats with programmable or SMART thermostats to help you better control the heat output in your commercial or large residential building.

7. Bad Pilot Lights

If your HVAC system runs off natural gas, a lack of heat could be caused by a bad pilot light that isn’t burning brightly or at all. The number one cause of a blown-out pilot light or one that doesn’t burn at all is a faulty sensor that has become dirty or corroded. You may also have an improperly functioning gas valve that has frozen in the off position. If you notice that you have a pilot light that has burnt out or won’t stay lit, it’s imperative that you turn off the gas to the system and call for an HVAC repair.

8. Incomplete Fuel Burning

Incomplete fuel burning can lower your energy-efficiency and lead to an increase in your winter heating bills. It can also lead to carbon monoxide leaking from your heating system, which is a colorless and odorless gas that can cause severe injuries and even death to anyone who inhales it. In order to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, it is imperative that you have carbon monoxide detectors around your heating equipment and throughout your building. If you suspect that your HVAC system is leaking carbon monoxide, it’s important to air out the area by opening windows, vacating the area with the increased levels of carbon monoxide and calling for an immediate HVAC repair.

Winter HVAC Maintenance with Althoff, Serving Chicago

Here at Althoff, we offer commercial heating services to Chicago and the surrounding areas. Our HVAC services include regular winter and spring maintenance, inspections and tests to help improve indoor comfort, humidity control, indoor air testing and environmental quality, repair and replacement of sensors and thermostats, BAS upgrades and installation and HVAC repairs of your commercial heating equipment and the ventilation system, including rooftop air handling.

To learn more about our maintenance plans or to replace or upgrade your current HVAC system, give us a call at 800-225-2443.


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