With the end of summer rapidly approaching and the eminent onset of fall, you may be thinking about switching your HVAC system from cooling to heating, but is it ready? When it comes to ensuring that your commercial HVAC system in Chicago is ready for fall and winter, one of the best things you can do is schedule a fall inspection, which helps ensure there are no excessively worn parts and usually includes an interior and exterior cleaning of the system.
1. Should you schedule preventative maintenance for your commercial HVAC system?
Most businesses and large residential condos, apartments and co-op buildings don’t think about their HVAC systems until they stop providing cool and/or warm air. Reactive maintenance isn’t the most effective way to maintain your commercial HVAC system. It can reduce the total life expectancy, resulting in higher utility bills and make your customers, residents, clients and guests uncomfortable during their stay. In order to ensure everyone is comfortable and that you are using as little energy as possible to heat and cool your building, our HVAC technicians at Althoff recommend getting your system services in the fall just prior to switching from air conditioning to heating.
2. Should your maintenance schedule be semi-annual, biannual or biennial?
When you review HVAC maintenance websites in order to get recommendations for how often you should have your commercial HVAC system inspected, you may notice that some sites recommend getting your system serviced semi-annually, and others recommend biannual maintenance. The good news is that these terms mean the same thing. Biannual contains the prefix ‘bi’ which means two and annual means once a year, so you probably already knew that biannual means twice a year. However, it’s important not to confuse biannual with biennial, which means once every two years.
The term semi-annual also means twice a year. The prefix ‘semi’ means partial or half, which is slightly less specific than the prefix ‘bi’, but when taken to mean half, this term means you should get your HVAC system inspected twice a year or once every six months. For most businesses and large residential complexes, this would mean getting your HVAC system inspected in April or May and again in September or October.
3. What’s included in a commercial HVAC maintenance plan?
The exact items that are included in an HVAC maintenance checklist and plan are subject to the contractor and the type of plan. In general, you can expect all the moving parts to be inspected as well as the heating coils, coolant levels, electrical voltage and general condition of the equipment. Here at Althoff, we inspect all the internal and external components of your heating and cooling equipment as well as its function. Each inspection starts with a lockout/tagout in order to ensure safety. We check and replace filters, adjust control devices, inspect and test coolant levels, panels, dampener operation, sensors, pumps and ductwork as well as many other system components including:
Clean and lubricate interior and exterior moving parts
Inspect air ducts
Inspect all connectors and Isolators
Inspect and lube bearings
Inspect and replace belts, if needed
Inspect Blowers and Fans
Inspect HVAC insulation
Proper fluid flow for optimal heat transfer
As we check your system, our HVAC technicians in Chicago also write down notes and potential issues so that they can be repaired in a timely manner. If there are any urgent issues, we will bring them to your attention and explain the needed repairs. If your system is near or at the end of its useful life, we can recommend energy-efficient replacements.
4. Is there a cost benefit for scheduling preventative maintenance VS waiting until the system is experiencing a breakdown?
When many property managers and landlords think about HVAC preventative maintenance, they think about dollars leaving the business rather than dollars saved. After all, there is a cost associated with scheduling preventative maintenance and inspections of your critical equipment, including your HVAC system in Chicago. However, the cost of finding potential problems early is much less than the cost of having to schedule emergency maintenance and repairs, especially if you have to call the HVAC company at night, on the weekend or on a holiday.
Not to mention, a lack of preventative maintenance can lead to sensors and dampeners becoming miscalibrated and coolant levels falling below optimal levels. This can cause your heating and cooling equipment to work harder than normal. When your HVAC system works harder, it uses more energy, which results in higher utility bills, and it wears out your system faster. This means that if the average HVAC unit lasts 15 to 25 years with proper maintenance, you may only get 15 years or less if you fail to perform timely maintenance. Not to mention, emergency repairs tend to take place after catastrophic failures, which means you’ll get a higher repair bill than if you had simply replaced the worn part shortly after it was found during the inspection.
5. What is the ideal commercial HVAC inspection plan?
The ideal commercial HVAC inspection plan is one that conforms to the manufacturer’s recommendations and the age of your system. Older systems should be inspected fairly frequently. Newer systems may have a recommendation or requirement in order to maintain the validity of any warranties. Here at Althoff, we recommend getting your system services in the late spring and early to mid-fall. This allows your system to be inspected and repaired prior to the cooling season and again before the temperature drop. This helps ensure that you have reliable climate controlled air all year long and that your ventilation equipment allows the proper amount of fresh air into your building.
6. How do I schedule preventative maintenance for my HVAC system with Althoff, serving the greater Chicago area?
Scheduling preventative maintenance is easy. All you have to do is call us at 1-800-225-2443. For a complete list of everything we inspect and a sample of our HVAC inspection form, click on the button below. All of our inspection, repair and installation protocols are in compliance with ASHRAE standards.