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June 12, 2021 | Blog

HVAC Maintenance:
What You Need to Know
(With Illustrations)

Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems are big investments, and they do not last forever. Learn more about your HVAC system and how to maintain it with this helpful guide.

The term HVAC is widely used, and most people have a general understanding of what it means. But how does actually it help you and your facility? And how can you maintain it to get maximum benefits?

Read this step-by-step guide to have all your HVAC questions answered, and more!

What Is HVAC?

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.

Commercial and residential buildings are heated and cooled using this technology. HVAC can be found in a variety of places, from single-family houses to submarines, and they provide environmental comfort. 

These systems bring in fresh air from the outside to maintain a high level of interior air quality.

How Does Your HVAC System Work?

An HVAC system serves a purpose beyond simply heating or cooling a space. Instead, it improves interior air quality and provides comfort for everyone inside the building. 

While HVAC units come in a variety of shapes and sizes, they all start with the same basic components.

Your system has nine components that you should become familiar with:

Air Return

The portion of your system that signals the start of the ventilation cycle is your air return. This return takes in air, filters it, and then discharges it into the main system. 

Filters

The air is drawn through your filter, which is the second part of the air return system.

Exhaust Outlets

The exhaust outlets, which are where the exhaust created by the heating system is released, are another essential component of your system.

Air Ducts

Your ducts are the channels through which heated or cooled air flows.

Electrical Elements

This section can be a little tricky, but it’s where most problems start.

Outdoor Unit

When someone discusses an HVAC system, this is often the part of the system that first comes to mind. The fan that generates airflow is housed in the outdoor unit.

Compressor

The compressor, which is part of the outdoor unit, is responsible for turning refrigerant from a gas to a liquid and sends it to the coils.

Coils

Coils, which are usually found as part of the outside unit, cool the air as it passes through with the help of the refrigerant.

Blower

Warm air is drawn into the main section of the unit by the blower. The more efficiently this air flows through your system, the more durable it will be.

Air Conditioning Maintenance

Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems use 39% of the energy in commercial buildings in the United States. 

As a result, practically any business or agency can save money by better controlling HVAC operations and increasing the efficiency of the equipment it utilizes.

Smart facility managers spend less on replacements and frequent component changes and more on preventative maintenance to extend the life of their existing equipment.

In small to large commercial facilities, air conditioning is utilized to cool, heat, and dehumidify the air.

Heating & Furnace Maintenance

The safe and efficient operation of your heating system is dependent on routine maintenance.

To conduct the maintenance procedures, you should call a local HVAC professional. 

These inspections and modifications necessitate technical knowledge and understanding of how heating systems work. 

Follow this comprehensive check-up list to ensure the safety and efficiency of your heating system:

Check for carbon monoxide leaks

Your HVAC technicians should inspect the system for any carbon monoxide leaks or other potentially hazardous issues. They can inform you what has to be done if leaks are discovered.

Check the heat exchanger

Carbon monoxide leaks from cracked or damaged heat exchangers can be exceedingly harmful. During business furnace maintenance, they must be inspected for damage.

Clean combustion chamber

In fuel-fired furnaces, soot and combustion byproducts can build up in the combustion chamber, which is where the fuel is burned to generate heat. Cleaning this chamber enhances efficiency while also lowering the risk of fire.

Inspect and tighten wiring and electrical connections

For optimum furnace operation, wiring must be free of damage and electrical connections must be tight and clean.

What If I Have Electrical Or Mechanical Problems?

While some HVAC issues can be resolved by just cleaning coils and filters, the most common problems consist of electrical and/or mechanical faults.

They will escalate into far more serious difficulties if not addressed promptly. The majority of these issues can be avoided by scheduling frequent preventative maintenance services. 

It’s a good idea to have your system examined regularly to avoid outages during bad weather.

Tips For Great Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality (IAQ) should be one of your top priorities in your commercial areas because it has a direct impact on the health and well-being of your employees and tenants. 

Poor IAQ can increase the risk of a variety of health issues, including respiratory problems and infections. It can even put your mental health in jeopardy.

If you’re not sure where to start, read the following list of essentials when it comes to improving air quality:

Maintain a clean environment

Mold, dust, allergies, dander, and toxins can spread through the air in an instant. 

Consider utilizing environmentally friendly cleaning products that don’t emit harmful chemicals into the air and talk to a top cleaning company to get rid of any risks, in even the most remote corners.

Replace your HVAC filters regularly

Cleaning HVAC systems should be done regularly, to prevent dust and other air pollutants from cycling back into your interior air. 

Filters that become clogged can disrupt airflow and accelerate the accumulation of pollutants indoors.

Conduct regular air tests

Indoor air testing will give you the necessary information and insights to help you focus on your IAQ improvement plan. 

Humidity levels, circulation, ventilation, mold growth, scents, and water damage are all checked during air quality assessments. Include on the list a carbon monoxide detector as it can save lives in the event of a leak.

How Frequently Should You Get Maintenance For Your HVAC System?

General maintenance goes a long way towards increasing the quality of your indoor experience.

It is recommended to have frequent examinations four times a year, but in the end, the number of inspections scheduled is determined by the system’s size, age, and usage.

Furnace Components

To begin understanding how a furnace works, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of the furnace’s components. 

Every furnace includes a heat exchanger, burner, ductwork, plenum, blower, and exhaust pipe. 

In addition, most of the commercial furnaces have an air conditioning unit that provides cooling during the summer.

The burner is where the heating process starts. It fires up when the temperature drops low enough to start the furnace. Your thermostat, for example, is in charge of the burner. Afterward, the gas is directed to the heat exchanger. 

The heat exchanger then takes in air and converts the gas and air into heat, which then travels through your ductwork. 

Following, the combustion occurs, when the fuel and air combine and ignite, producing heat. 

Finally, the heat transfers into the air distribution system and reaches the targeted rooms.

What Is An HVAC Tune-Up?

Because your system is hidden behind walls and floors, it’s easy to overlook it.

 A system that has been neglected is more likely to run inefficiently, malfunction more frequently, and reach the end of its life cycle sooner.

The goal of an HVAC tune-up is to keep your furnace and air conditioner in good working order throughout the season.

What Is Included In An HVAC Tune-Up?

Inspection, cleaning, and service are the three fundamental elements of a normal HVAC tune-up. 

Repairs may or may not be included in the service, depending on whether or not problems are discovered during the inspection phase.

How does it work?

Inspection of your HVAC system

The HVAC specialist will most likely start by inspecting your equipment. You can have everything serviced in one visit, or have the AC serviced one time of the year and the furnace serviced another. 

An inspection will be performed regardless of when it is completed. The technician will examine for indicators of wear and tear at this point.

In the case of an air conditioner, he will inspect the drain pans, check refrigerant levels, and look at other components. 

In the case of a furnace, he will inspect the compressor, motor, and other parts to ensure that they are in good working order.

Cleaning

Whether the tune-up is for the air conditioner, furnace, or both, cleaning should be included.

 Even if you change your air filter regularly, the technician will need to clean your system to keep it in good working order.

HVAC Service

This is where you really get your money’s worth. 

If there are any issues with your air conditioning or heating system, the expert will fix them right away. 

This may entail replacing worn-out parts to prevent major damage in the future. If your system’s refrigerant levels are low, the technician will check for leaks and replenish them.

How HVAC Systems Work

To summarize all the information above, the HVAC structure contains heating and cooling sources, as well as the ductwork that distributes the warm or cold air, and a control unit.

Heating sources generally include a furnace.

There are gas – the most common ones, oil, and electric furnaces. 

The most prevalent cooling source is air conditioning (AC), which includes both outdoor and indoor AC units.

Chemical refrigerants are used in air conditioning to swiftly convert from gas to liquid and back. There is a heat transfer process at work here as well.

So You Want A New HVAC System

You know it’s time to replace your aging HVAC system if you observe any of these signs:

1. Longer Running Time

You’ll find that your system starts up more frequently as it becomes older and has to be replaced. It may also be left on for longer to achieve the desired temperature.

If your system continues to run for many extended periods of time following repairs, it’s time to replace it.

2. Numerous Repairs

While the cost of a whole new system may appear high at first, the cost of ongoing maintenance when one of these components fails is not worth it in the long run. 

That money would be better spent on a whole new system. And once you make your purchase, make sure to hire an expert to assist you in maintaining it.

3. Disturbing Sounds

It’s natural for HVAC systems to get noisier as they get older.

A loose part or a portion that has to be changed could be the source of some of the noises. 

Other issues could be caused by fans, motors, and other moving parts. However, if the strange sounds persist after repair, it’s probably time to replace your system.

4. You Don’t Ensure Regular Maintenance

Maintenance allows you to detect problems early on before they become more serious. It extends the life of your system by keeping it in top working shape. 

It’s more likely that if you don’t do routine maintenance, the condition will quickly progress to the point of no return.

If that’s the case, here’s what you should know about buying a new HVAC system.

One of the first things you should look into is your new HVAC system’s heating and cooling capabilities. 

Inquire with HVAC professionals about the system’s assessments and whether it meets the minimum criteria and is adequately proportioned.

You should also:

  • Calculate the cost of installing a new HVAC system
  • Choose whether to replace the entire HVAC system or to repair it
  • Calculate the needed size of your HVAC System

Before you install a new HVAC system, keep in mind that you’ll need to repair it regularly to keep your manufacturer’s warranty valid.

Calling a professional HVAC company to find out how much a new heating and/or cooling system would cost is the best method to find out.

They’ll be able to send a technician to your property to give you an estimate. Get quotes and ask about installation rules, certifications, warranties, and insurance.

Background Noise

A well-maintained HVAC system will often run silently in the background, buzzing to itself. 

Noises from your outdoor unit that are unusual or unexpected are a warning that it needs mechanical or electrical maintenance or repair.

If Your Unit Is Making Tons Of Noise

Some specific noises could indicate a potentially dangerous situation that requires urgent care.

If you hear any of the following noises coming from your HVAC, you should take action right away:

Squealing

This could indicate a faulty belt. Replacing it is a simple and inexpensive task. 

Make sure you finish it before the belt completely breaks, otherwise it will prohibit the blower from turning.

Banging or Rattling Noises

If your unit is rattling, it’s likely because the bolts on the metal cage that surrounds it aren’t tight enough, or one of the components of your blower assembly or motor has come loose.

At this point, turn off your unit, and talk to a specialist.

Clicking Noises

Clicking noises are a natural feature of the operation of your machine when it is turned on and off. 

A loud clicking, on the other hand, should be taken seriously, especially if it originates from inside the cabinet. This is generally a sign that your capacitor is nearing the end of its useful life.

Humming

If your air conditioner won’t switch on and the clicking sound has transformed into a hum, your capacitor has likely failed. In this scenario, turn off the unit right away to avoid further damage.

Sound of Metal on Metal

The blades of the fan may be hindered by a foreign object such as ice or loose wiring if you hear a metal scraping noise. 

Contact with a foreign object repeatedly while the fan is running can harm the blades as well as the motor.

Getting Ahead Of Problems with HVAC System Maintenance Tips

Some building owners and managers may wonder why they should be concerned about repairs when their systems are working properly. 

This is reactive maintenance thinking, and it is a wasteful approach to managing your resources.

Waiting until there are obvious problems can cost you extra in emergency repair services, and the potential for long downtime can interrupt your business operations. 

Commercial preventative maintenance aims to get ahead of these issues before they cause a complete shutdown.

Keep in mind, regular HVAC maintenance is estimated to lower the risk of expensive breakdowns by up to 95%.

What Causes Heating And Cooling Problems?

The problems are many, as the unit is under constant influence from weather factors, temperatures, technical components, dust, and debris.

It’s easy to see how fallen leaves, for example, can affect your HVAC system. 

Leaves piling up at the bottom of the unit can stop proper airflow from happening. Blockages can also reduce the efficiency of your HVAC system, causing it to need more energy to maintain the same level of performance. 

Moisture is another issue. Drain lines can become clogged over time as dirt and dust accumulate, and they can even become a breeding ground for algae and mildew.

Does HVAC Maintenance Help You Save Money?

Over the life of the system, investing a little amount of money in preventive HVAC maintenance will save you a lot on utility expenses and HVAC repairs. 

Maintaining your HVAC units regularly can also help it last longer before it needs to be replaced.

Here’s how:

Energy Efficiency Improvements

A well-maintained HVAC system operates more efficiently than one that has been neglected.

The system, for example, needs to work harder to push air through the vents when the air filter becomes clogged with dust and debris.

HVAC Repairs Will Be Fewer

It takes a toll on the HVAC system’s components when it needs to work extra hard to keep you comfortable. Parts wear out more quickly, connections loosen, and dirt builds up. 

Rather than ignoring the issue, keep up with preventative maintenance to avoid the most common HVAC problems.

Extended Equipment Lifespan

Maintaining your HVAC unit is quite similar to maintaining your automobile. Oil changes, belt replacements, and filter changes should all be done regularly to extend the life of your vehicle. 

The same concept applies to air conditioning and heating systems. Dirty coils and clogged moving parts force equipment to work significantly harder to function properly, resulting in burnout and failure.

Air Quality Improvements

Polluted interior air quality can be caused by dirty coils and parts in your air conditioning system, generating concerns about pollen, fungal, and bacteria growth. 

Asthma episodes, eye, nose, and throat inflammation, as well as flu-like diseases, can all be caused by this.

Good quality air will lead to happy tenants and a safe building. Your business image will improve, your worker’s productivity will increase and your clients will feel protected.

HVAC Maintenance Tips

Here are some HVAC maintenance checklist suggestions that you can use this year, and every year, to ensure that your commercial system is in good working condition:

  • Make an appointment with a professional for routine maintenance
  • Replace air filters as necessary
  • Make sure the area around the outdoor unit is clear and remove any debris
  • Keep indoor and outdoor units clean
  • The condensate drain should be checked and cleared
  • Examine the ductwork regularly

Inspections For HVAC System

During an HVAC inspection, the expert will make sure that all of the parts of your HVAC system are clean and in good working order to guarantee that there are no safety issues. 

Any built-in safety features will also be examined to ensure that they are functioning properly. 

Your HVAC professional will also inspect any vents to ensure that they are clean, undamaged, and in top shape. The expert will notify you if any cleaning or repairs are required. 

How Much Does HVAC Maintenance Cost?

Your final payment will be determined by your maintenance agreement, your system, and circumstances relating to both. 

Many cleaning businesses, for example, provide annual cooling and heating service contracts as well as discounts when you call them for any needed repairs. 

Contracts are strongly advised because you will receive greater warranty coverage than if you merely scheduled one visit.

Advice For HVAC Maintenance

The most important advice you can take regarding HVAC maintenance is to partner with a professional company and benefit from regular inspections, system overview, improved efficiency tips, and a trustable partner to help you create the best environment for your tenants.

In the end, preventative HVAC maintenance is better for you, your employees, and your company. 

The benefits of preventative maintenance are an essential precaution to safeguard your company.

Servi-Tek is a professional cleaning company specializing in HVAC maintenance and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Improvement, to provide you with a healthy and secure environment. 

To learn more about our services, call us today at (866) 454-6185 or use our online form to discover what we can do for you.

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