HVAC System Performance - Poor Conditions

AHU in poor operating conditions

The pandemic stressed the need for creating and maintaining healthy indoor conditions to keep building occupants safe. How HVAC affects IAQ, however, is something facilities managers always need to stay on top of. What follows are three ways HVAC affects IAQ as well as solutions for keeping the indoor environment safe for all.

Three Ways HVAC Affects IAQ

HVAC affects IAQ in preventable ways. Avoiding the negative consequence of poor indoor air quality is affordable and saves money over the long term. Here are three common issues of HVAC that affects IAQ in buildings. 

The Problem #1: Clogged Coils

One way HVAC affects IAQ is through clogged coils. Over time, evaporator coils become fouled. Dust, dirt, soot, and other debris clog the coil and prevent it from operating as it should. Due to the moisture collecting in the AHU, this dirt sticks to the coil fins and builds up fast. The more debris lodged in the coils, the harder the system must work to provide clean air to the building. This affects indoor air quality, of course, but it also increases energy bills. A harder working system may also require more service and maintenance calls. Therefore, a clean system not only provides healthier air to building occupants but also saves money over time.

The Solution: PURE-Steam Coil Cleaning

HVAC affects IAQ in ways that raise operating costs. Preventing expensive service calls and high energy bills requires a system like PURE-Steam HVAC coil cleaning. This method cleans not only the evaporator coils but the AHU interior as well. It disinfects the coils and AHU using steam that is heated to temperatures up to 350° F. This is enough to kill mold and bacteria. It removes allergens as well as musty odors too. Dust and debris are then pushed through the coil which improves airflow and creates a healthier indoor environment for everyone in the building. 

Problem #2: Dirty Drain Pans

Another component that becomes dirty is the AHU drain pan. The drain pan catches water as it flows down from the air handler. Over time, these pans rust and corrode, they lose their pitch and become clogged. This provides an ideal environment for bacterial growth. It creates a toxic environment and is a dangerous way HVAC affects IAQ.

The Solution: HVAC New Life Restoration

To prevent dirty drain pans from making building occupants sick, a system such as New Life Restoration cleans and disinfects the entire AHU including the drain pan. The PURE-Steam method, mentioned above, removes dirt and debris and destroys microbes and pathogens. Electrostatic DEP sprayers then disinfect the system reaching areas topical cleaners cannot.

The Problem #3: Filthy Fiberglass

The fiberglass material used to insulate air handling units also degrades over time. It becomes moist and sags causing particles to enter the air stream along with mold and bacteria. These particles attach to dust and spread throughout the building posing a health risk to all. It’s another way HVAC affects IAQ.

The Solution: HVAC New Life Restoration

The New Life Restoration system includes several methods that limit the ways HVAC affects IAQ by correcting issues of fouled fiberglass. It includes the PURE-Steam method, as well as the following methods:

  • PURE-Cell — Replaces degraded insulation with zero-porosity, fiberglass-free material that repels moisture.
  • PURE-Coat —  Covers the AHU in an anti-viral, anti-microbial siloxane coating that resists corrosion.
  • PURE-Coil — Protects the coil with a high-performance coating that is also anti-viral and anti-microbial.
  • PURE-Liner — Provides drain pan protection with a low VOC application.

In addition to these methods dealing with how HVAC affects IAQ, optional upgrades to improve performance include the replacement of dampers, synchronized cogged belts, motors, compressors, and controls.

Deferred HVAC Maintenance and Its Affect on IAQ

All of the above ways HVAC affect IAQ are preventable, however, it requires that building managers stay proactive. Deferred maintenance on mechanical systems results in expensive service calls down the road. Staffing shortages and tight budgets contribute to the problem, but preventive maintenance remains the best solution to HVAC problems. Lean staffing is also a good reason to rely on a partner like WTI – Pure Air Control to address IAQ issues. For schools, budget shortfalls can be met by obtaining federal pandemic relief funds which are still available.

To prevent issues caused by deferred maintenance, ASHRAE 62.1 section 8 provides guidance on the creation of an Operations and Maintenance Manual (O&M) for maintaining HVAC systems. It also gives suggestions for corrective action. It recommends 27 total areas for inspection and maintenance, 13 of which deal with cleanliness. Scheduling an HVAC Hygiene Assessment addresses these issues and guides improvements.

Learn More About How HVAC Affects IAQ

Building managers who understand the ways HVAC affect IAQ in their buildings offer better protection to building occupants. Beyond the health and safety of staff and customers, preventive actions reduce operating costs and strengthen the company’s bottom line. To learn more about how HVAC affects indoor air quality and what you can do about it, contact WTI – Pure Air Control.