HVAC deferred maintenance is a serious problem that often goes overlooked. Building owners or managers think they are saving money. But in reality, the hidden costs of HVAC deferred maintenance compound over time.
The Domino Effect
HVAC deferred maintenance impacts building operations and occupant safety. When one area of the HVAC gets compromised other areas begin to get knocked down too. Let’s take a look at how these key areas create a chain reaction that leads to higher operating costs.
Indoor Air Quality Suffers
The main function of the HVAC system is to exchange air in a building and regulate comfort. Filters are responsible for keeping the air clean. If filters are not regularly changed they become clogged. This restricts airflow and static pressure. So, particulates then get into the unit. This happens through gaps in the filter housing or worse, holes in the cabinet.
Particulates build up on the inside components like the walls, blower motor housing, drain pan and especially the coils. When coils get dirty airflow and static pressure are again compromised. So, it is harder to regulate the temperature and humidity or comfort in the building.
This build up also gets damp and becomes a food source for bacteria and fungi. When microbes spread so do foul odors, mold spores, and allergen triggers. Some building occupants then suffer from headaches, sinus congestion and eye irritation. Or worse, allergen and asthma attacks.
Productivity Goes Down
So, HVAC deferred maintenance causes indoor air quality issues that affect occupants. Recent studies show the correlation between indoor air quality and cognitive functions. This adds up to losses in productivity and an increase in sick days. The CDC estimates a loss of $60 billion dollars a year in productivity due to poor indoor air quality.
Energy Costs Rise
It’s proven that HVAC deferred maintenance degrades energy efficiency. Consider that 3/16 inch of dirt on coils drops their efficiency by more than 20%! Dirty coils restrict airflow and static pressure, as well as change the heat transfer. This makes the blower motor run longer to achieve the desired thermal set point. The change in heat transfer also compromises set points in the chilled water system. So, many units that are not maintained create efficiency loss at the chiller too.
HVAC units under constant stress fail. Plan and simple. Motors running longer wear out belts, bearings and bushings. Clogged drain pans overflow and cause structural damage. Wiring might overheat or short circuit that result in fires. Cooling lines crack and leak. This will cause flooding with a chilled water system. In a condenser system cracked lines cause gas leaks that present a safety issue to occupants! Each of these scenarios cause major disruptions to operations. Not to mention the steady stream of work orders and costs to fix them.
What Can be Done?
Most building owners think preventative maintenance programs are expensive. But as you can see HVAC deferred maintenance really adds up in the long run. It’s like Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”! So, what are some practical things to do to keep the HVAC system optimized?
Believe it or not, many organizations don’t keep a detailed inventory of their HVAC systems. This data often varies from building to building. A good inventory provides insights into the specifications, age and history of equipment. It’s helpful for routine maintenance, as well as, planning for restoration or replacement. If you don’t have one or it’s incomplete now’s the time to make it happen.
HVAC Hygiene Assessment
This is a series of cleanliness and performance tests to report on the condition of HVAC units. An HVAC Hygiene Assessment provides visibility for prioritizing and planning maintenance. Especially when there are many air handler units in a facility or across a campus of buildings. It helps identify and prevent potential problems. This service is an important step in recovering from HVAC deferred maintenance.
PURE-Steam AHU/Coil Cleaning
Routine cleaning of HVAC units is important for good IAQ and energy efficiency. PURE-Steam uses high temperatures and low pressures to deep clean and disinfect equipment. Many case studies and white papers prove it optimizes building health and performance.
Cleaning ductwork after periods of HVAC deferred maintenance requires extra care. PURE-Duct is an IAQ focused service engineered to prevent cross contamination. It’s a thorough process that cleans every component associated with the duct system. This includes VAV reheat coils that are often ignored by other firms.
HVAC New Life Restoration
Some owners and managers think they need to replace all aging HVAC equipment. This is simply not true. The mechanical inventory and HVAC hygiene assessment provides data for restoration or replacement. HVAC New Life restoration is viable option that is around 1/10 the cost of replacement. It features PURE-Steam cleaning along with specialized a coating, pan liner and insulation. You can read more about it in this article.
The HVAC system plays an important role in building and occupant health. There are cost effective solutions that maintain HVAC cleanliness and performance. So, HVAC deferred maintenance should never be an option.
For more information on leaving HVAC deferred maintenance behind and getting started with our proactive services please call 1-800-422-7873 or email us.