This December we have the 12 Days of Maintenance, with each day offering insight into a different aspect of facility maintenance. After all, what better present could a facilities manager give than a cost and energy efficient building? It is the gift that keeps on giving.
Unless partridges have started singing about facility maintenance, it is time for them and their pear trees to move on over: The first day of maintenance is all about HVAC. Here are some tips and tricks when it comes to getting the most out of your heating and ventilation this winter. That includes basic maintenance tips as well as tricks to maximize the efficiency of your systems.
Check your systems
If only HVAC systems could be installed once and never given a second thought. Unfortunately, HVAC systems require a little more TLC than that. When it comes to basic HVAC maintenance, Energy Star provides a number of helpful suggestions to keep your system running as smoothly as possible.
First, you should check to make sure that system controls are starting, operating and shutting off properly. An inefficient heat pump or furnace that takes awhile to start up or shutdown could cost money and waste energy. Thermostats should also be checked to make sure that they are functioning correctly. MaintenanceEdge can help you keep track of routine building maintenance checks and any potential problems.
Mechanical and electrical components should also be checked and cared for regularly. Lubricate any moving parts, as friction in motors will demand more energy and waste electricity. Poor electrical connections can also be a drain and shorten the life of appliances and motors.
As temperatures drop, you'll need to focus more on all things heating. Extra care should be given to gas connections, gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchangers, according to Energy Star. In addition to fire hazards, poor gas connections can cause health problems. Air filters for the furnace, heat pump and air conditioner should also be cleaned and, if necessary, changed.
Seal those ducts
Leaky ducts can affect heating efficiency by at least 20 percent, according to Energy Star. In the spirit of the season, however, look at it in a positive light - you can improve heating efficiency by 20 percent if you properly seal your ducts. They pose not only an energy concern but also a health problem. Leaky ducts can cause backdrafting, when noxious gases released from a furnace are drawn back into the building.
Reduce the load
Maintenance of your HVAC systems is one thing, but if you really want a smoothly running ship, you should reduce the heating and cooling load you are putting on your facility, according to the Small Business Administration.
One of the best ways to do this is to tighten the shell of the building and maintain your insulation. A drafty building will wreak havoc on your HVAC efficiency. Make sure that windows are properly sealed and that walls are intact. It's not just cold air you need to protect against: Should you have a white Christmas, melted snow could get insulation wet and render it useless. You should check to make sure that you have no leaks and, if possible, you should check to make sure that insulation is still dry.
Insulation is not your only concern. Water can also damage drywall, short out electrical parts and rot out wood. Mold can also grow in dark places, causing a health hazard in addition to energy problems.
Finally, if you live in a particularly cold climate, you'll want to make sure the building is getting the most out of good old sunshine. Solar gain can warm up a room, while energy efficient windows can help retain heat in cold temperatures.