Five tips to make HVAC maintenance more effective
When it comes to plants and facilities, HVAC systems play an important role in making sure the building stays at the right temperature and humidity levels. But, like any equipment, they can also become a major headache if something goes wrong. Preventive maintenance is key to keeping HVAC systems running effectively and efficiently.
Although many facility managers find themselves implementing reactive maintenance rather than proactive due to time and costs, a variety of tools and products can lighten the burden and make routine maintenance a quick and easy task that saves money in the long run.
Here are five tips to help ensure the success and effectiveness of your facility’s HVAC maintenance plan:
1. Make sure that you have the right products for each maintenance need. When the proper tools aren’t used to complete maintenance tasks, they end up doing more harm than good. For example, you wouldn’t use a saw to hammer in a nail, so why use a pressure washer to clean coils? Pressure washers risk damaging delicate coil fins, potentially causing the need for repairs that would cost more time and money than if you used a coil-cleaning machine, which is specifically designed to clean coils. Some tools even allow clean-in-place maintenance to enable less downtime. Facility managers want to make sure their time spent maintaining equipment is effective and productive. It’s important to invest in the right products to save time and money and reduce the risk of damage and waste.
2. Ensure employees receive proper training on the maintenance equipment. Training on how to properly conduct maintenance and clean HVAC equipment should be included in any new employee’s onboarding process. Understanding how to use maintenance equipment correctly will save a company time, since the job can be done correctly the first time. Just as important, it can reduce the risk of injuries due to operator error, thereby saving the company money as well. When purchasing new equipment, many vendors will provide on-site training as part of the purchase if it is requested.
3. Have a maintenance plan for each HVAC system. Spending a little on regular HVAC maintenance will save you a lot on repairs and life of the equipment in the long run. First, make sure your facility has a plan that includes and schedules time for HVAC maintenance at least annually, if not twice a year, between heavy-use seasons. Having a maintenance plan in place—and sticking to it—helps prevent unexpected and costly breakdowns, outages, and repairs. Also known as a preventive maintenance plan for the above reasons, cleaning and maintaining the systems also results in better energy efficiency.
4. Maintain an operating log. A neglected tool in the plant maintenance toolkit is an operating log. These logs help track information related to the system’s operation. Most commonly used for chillers, operating logs should help you monitor temperature, pressure, and fluid level. When readings outside the norm occur, maintenance or repairs may be needed. Operating logs are also a helpful way to track trends, measure improvements, and compare data year-over-year.
5. Measure efficiency gains. Measurement is an often overlooked or skipped task, because it takes extra time and determining what and how to measure may be hard to figure out if you don’t have a plan in place. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Goodway Technologies revealed that only 39% of the 255 respondents measure the efficiency gains resulting from chiller cleaning. However, HVAC systems make up some of the plant’s largest operational expenses. Measuring the gains in energy efficiency as a result of regular maintenance shows the impact of the facility managers’ work in a way that’s meaningful to upper management: cost savings.
When you make sure your facility management team has purchased and been trained to use proper equipment, uses an operating log, and performs maintenance on schedule, your plant’s HVAC systems will show positive returns.
Timothy Robb is director of marketing at Goodway Technologies, a global manufacturer of industrial maintenance solutions used by facilities and plant maintenance personnel.