In what can only be described as a very turbulent year, many businesses have had to shut their doors and have all but forgotten about the general upkeep of their sites. With priorities shifted to keeping companies afloat and staff employed, maintenance and servicing has taken a backseat, and many systems will be deteriorating unnoticed.

It goes without saying that one of the first tasks that employers will have to tackle when returning to work is a deep clean. As we are still in the throes of a pandemic, a clean and disinfected workplace is the number one priority that needs to be ensured, before any staff can be welcomed back to work. This should be closely followed by maintenance of the site’s equipment.

Importance of regular HVAC maintenance

Regular HVAC maintenance is extremely important as it keeps systems performing efficiently and effectively

Regular HVAC maintenance is extremely important as it keeps systems performing efficiently and effectively. The nature of HVAC maintenance does change depending on the time of year, and with some sites being shut for months and through different seasons, managers will need to review their current equipment to ensure it is compliant and working correctly as soon as possible as signs of normality start returning and facilities begin to reopen.

While warehouses and factories may have still been operating in some capacity over the last 12 months, many office buildings have seen little to no employees for more than a year in some cases, therefore, risking deterioration and even damage to their systems going unnoticed and untreated. But with so many pieces of equipment at each site, it is often hard to know where to start and what to prioritize.

Following HVAC manufacturer’s recommendations

In order for businesses to keep functioning as best as they can and to avoid any more disruption, those in charge of maintenance and servicing need to be educated on how the conditions of a system affects the type of work it needs. Manufacturer’s recommendations should also be taken into account.

To help define what these are and how to approach them, mechanical and electrical engineers recommend:

  • The coils and pipes in HVAC equipment that are responsible for heat transfer are checked regularly, because if the equipment gets dirty, it won’t transfer heat and energy as well.
  • Checking controls annually to ensure that the HVAC system is running properly, as control calibration can alter. By scheduling regular check-ups, accurate operation is maintained.
  • Maintaining equipment with fans quarterly to maximize longevity. Three key areas include monitoring the impellers, belts and bearings for any dirt, wear and tear, friction or erosion.
  • Keeping an eye on filters, as when they are clogged, it increases the pressure drop in a system, which makes fans work harder to maintain the same airflow. A quarterly clean is usually sufficient for most filters. This is also true of strainers in systems.

Optimizing HVAC and electrical equipment

With spring now upon us, businesses need to optimize their HVAC and electrical equipment for maximum efficiency

With spring now upon us, businesses need to optimize their HVAC and electrical equipment for maximum efficiency. This includes reviewing the sequence of operations for a morning warm up and cool down.

However, it’s important to remember that because of prolonged closures over the last 12 months, autumn and winter checks, and in some cases, even summer checks were not able to be carried out in 2020, so before the spring work begins, backdating the maintenance is a good place to start.

Ensuring buildings’ energy efficiency

With the help of experts, HVAC maintenance doesn’t have to be time-consuming and overwhelming, but it’s a critical part of maintaining an energy-efficient building that is both comfortable and reliable. With regular servicing and some basic knowledge of what is required, sites can maintain optimum efficiency all year round.

Noise complaints can also be an issue, if HVAC maintenance isn’t carried out regularly. Spring is a good time for businesses to perform services on their equipment, prior to the summer months starting and should be used to ensure that condenser coils and air handler filters are both clean. The dirtier the equipment, the noisier and less efficient it becomes, which is bad news for any business.

Preparing buildings for staff returning to work

When a building is returning to normal occupancy after a lengthy closure, additional checks must be considered before reopening is discussed. When a building is initially mothballed, it must be prepared for long term vacancy, but many businesses will not have had this opportunity before the national lockdown, which basically entails that these checks will not have been carried out.

After a building becomes unoccupied, it is not the case that maintenance activity should also stop

After a building becomes unoccupied, it is not the case that maintenance activity should also stop. At the very least, the frequency of existing planned maintenance will change, but in some cases, more maintenance tasks are required in order to keep the site ticking over. This includes flushing of water systems, Legionella testing and insurance inspections to keep the property functional and compliant.

Countering health and safety issues 

As the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted across the United Kingdom and many businesses are gradually reopening, it will present health and safety problems that have not been faced before and will very likely see a surge in services and maintenance being required.

With this in mind, it is vital that maintenance becomes a priority as normal service is resumed to not only ensure efficiency, but also to make sure that no employee or visitor to a site is put in danger.

Emerging from a surreal 12 months, there is no doubt that companies will still face challenges, so it is crucial that avoidable maintenance problems do not become one of them, so don’t delay in booking routine checks.  

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