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Why Commercial Air Conditioning Should Have A Regular Maintenance Plan
Why Commercial Air Conditioning Should Have A Regular Maintenance Plan

Air conditioning has become a huge part of our lives whether we know it or not. Most offices have them so that members of staff can enjoy a regulated working environment without having to shiver or overheat. This often makes the office a nice place to work in and helps staff to stay productive throughout the day, regardless of what is going on with the weather. Commercial air conditioning is something that we often take for granted because we barely realize that it’s there. The only time that we notice it is when it breaks down or it doesn’t function as efficiently as we want it to. Why is it important to regularly maintain an HVAC unit? When an AC unit isn’t looked after in the right way, there can be a number of things that can either go wrong Air conditioning maintenance is something that so many people overlook. This can be for a whole host of reasons, including whether it’s that they are unaware that it needs regular maintenance or they think it’s too costly to take on. These are often the most common reasons that air conditioning units aren’t looked after properly. When an air conditioner unit isn’t looked after in the right way, there can be a number of things that can either go wrong and disable air conditioning or just hinder its ability to do its job. Temperatures With a well looked after, fully functioning commercial air conditioner, you’ll find that the temperatures are very accurate and work as intended. This means that everything within your unit is in top condition and working well. For example, on a hot day, when you set your thermostat to a low temperature, you’ll get exactly that.  Over time you may find that your air conditioning starts to struggle a little. This can be in a few different forms. You may detect that it takes a lot longer for your air conditioning to get up or down to the right temperature. This can be for a whole host of reasons and so keeping it regularly maintained will help to reduce this risk. Cost-effective As mentioned, a poorly maintained air conditioning unit will likely mean that it takes longer to get to the right temperatures or it may not be efficient enough to even reach the temperature you’re after. With that in mind, it can start to cost a lot more to run your HVAC system in this state. Due to the fact that it might take longer to reach your preferred temperature, you could end up paying more as time goes on. If you don’t rectify this problem, you may end up with an air conditioning unit that no longer works enough to be worth running. This will have adverse effects on the working environment and your members of staff. Safety of staff Depending on where you are in the world, heatstroke is also a very dangerous problem One of the biggest concerns for a business owner, the HR department and the individuals themselves, is that the office needs to be suitable to work in. From a health and safety standpoint, employees need to be safe and protected. Often air conditioning maintenance falls under this and is a necessity. Depending on where you are in the world, heatstroke is also a very dangerous problem. Having an inefficient air conditioning unit that can’t keep up with the rising temperatures could potentially put your employees at risk! The same also goes for those in more densely populated cities like London, New York City and even France. The air quality in and around these cities can be awful and so having air conditioning to clean and filter the air before it arrives in your office can make a big difference. Preventative maintenance Preventative maintenance is possibly one of the most important parts of owning any sort of machinery. Whether we’re talking about a car or air conditioning, preventative maintenance is a must. Preventative maintenance is just the act of regular maintenance throughout the lifetime of a product. It often involves changing of parts or fluids, even if they don’t need it in that instant. For example, if you take your car for a service and the engine oil is still sort of okay but will need replacing in 2 months’ time, would you just leave it or get it changed there and then? This type of preventative maintenance is designed to make sure that everything is in top condition and works perfectly all of the time. The biggest problem we face is that people think preventative maintenance isn’t necessary and while, yes your AC system will run without it, it’s likely to cost you so much more in the long run and could end up upsetting your staff too with a drop in temperatures. Employee satisfaction Commercial air conditioning is still a huge part of employee satisfaction Although at the time of writing this, many people are working from home, commercial air conditioning is still a huge part of employee satisfaction. Having an operating office, warehouse, school or indeed home, with air conditioning can help to keep people happy throughout the year. As a business owner, HR or general manager, it’s part of your job to keep employees happy and working in an optimal environment. Without this, employees may start to get fed up with attending an office that’s way too hot to work in. Importance of a regular maintenance plan A regular maintenance plan is going to help you keep your air conditioning system in the best state possible. You‘ll be able to detect faults and malfunctions before they have a direct impact on your commercial air conditioning system and prevent any further damage. Through the utilization of a proper plan, you should find that your system has a longer lifespan than those that don’t and should work more efficiently saving you time, money and the hassle of a broken system. Keeping your staff members happy is also a must and so dedicating some of your budget to air conditioning maintenance might just help you to keep morale and employee satisfaction on the right level.

Green Buildings Or Healthy Occupants? You Don’t Have To Choose Anymore!
Green Buildings Or Healthy Occupants? You Don’t Have To Choose Anymore!

HVAC systems have never received more widespread attention and media coverage than they have this year. As researchers determined that air transmission was a major factor in the spread of COVID-19, HVAC systems quickly became an area of intense discussion. Much of the news coverage from outlets like the New York Times, NPR, CNBC, or USA Today focused on air filtration. HEPA and MERV have become acronyms that people recognize, and UV Light and Plasma Ionization air purifiers have almost become dinner table topics. The need for discussion and debate about these topics is evident. As we look to resume some resemblance of normal life we need to feel safe sharing spaces with other people. Commercial HVAC Systems At the forefront of all of these discussions regarding air purification, is the massively flawed assumption that we must recirculate a large amount of the air from space to save energy. Most commercial HVAC systems only utilize 20% fresh air. That means that 80% of the air you are breathing in a public space has been on this ride before. The underlying principle here, from a thermodynamic perspective, is sound. I just spent a lot of energy (and $) conditioning this air for human comfort and now you want me to just throw it away?! In the name of all things public health, yes, throw it away! Energy Consumption It takes a large amount of energy to cool, dehumidify, and/or heat air so we humans can enjoy our time indoors in comfort Now before you draft your eloquently worded hate mail, let me take a minute to explain why we think you can just throw away perfectly conditioned air and still maintain a high level of energy consciousness. It’s true that it takes a large amount of energy to cool, dehumidify, and/or heat air so we humans can enjoy our time indoors in comfort. However, it is possible to exhaust ALL of the contaminated air from an occupied space and still conserve a large portion of the energy in that air. This can be done by passing the outside air (fresh air) and the exhaust air through separate heat exchangers where the energy can be transferred without the two air streams physically making contact. From a hygiene perspective, this process is ideal. Hospitals and industrial plants have been using one form or another of this technique for decades. The challenge for wider, commercial, adoption has been packaging restrictions of these systems and in a lot of cases the energy consumption of your supposedly energy-saving equipment. Energy Recovery Technology Cue ACT’s award-winning energy recovery technology, the Pump-Assisted Split Loop Energy Recovery Heat Exchanger. This product recently won the AHR Expo 2021 Innovation Award in the highly competitive Green Building category. The magic of the technology relies on the efficiency of the boiling and condensation process. When harnessed properly, one can exchange huge amounts of energy between two air streams just by circulating a particular fluid from one system to the next. A major benefit of allowing the fluid to boil and condense around the loop is that it allows the system to operate passively, using just the forces of good old fashion gravity. As a fluid boil, a portion of the liquid is converted into vapor which naturally wants to rise. Once that vapor gives off its energy it condenses back into a liquid that naturally wants to fall. If you can provide a source of energy input for boiling and a source of energy removal for condensing you can create a naturally circulating loop that requires absolutely zero electrical energy to operate. Two Separated Air Streams Transferring energy between two separated air streams with the least amount of total energy consumption and no cross-contamination In commercial HVAC systems, the warmer air stream can be the source of energy input and the cooler air stream can be the source of energy removal. As the seasons change, the air that is exhausted from a space flips from being warmer than the outside air (in the winter for instance) to be the colder air stream (in the summer). This means that at some point during the year you lose your gravitational advantage so for the other half of the year when you need to transfer energy in the opposite direction of gravity, ACT’s system uses a fractional horsepower pump (hence the pump-assisted part). The end result is a method of transferring large amounts of energy between two separated air streams with the least amount of total energy consumption, and with no cross-contamination. And because the fluid is circulated between the two air streams (either by gravity or by way of a small pump) this technology is highly geometrically flexible and customizable. With this product, HVAC systems can take in 100% fresh, outside air and throw it all away without having to worry about being wasteful. Improving HVAC Systems Most of the focus and efforts around improving HVAC systems have so far been centered too much on how we make old technology deal with new problems. These kinds of approaches are band-aids, at best, and often result is short-sighted solutions that never really advance the industry as a whole. ACT’s new product helps solve the problems of the new normal while moving the HVAC industry closer to that breath of fresh air we could all use right now.

What’s In Store For HVAC?
What’s In Store For HVAC?

The past six months have been busy for those in HVAC as offices are updated and made safe for people to return. In addition to the various standard checks that need to be carried out, more care is being taken in relation to air movement and filtration to prevent the spread of disease. There is evidence that at least some of the COVID-19 virus can remain suspended in the air and infectious for up to 3 hours. While this is not the main form of transmission, it is vitally important, especially as we are seeing a second increase in infections, that all measures are taken to prevent the spread of the disease. Sick building syndrome In addition to the fundamental elements of HVAC in public buildings, the sector should be looking to the future of technological use; whether COVID-19 is completely wiped out or lingers in the population, we may be at risk of more new diseases in the future. Although maintenance is one of the least visible of building services, it has long played an important role in ensuring the health of buildings. Decades ago, the concept of sick building syndrome was first introduced, showing quite how important our environment is to health. Now, we are being reminded of this on a daily basis in ways that have never been under such scrutiny. We are suddenly hyperaware of what we have touched and who else is breathing our air. In many ways, this new awareness of the unseen is a boon for the sector that has so long been behind-the-scenes, but it also puts it to the test. Potentially stagnant pockets There are numerous recommendations from experts on how to increase safety Governmental guidelines have not specifically required that ventilation and air conditioning be increased in the workplace. Yet, there are numerous recommendations from experts on how to increase safety. At the low-tech end of the spectrum, the use of ceiling and table fans to increase movement in potentially stagnant pockets of air has been suggested. At the other end, technologies that have long been growing in popularity, such as remote monitoring, will really come into their own in the coming months. A particular challenge for the industry as workers return to the office under social distancing guidelines will be accessing certain areas for maintenance. For as long as the virus remains in the population, risk assessments for work will be more complex and non-essential jobs will likely be put on hold where possible. Optical remote sensors Intelligent technology and monitoring systems are already driving the market and will play a role in minimizing contact with others when visiting a site. There is already a great range of tools available: wired sensors, wireless sensors, and optical remote sensors. These allow organizations to monitor vibration, temperature, acoustics, and the power of numerous assets remotely and in real-time. Any issues can be addressed as soon as they arise, minimizing the cost and time that an engineer may need to be in the building. Installing these technologies while buildings are still unoccupied or only partially occupied will also reduce the risk of exposure of engineers to the virus and will improve the efficiency and prolong the life of important assets. Whether a second lockdown takes place or not, these tools will protect building services. Motion-Activated air conditioning Other sensor-based features such as motion-activated air conditioning also have great potential Other sensor-based features such as motion-activated air conditioning also have great potential. These can manage the new hygiene anxiety which pervades public places at the moment. In the longer term, they can be a means of building sustainability practices into the workplace, using power only when needed. Internet of Things (IoT) features such as occupancy sensors have long been growing in popularity to create buildings which are more energy-efficient and promote productivity. Many of these features are demonstrating added value during the pandemic. Occupancy sensors, for example, can be used to ensure that buildings do not exceed safe numbers for social distancing. HVAC systems will be integrated ever further into the IoT approach. Some features of virus reduction, however, have posed a challenge for systems. Air conditioning systems Air conditioning systems, for example, can best reduce the risk of viral transmission through increasing the amount of air which is brought in from the outside into the systems. This will reduce the amount of recycled air but will also increase the temperature fluctuations within the buildings. Other recommendations have included reviewing ventilation strategies, increasing ventilation operating times, deep cleaning filters, and replacing filters more often. Cutting corners on anything which reduces the risk of virus spread will only be a greater loss to the client All of these can potentially see an increase in time and cost required by the client at a time where many companies have been stretched financially. Cutting corners on anything which reduces the risk of virus spread will only be a greater loss to the client in the long run if their employees lose time to illness but it still may be a temptation. Strong working partnership FM providers must work closely with clients to understand their individual fears and needs in such turbulent times. For Anabas, we believe demonstrating expertise and experience is a means of reassuring organizations that they are in safe hands. The future of the pandemic is still unpredictable. While its elimination is hopeful, it is still well worth the investment for many organizations to install the tools which minimize the risk of infection of COVID-19 - or any future infections. Clients are looking for certainty in an uncertain world and data-driven insights and real-time monitoring are ideal ways to provide this. However, the reassurance that comes with a strong working partnership will also be more important than ever. Communicating developments and what they mean for the client, as well as assuring them their priorities are understood can set a provider apart.

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