Data Loggers, Temperature Guns Make Building Troubleshooting Easier
The good news is that managers and their staffs now have access to great tools that are fairly simple to operate that can help sort it all out:
Temperature and humidity data loggers. This is one of my favorite tools. These relatively small battery-powered devices can be tucked into the most obscure areas and can log thousands of data points. Depending on the task's requirements, technicians can set them to take a data point every second, every five minutes, or even every hour. These simple, easy-to-use devices provide flexibility and versatility, and they are relatively inexpensive. The least expensive devices have USB connections for downloading data. Newer wireless and web-accessible models offer automatic access and the ability to connect devices accessible through one access point.
Once, we had a dispute over whether or not a thermostat actually worked. A glove-wearing, perpetually cold person was convinced the system was set to freeze people out of the building, while the always-hot person insisted there was no way anyone could possibly stand the space being any warmer. A data logger settled it all by showing the thermostat, in fact, did work correctly and controlled the space as programmed. The issue was deemed personal. Gloves continued to be worn.
In another case, a building space experienced unusual, daily temperature fluctuations. Many theories arose, but no resolutions. While the building controls system could provide a great deal of temperature data, it was not the right information. Enter the data loggers. Technicians place data loggers throughout the system and in the space. After several days of monitoring, technicians downloaded the data and trended it. It became clear that the system had several issues, some of which related to the system and some to the controls. With the issues identified, the manager was able to implement the most effective solutions.
Surface-temperature data loggers. These tools are a variation of temperature and humidity loggers. They also are small, battery-powered, and capable of logging thousands of data points.
In a recent case, an occupant complained that the floor in an area would get warm and even hot. But the condition only presented itself at certain times of the day and on certain occasions. The team investigated the ceiling space, the below-floor space, the HVAC system, and the plumbing system. They could not find an obvious explanation for the hot floor. Using surface temperature data loggers, technicians placed data loggers throughout the space. They measured the floor temperature and trended it in various locations over several days. Unfortunately, the hot spot did not make an appearance, and the observations continue.
Laser temperature gun. Another favorite, the laser temperature gun is a handheld device that measures surface temperatures. Want to know if cool air is really coming out of the ceiling diffuser 8 feet above your head? Without climbing on a ladder, you can find out. Just point the laser and read the temperature on the unit's screen.
This tool is particularly useful for quick troubleshooting. In one facility, the facilities team noticed that every time they had a large meeting in their newly completed conference room, their cooling system just could not keep up. People complained that the room was hot.