How To Prepare HVAC Systems For Higher Demand
With schools back in session, what prep work and maintenance should be done on the HVAC system to prepare for more demand? Are there any specific trouble signs to look for?
Schools typically contain a myriad of systems, whereas a commercial building will typically have one or two types of HVAC systems. This is typically because capital funding of educational facilities comes in spurts, or the schools have been added onto over time. Most schools will have DX or direct expansion, electric heat, and hot water boilers. Some even still have steam boilers.
Very few of them can afford highly trained HVAC technicians or operating engineers to be on staff. Together, different ages and qualities of equipment and people who may be less experienced can create the perfect storm waiting to happen.
The best thing schools systems can do is to follow a good preventative maintenance program. They need to be sure they take care of typical maintenance regularly, including the basics like changing the filters, checking refrigerant charge, and the AHU issues we talked about in my first answer above.
They should get a good maintenance contract with a trustworthy local provider, or invest in someone inside whom they trust to keep the maintenance up to date. Waiting for things to break is absolutely the most expensive, disruptive way to manage systems.
Answers provided by Dave Callan, P.E., vice president with McGuire Engineers in Chicago.