I am here again this month to provide you some tips that can be immediately implemented in your facility to improve energy efficiency, prolong equipment life, improve occupant comfort, and/or save you some money!
I hope you find these tips useful – and I would love to hear from you either way! Thanks for reading!
The changing temperature and humidity outside can wreak havoc on your mechanical systems. Here are a few quick things to be in the habit of checking each spring: a little preventative maintenance now will save you energy for the entire summer!
Check calibration of global temperature and outdoor humidity sensors. Problems that could arise if either (or both!) of these are off by even a small margin (say a few percent in the humidity sensors) include:
Damage to chiller: if it is started when the outside temperature is too cold (the primary concern here is starving the compressor of oil).
Trouble cooling the building if the chiller is not turning on soon enough when the temperature increases.
Sub-optimal functioning of enthalpy-based economizer function in AHUs. (Actually, double checking your sequences in the AHUs to be sure that humidity is accounted for in economizing isn’t a bad idea either! You don’t necessarily want to bring in a large amount of cool outside air for cooling if it is damp or rainy day!)
Check filters and coils in AHUs (refer to previous post here). See our previous post for details. In summary: dirty filters or coils cause efficiency to tank.
Check and clean airflow measuring stations. If these are dirty, they will likely not be reading properly. This will almost always result in a reading that is lower than reality causing the system in bring in more outdoor air. Conditioning that extra air will drive up your utility bill! (Actually, it wouldn’t hurt to double check that these are being calibrated as often as the manufacturer recommends. You also don’t want your airflow to read lower than reality and have occupants complaining about a stuffy building!)
Check fan belts and grease bearings. Cold temperatures are hard on belts, so spring is a good time to look them over. Besides just looking at the belt, check that the fan itself is actually turning/air is moving when the motor is on as belt or bearing issues can cause this to NOT be the case!
Preventative spring maintenance on air-cooled condensing units or dry cooler/fluid cooler. The main things you are looking for here are to get the thing clean and make sure the fins and coils are undamaged.
In cleaning the unit, you want to not only remove the leaves/dirt/dust/garbage that you see on the outside; you want to have a careful look inside too: you will find all the same material – and maybe some additional material from a critter! – on the inside. You will make large gains in efficiency by removing the dirt and dust from these units.
Damage to the fins and/or coil will greatly reduce the efficiency of the unit. Over the winter (especially this one!) snow piling up can bend fins – it pays to check and fix them now to reap the efficiency gains from the start the season (plus working on the roof on a lovely day in April might be preferable to a scorching day in July!). On a related note, on those units with fins that can be potentially damaged by hail: think on adding hail guards, they will pay for themselves after one hail storm.
To summarize, we highly recommend that you add a careful check of all these to the spring routine in your facility:
Global temp and humidity sensors.
Filters and coils.
Airflow measuring stations.
Fan belts and bearings.
Preventative maintenance on condensing units.
What else are you sure to do every spring to keep your facility running well? We would love to hear about in the comments!