As commissioning agents, we often are tasked with finding problems and then solving them. In addition to finding and solving problems for our clients, we have to do the same for ourselves. Sometimes we need to get a little creative during our day-to-day testing and come up with solutions to help us do our work.
Here are some examples of creative solutions we have come up with. Who knows, maybe one of these will give you an idea that will make things easier for you.
In the picture below we used a small hair dryer while mapping out and testing space temperature sensors. Just carry an extension cord along to reach outlets and a quick blast of hot air and the person at the building automation workstation can verify that the room we are in is mapped to the correct location on the graphics! We have also used chemical hand-warmers or even a baggie full of ice.
On one of our current projects we are noticing that the system is doing some funny things with the chilled water system. It started after a power outage from a storm where a big surge came through and actually stripped out the internal gears on the analog pressure gauges on the chilled water pumps. It then proceeded to do it again about a week later without any known power issues. With limited capacity of the building automation system to trend what was going on we did a little tailgate engineering and came up with this contraption!
Made with the finest space age materials sourced from the local hardware store we built this to allow us to monitor any pressure spikes (the red gauge is a vacuum gauge and could be used in the event we ever have to measure a negative pressure). While it won't tell us when, we can check it every day and see what the highest recorded pressure that the gauge experienced to help us try to pinpoint what is going on.
While not directly related to testing, we often have to get a little creative with our work-space when on-site functional testing. A good folding hand cart and a USB secondary monitor are life-savers!
Some other improvised tools that either we have used or heard of others using:
Cups of ice water for testing immersion probe sensors.
Smoke pens or theatrical smoke generators for testing fire alarm systems, space pressurization, smoke control systems.
Chemical hand-warmers (these work great and stay hot for hours)
While there is no replacement for the proper tool for the job, we all know that sometimes you have to improvise. Let us know in the comments below of some of your creative problem solving that has saved you in a pinch!
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