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The Importance of Routine Maintenance

Unlock a treasure trove of operational savings by delving into the world of routine HVAC maintenance. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) accounts for nearly half of all building expenses, so it’s essential to recognize the financial impact a well-maintained HVAC system can have on your operational costs. Consistent upkeep on building systems results in an impressive 50% reduction in energy use for electrical systems and 10% for natural gas systems in most commercial buildings. Delve into the cost effective world of seasonal maintenance to see how an HVAC system in peak form can impact your bottom line. 

Components of General HVAC Maintenance

A comprehensive approach to HVAC maintenance requires a keen focus on the main components of your system to ensure efficient performance and achieve substantial savings. Creating a regular schedule to monitor and change air filters is fundamental, preventing airflow restrictions and unnecessary strain on the system. Cleaning coils and air ducts also prove to be crucial as dirty components compromise efficiency. Furthermore, calibration and adjustments for thermostats and controls contribute to precise temperature regulation, minimizing energy waste. Lastly, inspecting ventilation systems promote proper airflow while improving indoor air quality.

These practices collectively lead to increased energy efficiency, reduced utility costs, and an extended lifetime for your HVAC system. A well-maintained HVAC system saves your business money through peak performance and less costly repairs overtime. Moreover, improved indoor air quality creates a healthier working environment and a more comfortable workspace. Embracing routine maintenance practices also aligns with environmental and sustainability goals, fostering an energy conservation culture while contributing to lower operational costs. Below, we provide a thorough review of essential maintenance tasks and the most opportune season to implement them, enabling you to create an ideal seasonal maintenance schedule for your business. 

4 images depicting a tree throughout each season of the year.

Season-Specific Maintenance Practices

Spring cleaning

Spring HVAC maintenance focuses on preparing your air conditioning system for the impending peak cooling season. These tasks are essential for ensuring your A/C system is finely tuned and ready to handle the rising temperatures ahead. 

  • Examine, clean, and replace air filters. This is crucial for maintaining good indoor air quality, optimizing cooling system efficiency, preventing system overload during increased demand, and ensuring consistent comfort. Regular replacement contributes to the extended lifespan of your HVAC system.
  • Examine any outdoor air conditioning units and remove any leaves, trash or other debris. This measure ensures proper airflow, allowing your system to operate smoothly and preventing operational issues as cooling demand increases. 
  • Inspect refrigerant line insulation to maintain energy efficiency during the cooling season. Proper insulation prevents energy waste and contributes to consistent, cool temperatures, ensuring a comfortable environment. 
  • Schedule a professional inspection. During the spring inspection, your technician will focus on evaluating your economizer and damper to prepare for peak summer temperatures. These components are vital for your system to intake outside air efficiently. These inspections also focus on coil cleaning and insulation needs.

As you breeze through spring maintenance, these tasks set the stage for a smoothly running HVAC system as temperatures increase along with the demand for air conditioning.

Summer efficiency – Peak cooling season

As the scorching temperatures of summer approach, the demand for air conditioning skyrockets to keep your business cool and comfortable. Before the mercury soars off the charts, ensure that your HVAC system is well-prepared with peak cooling season maintenance.

  • Calibrate your thermostat for summer. Simply turning it as low as possible won’t expedite the cooling process. On average, A/C systems can cool your space between 15-20 degrees. Consider upgrading to a smart thermostat and program it to match your business’ summer operating hours for efficient cooling with limited energy waste. 
  • Examine and clean air ducts and registers to ensure unobstructed air flow. Regular cleaning contributes to improved indoor air quality and a consistent cooling throughout your business.
  • Change your ceiling fan direction. Adjusting ceiling fans to rotate counter-clockwise during the summer will circulate cool air around your space more efficiently, creating a more consistent temperature.
  • Monitor and clean the condensate drain line to ensure that the line is clear of debris,  preventing clogs and potential water damage This practice not only safeguards your system but also improves indoor humidity levels.
  • Consider window coverings or shade-bearing landscaping. Minimize heat gain through blinds, drapes, or awnings on windows with direct sun exposure. Additionally, investing in landscaping that provides shade to your building helps minimize heat gain through sun exposure.

If these five simple maintenance tasks are completed prior to the peak summer heat, your business will relax in cool comfort all summer long. 

Fall preparations

As temperatures and leaves begin to descend in early autumn, it’s time to ensure your heating system is well-prepared for the approaching heating season. Fall HVAC maintenance will not only keep your business cozy but also contribute to a cost-effective and energy-efficient winter.

  • Inspect your building envelope for air leaks. Cracks, gaps, and holes in your building’s windows, walls, roofing, or doors result in heat loss during colder months. Seal these blemishes with weatherstripping or caulking to improve heat retention, reducing strain on your system.
  • Examining, cleaning, and replacing air filters. Clean filters ensure efficient airflow, improve indoor air quality, and reduce the strain on your heating system.
  • Evaluate your building’s insulation. Insulation is key to retaining heat, reducing the workload on the heating system. Inspect insulation in walls, ceilings, and floors. Consider reinforcing or adding insulation where necessary.
  • Schedule a professional inspection. During the fall inspection, your HVAC technician will thoroughly evaluate your heating elements, ensure there are no leaks in your duct system, and inspect your furnace exhaust. This in-depth examination helps identify areas of potential heat loss in your building, ensuring optimal heating performance.

By following these fall maintenance guidelines, your business will be positioned to have an energy-efficient and comfortable heating season.

Winter conservation – Peak Warming Season

As temperatures drop in the winter, the demand for a cozy ambiance soars. Ensure a comfortable ambiance in your business by implementing the following tips into your winter HVAC maintenance routine.

  • Calibrate your thermostat for winter heating. Program your thermostat to adjust temperatures based on occupancy and business hours. Lowering the temperature during non-business hours can significantly reduce energy consumption. If you haven’t already, consider upgrading to a smart thermostat for enhanced controls and energy-saving features.
  • Consider a temporary vestibule. If your business has a high level of foot traffic, consider a temporary vestibule during the winter months. Vestibules reduce heat loss during high customer traffic while providing a comfortable transition to your business, away from the elements.
  • Evaluate the insulation on hot water pipes. This simple yet effective measure helps retain heat as hot water travels through the pipes, minimizing heat loss. Adequate insulation ensures that the warmth generated by your heating system is efficiently delivered to different areas of your business. 
  • Use zone heating techniques. This practice allows businesses to customize temperatures in specific areas, optimizing comfort and reducing energy consumption. This targeted approach enables more efficient heating by directing warmth only where it’s needed, resulting in cost savings and enhanced comfort.
  • Change your ceiling fan direction. Adjusting ceiling fans to rotate clockwise during the winter will circulate warm air by your ceiling back towards the ground, creating a more consistent temperature.

Adhering to these seasonal guidelines will result in a highly efficient HVAC system, lowering your business’ utility expenses while creating a comfortable atmosphere. 

Do-It-Yourself Maintenance Tasks

While most aspects of seasonal HVAC maintenance will take the expertise of a professional, there are several tasks any business owner can tackle with a can-do attitude. These preventative measures improve the operational efficiency of your system and alert you to any issues before they become much more expensive repairs.

Change air filters

Monitor, clean, and/or change your air filters regularly. In most circumstances, air filters should be changed monthly. Dirty, clogged filters restrict air flow, forcing your system to consume more energy. Replacing air filters takes less than five minutes but makes a remarkable difference for indoor air quality. 

Remove obstructions

Inspect your vents, registers, and outdoor air conditioning units regularly to remove trash, dirt, and other debris. Inside your business, ensure that no vents or registers are blocked with furniture or other objects. Additionally, pay special attention to outdoor units after inclement weather conditions.

Seal building leaks

Regularly assess your building’s envelope for any cracks, holes, or leaks in the structure. Seal any visible defects to reduce energy waste and improve temperature retention. Pay special attention to any areas of your business that can’t seem to maintain the same temperature as the rest of the building, indicating temperature loss. Your trusted HVAC technician or an energy auditor can help locate and fix any hidden leaks.

Monitor your equipment regularly

While you might not have expertise in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, you do have a strong sense of what feels and sounds right in your building. Regularly inspect your equipment. Create a record of any defects, abnormal sounds, or varying temperatures to share with your technician. These warning signs would indicate a larger problem is on the rise.

Create a comprehensive maintenance plan

Hire a trusted HVAC professional and create an ongoing maintenance plan. Make sure to assess the quality of your current HVAC system, discuss the frequency of inspections, what maintenance tasks can be performed by yourself, and any seasonal patterns in energy demand. Some HVAC experts even offer a discount on equipment or repairs if your business is part of an annual maintenance plan. We recommend professional inspections in spring and fall or spring, before the peak seasons begin, to ensure your system is ready for increased demand. 

When is it Time to Replace?

Even with the most diligent maintenance routine, eventually your HVAC system will meet the end of its lifespan. Below, you’ll find the telltale signs that it’s time to upgrade to a new system.

  • The heat pump or air conditioner is more than 10 years old.
  • The furnace or boiler is more than 15 years old. 
  • Your equipment needs frequent repairs.
  • Your energy bills are increasing but you haven’t changed your usage.
  • Some rooms in your business are too hot or too cold.
  • The building has humidity issues.
  • Your business has excessive dust piling up.
  • The heating or cooling system is noisy when operating.

Replacement Recommendations

Most HVAC equipment has an expected lifespan of 10-15 years, depending on the model and usage. When the time comes to replace your heating, ventilation, or air conditioning systems, there are several important factors to consider. By selecting a high efficiency model, you can save up to 50% on your heating and cooling costs. Look for Energy Star certified appliances, indicating they meet the U.S. EPA’s strict energy efficiency guidelines with a superior level of performance. Investing in Energy Star certified models provide both atmospheric comfort and energy savings. Furthermore, consider investing in a smart thermostat or an energy management system. Incorporating smart technologies enables business owners to have greater control over temperature and energy consumption. Smart features, such as zone heating or scheduled temperature setbacks, can take your energy savings even further.

Preventative Maintenance Results in Year Round Comfort

By incorporating seasonal HVAC maintenance into your business operations, you unlock a pathway to substantial cost savings and operational efficiency. Regular attention to your HVAC systems not only extends their lifespan, but also ensures optimal performance, resulting in reduced energy consumption and lower utility expenses. Embrace the opportunity to create an annual HVAC maintenance schedule and your business will enjoy a comfortable and energy-efficient environment year-round.

If you want to save even more on your utility expenses, consider contacting a commercial energy broker, like Integrity Energy. As one of the country’s largest energy brokers, our representatives can provide you with cost-effective energy plans tailored to your business’ unique needs. Start saving by requesting a free quote today!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why is regular HVAC maintenance crucial for energy efficiency and cost savings?

Regular maintenance prevents energy waste, maintains peak performance, and identifies potential issues early, reducing the need for costly repairs. These practices enhance system longevity, lowers energy bills, and contributes to more sustainable and cost-effective business operations. 

What are seasonal maintenance practices that can improve the performance of my HVAC system?

Schedule your seasonal maintenance before the peak heating or cooling seasons begin. Prepare for the heating season by cleaning and inspecting your furnace or heat pump, and check for gas leaks. Prepare for the cooling season by cleaning and inspecting your air conditioner’s evaporator and condenser coils, checking refrigerant levels, and clearing any debris from outdoor units to improve airflow.

How often should HVAC systems be professionally serviced?

HVAC systems should be professionally serviced at least once per year, but ideally twice per year – to prepare for the peak heating and cooling seasons. While smaller maintenance tasks during spring and fall can be handled with a DIY approach, professional help once or twice yearly ensures a comprehensive check.

What are the most common HVAC issues that affect performance and efficiency?

The most common HVAC issues impacting performance and efficiency include dirty or clogged filters, refrigerant leaks, thermostat malfunctions, electrical problems, and worn-out components. 

What role does smart technology play in ongoing HVAC system maintenance?

Smart technologies enhance HVAC performance by providing remote monitoring, automated diagnostics, and predictive analytics. These features allow for real-time tracking of system performance, immediate identification of issues, and proactive maintenance scheduling. Furthermore, smart thermostats optimize energy use based on occupancy or schedule, contributing to additional cost savings. 

For more answers to your energy-saving questions, please visit our general FAQ page.