Tips, Tricks, and HVAC Expertise Blog

Tips, Tricks, and HVAC Expertise Blog

How to Safely Manage Your Company's Furnace

The important myth to dispel right away in a conversation about furnace maintenance and management in a business setting is that this is not just a seasonal operating system needed when temperatures start to dip into the single digits before dropping below zero.  Instead, modern building heating systems also manage cooling in the extreme temperatures of summer as well.  Though not considered until something fails to function as expected, your company’s HVAC system may be one of the most significant operating systems to support the optimal operation of equipment and comfort for staff all year round.

When it comes to your company’s furnace, and especially considering the extremes of Alberta temperatures in the summer and winter from the sweltering highs to the bone chilling lows, it’s better to act than react. In Edmonton, emergency furnace repair may be required when time is ofthe essence, impacting both the integrity and operation of computer servers as well as the health and wellness of the employees on site.  Instead, a sound maintenance program can prove to be one of the most beneficial investments that you commit to your annual operating budget.

 

It’s About More Than Comfort

Our increased reliance on technology in business has created a new need for climate control in our commercial buildings.  Computer server rooms and sensitive telecoms equipment requires to be housed in a cool environment to prevent overheating and system breakdowns. Considering that these electronic components also produce a fair amount of heat themselves during regular operation, it can be a delicate balance to ensure they are running at their peak. Should a failure in the cooling system occur, temperature increases of as little as ten degrees can prove to be of permanent detriment to operating systems.  Improper management of these systems can result not only in costly down time, but also require the replacement of expensive specialized equipment before operations can resume.

 

Don’t Ignore Maintenance

The old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure definitely applies in this situation.  Budgeting for semi-annual maintenance each spring and fall when the workload of these systems is traditionally at their lowest can allow for the detection and resolution of problems before they require a costly repair or replacement.  In Edmonton, Furnace Solutions has been working with the business community to ensure optimal performance of their HVAC systems throughout the year with a focused effort to reduce the frequency of emergency after hours call outs and costly remedies to correct a lack of preventive servicing.

 

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for commercial heating and cooling systems in the workplace is that compared to other operational needs of the organization, your heating and cooling system isn’t seen.  The furnace itself is situated in an authorized area that is not travelled daily by the senior decision-makers in the organization. When the temperature is comfortable and the air flow throughout the worksite is appropriate, we seldom give a second thought to how that is achieved.  That is ... until something goes wrong.

 

When it’s Down to Dollars

It is important to represent to the decision-makers that control the budgets in large organizations that the smooth operation of their enterprise heating and cooling system is critical to the company’s bottom line.  While HVAC systems in some workplaces may consume approximately 40% of the company’s annual total power to maintain seamless operation, the efficiency of the system is compromised when maintenance of key processes is not performed as part of a regular schedule.  In fact, it’s estimated that an unmaintained system may increase in annual operating costs by as much as fifteen or twenty percent.  Add to that the costs of repair and the importance of scheduled maintenance takes its place on the priority list of essential systems that must remain operational under any circumstance.

 

What Can You Do In-House?

It is important to recognize that not every maintenance and service item to ensure the optimal performance of your system requires a technician to attend to the site.  As a business owner or manager, you can educate yourself with a basic familiarity of your system to identify what signs to look for in a visual inspection of your unit.  Of course, the most basic service issue is to change the filter on a regular basis to ensure the best airflow and prevent your system from having to work harder than needed.  Keeping a small stock of filters on hand and scheduling for their seasonal replacement is an easy in-house maintenance tasks that can be addressed without outside assistance.  Additionally, monitoring thermostat settings for changes can also best ensure the consistent operation of your system.  At Furnace Solutions, we can consult and advise you of the optimal range of temperatures for best performance.  If there is a variation of even a few degrees cooler in the summer or a few warmer in the winter, it can significantly impact the overall workload of your system and contribute to increased strain on your furnace.

Daily and monthly inspections of your equipment may help to reduce the number of service calls initiated annually.  If your company doesn’t have an on-site maintenance department and you need to perform some routine troubleshooting, daily tasks might include:

1. Check the floor for leaks/water accumulation around your boiler.

2. Ensure that the area around the boiler is clear of any debris or flammable material.

3. Get to know the ideal range for temperature and pressure of your system and routinely check the readings to ensure that they fall within the acceptable range.

4. Listen for any unusual noises or vibrations – which is easier to do if you are routinely checking the site and your system to know what the usual sounds and function look like.

5. If you observe any error codes displayed on your system, take note of them and consult with an industry professional to clarify whether that irregularity is cause for concern.

6. External conditions can impact the performance of your heating and cooling system, so be sure to inspect vent exits to ensure that they have not been negatively impacted/closed as a result of snow or ice accumulation on the exterior of your buildings.

If you discover situations such as leaks from the unit, frozen or otherwise compromised coils could be an indication that a professional should be called.  Of course, in some cases where a small business owner finds themselves already wearing many hats to manage the operations of the business, a full service program can also be arranged through a trusted provider to allow the business owner to be as involved or as removed from the management of his climate control system as they would like.

 

Preparing for Warmer Temperatures

When the mercury climbs to the high twenties and into the thirties, you can expect that your employees will welcome the air conditioning system to operate as designed.  Before the cooling system reaches peak demand, you can take some pro-active steps by inspecting the exhaust outlets.  Without proper venting, it is possible for a build-up of carbon monoxide so it is important to test chimneys and vents to ensure that these components are damage-free and not allowing any leaks or back drafts within your building.

The coils of your cooling system should be checked and cleaned inside and out before the warm weather arrives.  Dirty coils can impact efficiency and create a rise in cooling costs. It is also important to note the refrigerant levels within the system to know that the supply is sufficient to prevent damage to the system’s air compressor.

You want to avoid your cooling system crashing during the highest temperatures of summer, so if you're uncertain about how to check and remedy any of the maintenance items identified, you may want to consult a certified tradesperson to verify that levels and performance are within the expected range.

 

Know Your Warranty

Ensuring that you arewell-informed about your warranty and service coverage throughout the life of your heating and cooling system may be one of the most important strategies to ensure that your company’s interests are best represented.  Does your warranty cover scheduled maintenance?  What is the life expectancy of your system?  Is your warranty still applicable if you fail to keep a documented maintenance schedule?  These are critical questions to answer and may factor into the discussion when budget dollars need to be allocated for routine operations, or contingency funding to facilitate repair or replacement as your system reaches the end of its expected lifespan.

 

Where Can You Find More Information?

In Edmonton, furnace maintenance and repair is at the heart of our business at Furnace Solutions.  If you have a question about your system, want to better familiarize yourself with the components to better conduct daily and weekly checks of each element, we can help to equip you with the knowledge to do so.  We can also provide a quote for a comprehensive maintenance and service package if that best meets your needs.  Call us, visit our website or drop in to see us today for a no-commitment consultation.

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