Commercial Q&As

Commercial Q&As

Answering your questions is Clif Gilson, Commercial Operations Manager for James River Heating & Air.

QUESTION: Why Should I Spend Money To Do a Start-up & Maintenance on My Heating Equipment?

Safety & Energy Costs

  • A heating tune-up keeps your burner working efficiently, which can cut annual energy use by as much as 10%, it also ensures that your system is operating safely, which helps prevent hazardous levels of carbon monoxide.
  • Tune-ups give our technicians a chance to catch signs of minor wear and tear before they turn into costly inconvenient repairs.
  • The regular maintenance of an annual tune-up prevents breakdowns, and it extends equipment life.

QUESTION: Why is periodic maintenance (PM) necessary?

ANSWER: PM is necessary on commercial heating equipment for all the reasons PM has been proven to be cost effective on any machinery, but is additionally important on gas & oil burning equipment to insure the safety controls are functioning correctly.

QUESTION: Why should i spend money now to renovate my worn out equipment components when it is working just fine?

By waiting until the equipment fails, you are facing an unscheduled shutdown, which would be more costly than scheduled work. Preventive maintenance is focused on preventing costly downtime.

QUESTION: Why would this unscheduled shutdown be more costly?

ANSWER: Unplanned downtime is complicated by all the lead-time involved in acquiring materials and scheduling labor to address the shutdown. Also, in today's economy, many vendor's are limiting available stock that could further extend loss of heating.

QUESTION: What is involved in periodic maintenance?

ANSWER: Here is an example checklist below for a furnace:

Furnace Checklist

  • Check operation of safety limit controls
  • Check operation of thermostat
  • Lubricate blower and motor bearings as required
  • Clean and inspect blower assembly
  • Check blower speed and operation
  • Check pressure switches and vent blower
  • Inspect burners and clean if required
  • Examine vent connector and inspect venting system
  • Check and adjust pilot light (if required)
  • Check flame rectification
  • Measure stack (flue) temperature
  • Check gas piping to furnace
  • Clean air filters and re-install - Instruct customer on filter maintenance
  • Clean equipment interior
  • Check and adjust manifold gas pressure
  • Combustion ventilation air adequate
  • Check for elevated carbon monoxide levels
  • Inspect heat exchanger
  • Check 'Delta T' between supply and return plenums
  • Clean equipment exterior
  • Leave completed checklist with customer

QUESTION: My energy costs are becoming an increasing burden. How does my HVAC system impact my utility bills? What steps can be taken to relieve this burden?

ANSWER: Critical components that have the greatest impact on a facilities overall energy use are typically, in order:

  • The climate control system (HVAC) serving the facility
  • The efficiency of the building envelope and solar impact.
  • Demanding equipment such as: industrial production equipment, computer equipment, building lighting, cooking equipment & lighting systems.

When evaluating a building, JRAC considers the following factors: HVAC System sizing: Proper consideration of unit sizing and equipment application during the design phase is critical to maximizing efficiency. Improper design can lead to excess energy usage, poor comfort control, and reduced equipment lifespan and possible property damage. Not all design issues can be cost effectively resolved after the fact.

Building envelope leakage: Commercial buildings should be reviewed for thermal efficiency during any evaluation. The output of HVAC systems can be easily wasted in a thermal-inefficiency building. Air gaps, and poor insulation can provide conduits for outdoor heat or cold to infiltrate a building. This means that the building owner must pay out more to maintain the same temperatures than in a thermally efficient building of the same size. Many commercial buildings in the U.S. are older and have had little, if any review for envelope leakage.

Waste heat: All sorts of equipment and activity can introduce waste heat into your conditioned space. Occupancy, building lighting and powered equipment all pour waste heat into a conditioned space, requiring the HVAC system to work against it.

Controls: After consideration of proper equipment application, condition of the building envelope, equipment operation and waste heat load, a facility can still be wasting a considerable amount of energy due to operational inefficiencies.

Equipment age: If your dealing with a new facility, equipment age and condition must be considered. Many energy efficient mandates have been introduced in the manufacture of new HVAC equipment. New equipment provides the same comfort, with lest energy consumption in most cases. Existing older equipment often will provide the required climate control, but at what additional energy cost?

Maintenance: One of the simplest, but often ignored opportunities for energy savings is scheduled maintenance. Regular filter changes, coil cleaning and belt changes as well as checking all components for proper adjustment and energy stealing wear & tear can easily reduce energy operating costs. This also has the added benefit of improving IAQ (indoor air quality) and reducing the chance of critical system failures that could shut down building productivity.

IAQ (Indoor Air Quality): JRAC can also address indoor air quality issues. In addition to providing a better environment for a buildings occupants, improvements such as an Atmosaire bi-polar ionization air purification solution can allow commercial buildings to operate with less outdoor air. This in effect will "tighten" the building envelope as discussed above, saving additional energy.