Your air conditioning (AC) unit is an important component to your business. Youwant to make sure your AC unit is functioning effectively during the hot summermonths. In order to do this, you need to understand at a high level how your systemworks. Familiarize yourself with its functionality, different parts, what runningefficiently looks like and sounds like, and any written materials that come withyour unit as reference tools to utilize when problems arise.
Communications Workplace of America, Occupational Safety and Health Department(CWA) states that more than 500,000 people employed in office environments areexposed to work-related health hazards each year. One of these common healthproblems is indoor office pollution.
It is important that those working within your maintenance department are familiarwith your electrical and mechanical systems throughout your entire facility. Theyare the “go to” personnel if something breaks down and are responsible to findingsolutions quickly to get them up and running again.
Not all businesses have a designated maintenance department and/or servicetechnicians on staff to do this, therefore, it is important to have a few designatedpeople understand the fundamentals of your system if something does go wrong.
Make sure you know what brand AC unit you have within your establishment. Some of the most common brands are Trane, Carrier and York.
It is best to recognize the manufacturer and make sure you have all the documents,warranty papers, past history of service call reports, etc. handy in the event of abreakdown. This information will help your “in house” maintenance person or the“service tech” identify the problem much quicker!
You are not expected to be an expert in understanding how AC units function, however, itis a good idea to learn just how an air conditioning system works to shoot out cool air.A typical air-conditioning system operates on the principal that when a liquid convertsto a gas it absorbs heat. Air conditioners simply use a liquid (Refrigerant) thatconverts to a gas at a very low temperature.
An AC system compresses refrigerant into a high temperature and hi pressuregas, then condenses the gas into a liquid. The liquid refrigerant passes through ametering device, such as an expansion valve or an orifice. This metering deviceseparates the “hi side and lo side” of the refrigerant system. The pressure dropbetween the hi & lo side causing the liquid to drop in temperature as it goesthrough the cooling (evaporator) coil. The room air passes through the evaporator coil,absorbing heat from the air flow going through it, therefore charging cool air backinto the room.
In a nut shell, you are not cooling the air; you are removing the heat and expelling the heat to the outside of the building.
Temperature differentials across the cooling (evaporator) coil should range between 18 to 20 degrees. This is the difference in air temperature of what is going into the cooling coil and what is being distributed after the coil into the rooms.
- There are basic mechanical components that enable the air conditioning unit to operate. The first is the compressor, the “heart” of the system, which compresses the refrigerant into a gas.
- The condenser ejects the heat from the refrigerant
- The metering device which controls the refrigerant flow and pressure drop
- The evaporator, cooling coil, which absorbs the heat and lowers the air temperature as it passes through it with the help of a blower fan
- After the saturated refrigerant passes though the cooling coil, it picks up heat and turns back to a low temperature gas to re-enter the compressor and start the cycle all over again
- Other system parts include: a thermostat, Hi & Lo pressure switches, low ambient controls, electrical relays, contactors, and fans.
- Not only does the cool air provide relief in the summer heat, but it lowers humidity levels that make you feel comfortable. Yes, your AC unit is also a de-humidifier!
Make sure you keep your manual around in close proximity of your AC unit in case you need to reference it when a problem occurs.
The best time to get your unit ready for the hot summer months is in the early spring. You don’t want to wait until the first day of summer to test your AC unit and then suffer when it won’t function properly. It is best to find the small problems now, before they lead into larger problems later!
First off, you want to make sure your system works. Just because the heater has been working all winter doesn’t mean the AC will come on as it should in the springtime. Before the summer months approach, turn the system on and see if it’s fully functional. If there is a delay to the unit starting, this may indicate that you may have a problem. If the unit does start up, begin checking the vents to see
if cool air is coming out of them. Listen for any strange sounds that might be coming from your system or vents, impending system failure.
During the year, keep your system clean. Many people never think to do this, but failing to keep filters clean and changed on a regular basis can derail all other efforts and cost you more on your electric bill. Dirty filters will also lead to poor air flow/ distribution and possibly premature failure of your AC system.
- Replace blower belts as they become stretched and old. Use “cogged” belts whenever possible
- Lubricate motors & bearings. Keep your condenser and evaporator coils clean for top efficiency
- The best way to care for your system is to be proactive in its care and maintenance. By planning ahead and addressing maintenance needs on a systematic scheduled basis, you can save significantly on repairs and virtually eliminate unplanned downtime.
There is also no substitute for professional air conditioning maintenance. Springis the best time to call your HVAC repair company to check your system and makesure everything is working correctly. If you wait until the warmest day of the year,you will often have to wait for service, as most companies will be bogged downtaking care of other clients on a first come first serve basis. This could result in a fewdays of suffering from a non-working AC unit; a position that you don’t want to be in.