Fall Is A Great Time To Focus On Energy Systems

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The “shoulder months” of spring and fall are a great time for facility managers to focus on their buildings’ energy systems to reap maximum return on investment, according to energy services company ConEdison Solutions. The company suggests several simple preventive maintenance measures that property managers can take during these seasonal transitions to maximize the efficiency of their heating and cooling systems.

“Property owners and managers should take the opportunity during seasonal shifts to perform necessary preventive maintenance of their heating and cooling systems,” said Michael Perna of ConEdison Solutions. “A simple preventive program can save a lot of time and money that might otherwise be required to repair or replace major systems at those critical times when they need to be running smoothly.”

Failure to perform basic preventive maintenance can lead to costly and disruptive emergency replacement of major components of the energy and climate management system.

“Senior management should embrace the business case for preventive maintenance,” said Perna. “In addition to facilities staff and building engineers, executives need to be aware of the long-term value a ‘shoulder month’ strategy can offer to their business’ bottom line.”

ConEdison Solutions suggests an ideal situation in which an HVAC engineer on staff can develop a checklist of items to be addressed as part of an ongoing preventive maintenance program. Additionally, a best practice, in either the fall or spring, is to have an experienced and independent HVAC engineer or technician perform a “condition assessment” of boilers, chillers, and other equipment.

Here are some suggested measures to take this fall:

  • Have an experienced and independent HVAC engineer or technician perform a “condition assessment” of chillers and other ancillary equipment;
  • Check the condition of compressors, condensers and fans;
  • For centralized cooling systems, have the factory technician inspect the chiller;
  • Perform condenser and evaporator cleanings on a regular basis;
  • Check that all chilled and condenser water motors and pumps are functioning — and perform regular maintenance on these items;
  • For water-cooled systems, check cooling tower fans; clean the tower fills and tower basin as needed;
  • Make sure condenser water chemical treatment is in place;
  • Check all major valves; and
  • For air handlers, check the condition of belts and filters and replace as needed; perform regular maintenance on motors and fans.

If the cooling system is scheduled for replacement, allow four to six months as lead time. It makes sense to diagnose a cooling project in the fall-to-winter timeframe so that it can be installed, commissioned, and ready for operation the following summer.

Conversely, it’s ideal to undertake construction to replace a boiler during the summer, when there is minimal disruption and no need for hot taps. Boiler lead time can be anywhere from two to four months after an order is placed. This type of project planning will allow sufficient time for the boiler system to be installed and ready to perform effectively in winter.