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Preparing for an HVAC Emergency

It is 4 a.m., and the phone rings. The building’s boiler has failed, and it is 20 degrees outside. Technicians will not be able to repair the failure in a few hours. It will be days or weeks until repairs are complete or a new boiler is in service, assuming one is available for installation and delivery. Now what?

It is essential to have emergency-preparedness plans that include HVAC equipment failure. While many organizations have general emergency-preparedness plans designed, they must not forget about HVAC equipment failure! With a plan, the above situation could have been much easier to resolve and would have limited system downtime to just a few hours, minimized disruptions to building occupants and operations, and eliminated almost the entirely the risk of damage to the building and its systems.

What insight does Bruner have on this topic for you? We asked our operations manager for some tips on this situation and he suggests “Hopefully, you have a preventative maintenance program in place and as a result, already have the funds set aside for this inevitability. Your service provider should have noted the boiler’s condition on their last several maintenance summaries and during a quarterly meeting should have relayed that it was a major cause for concern that needed immediate attention. Preferably, your service provider and trusted partner should have identified the specific concerns and had contingencies in place so that this didn’t happen to begin with. Ideally, identifying redundancy or areas where it is missing should be a part of every comprehensive maintenance program so that you don’t find yourself in this situation.”

Boiler failures aren’t the only HVAC emergencies that can occur – don’t forget to address central chillers, individual-area HVAC systems, and also to be aware of temporary changes in the way occupants use a building which can create conditions where the existing HVAC system no longer can meet the needs of the application. As always, Bruner can help your organization develop a comprehensive maintenance program to avoid and prepare for an HVAC emergency.

Meet Bruner’s Service Estimator Team!

Similar to our employee spotlight that we have each month, this month we will be highlighting two of Bruner’s service estimators – Lowell McElroy and Steve Price. Both Lowell and Steve estimate equipment repairs for the service department based on site visits, call-in business, and preventative maintenance or service call recommendations from a technician’s suggestions. They have also worked with engineers to help strategize for job preparation and execution. Let’s dig a little deeper in to each of their individual fun facts!

Lowell McElroy:

Lowell is going on his 14th year here at Bruner, and his favorite part of the job is that most days are different and he gets to meet and talk to new people. In his free time, he enjoys a little R&R, travel baseball, boating, and spending time with his family and friends. When it comes to food, he “likes it hot!”. Lowell cheers for the Steelers and his favorite season is fall. Surprisingly, his favorite vacation spot is home, but he also enjoys traveling to Tennessee and on occasion the beach.

Steve Price:

Steve has been with Bruner for 4 years, and his favorite part of the job is that it has allowed him to morph into many roles. Another aspect that he enjoys are the great co-workers that he gets to work with every day. Steve is currently enrolled as a full time student as well, working towards earning a degree in psychology. While he has been in customer service positions for half of his life, he can’t wait to get into psychology because it is something that has always been a dream of his. Steve’s favorite sports team is the Ohio State Buckeyes, and his favorite day of the week is Saturday. Lucky for him, his favorite holiday is just around the corner as it is Halloween. On a final note, Steve believes trust is an important value and is sure to instill this in is daughter as he watches her grow up.

10 HVAC & Energy Efficiency Fun Facts

A little knowledge doesn’t hurt anyone! We’ve been collecting fun facts about the HVAC industry over the past few months from various credible sources, and thought collectively they would make a masterpiece. So read on and you will probably find something out you didn’t know before!

1. Factors such as rightsizing, system updating, and types of refrigerant used can significantly affect HVAC efficiency.

2. An electronic air cleaner is 40x more efficient than a standard throwaway filter in removing unwanted particles from your home.

3. A variable speed heat pump can trim energy costs by as much as 40%.

4. You can increase the efficiency of your home by up to 30% by investing in proper insulation and sealing air leaks around windows and doors.

5. In NYC, it is estimated that poorly fitted air conditioners cost buildings $130 million to $180 million a year in extra fuel consumption!

6. An oversized HVAC system increases installation costs, wastes energy, and costs more in overall operating costs than a correctly sized system.

7. 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off – so unplug and conserve!

8. The Romans were the first civilization to use any type of warm-air heating system.

9. The first air conditioner wasn’t for people’s comfort! The first modern air conditioner was invented by Willis Carrier in 1902 for a publishing company in Brooklyn. The machine kept temperature and humidity low so that paper didn’t expand and contract. Carrier never intended for his invention to be solely used for comfort!

10. The top 3 commercial energy uses in the US are: lighting, space heating, and space cooling.

Is it Greener to Retrofit than Build New?

We all know that building new green buildings is always a hot idea, but experts have been pushing the idea that retrofitting existing buildings with green upgrades provide more environmental benefits. Your first thought may be new = better however, there is now proof that these experts are correct from a report released earlier this year. The report found that it is unequivocally greener to retrofit an old building than construct a new green building, no matter how many high-tech bells and whistles are in the new construction. The report was drawn from “The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse” project which was commissioned by Preservation Green Lab.

Elizabeth Heider, chair of the board of directors at the USGBC said “The thought was in order to build green you have to build new.” However, the report numbers add up in favor of retrofits. The report states:

  • It can take between 10 and 80 years for a new energy-efficient building to overcome, through more efficient operations, the negative climate change impacts that come from construction.
  • Environmental savings from re-use are between 4 and 46 percent over new construction when comparing buildings with the same energy performance level
  • The negative environmental impact of retro green for human health was between 12 and 38 percent less than for new construction
  • When it comes to ROIs, retros showed a 19.2% increase in ROI versus 9.9% for new buildings

Case in point, retrofitting is the way to go! Bruner has a successful track record of helping our customers retrofit their mechanical systems for over 50 years. Let us assist you in developing a retrofit solution that works best for your building by contacting us today!

12th Avenue Tunnel Project Completed!

As summer comes to an end, so does the construction on the OSU Wexner Medical Center 12th Avenue Tunnel project. Bruner was chosen to relocate the utility tunnel in order to provide high pressure steam and chilled water to the new Critical Cancer Tower along with distribution to other main hospitals on OSU’s Medical Center Campus. The new underground tunnel connects from the South Campus Chiller Plant and travels down Cannon Drive and up 12th Avenue to a main valve vault located at the corner of 12th Avenue and Harding Hospital. With the help of Bruner, this mechanical upgrade will result in greater efficiencies and savings in operational costs and energy in adjacent buildings.

Electrical, plumbing, and HVAC services were maintained throughout construction to major OSU buildings, and all piping systems were installed after the tunnel completion. So what was included you ask? For the chilled water piping there is: 1600 lineal ft of 36” and 900 lineal ft of 42” extra heavy carbon steel pipe, and 500 lineal ft of 24” pre-insulated underground piping. As for the high pressure steam and condensate piping: 1000 lineal ft of 12” seamless carbon steel piping and 1500 lineal feet of 8” and 6” stainless steel piping. Bruner manpower peaked at 20 pipefitters and welders at one time!

So the next time you are walking around Ohio State’s campus and find yourself on 12th Avenue, think about the hard work put in by Bruner to achieve efficiency and energy savings below you!

5 Ways to Reduce Your Energy Cost

Temperatures are high, but these techniques will help you keep your energy costs low:

  1. Reduce HVAC System Operations When Building or Space is Unoccupied
    1. Minimize direct cooling of unoccupied areas by turning off fan coil units and unit heaters, and by closing the vent or supply air diffuser
    2. Turn fans off
    3. Install system controls to reduce cooling/heating of unoccupied space
  2. Minimize Exhaust and Make-Up Air
    1. Keep doors closed when air conditioning is running
    2. Properly insulate walls and ceilings
    3. install thermal windows to minimize cooling and heating loss
  3. Implement a Regular Maintenance Plan
    1. Check fans for lint, dirt, or other causes of reduced flow
    2. Schedule HVAC tune-ups (with us!) – the typical energy savings generated by tune-ups is 10%
    3. Replace air filters regularly
  4. Upgrade Fuel-Burning Equipment
    1. Install turbulators to improve heat transfer efficiency in older fire tube boilers
    2. Install automatic combustion control systems to monitor the combustion of exit gases and adjust the intake air for large boilers
    3. Install electric ignitions instead of prior lights
  5. Evaluate Boiler Operations
    1. Investigate preheating boiler feed water
    2. Adjust boilers and air conditioner controls so that boilers do not fire and compressors do not start at the same time but satisfy demand
    3. Use hot water from boiler condensate to preheat air

 

source: http://infohouse.p2ric.org/ref/26/25985.pdf

And the Award Goes To…

The BX Craftsmanship award judges met recently and selected nine individuals to be honored with a 2012 BX Craftsmanship award, and Bruner’s Doug Linnabary was one of the nine who received it! We would like to congratulate Doug and his team on the high-quality work that they performed on the Project Noble Data Center. Specific to the award, Doug was recognized for the installation of HVAC piping in the mechanical room and CRAH gallery at the Project Nobel Data Center.

Since 1964, the BX Craftsmanship Awards Program has recognized the importance of craftspeople for the quality work they provide to the local construction industry. The Craftsman recipients were selected from 29 nominations of work completed throughout the Central Ohio area during the past year.

We are proud of Doug, and expect his hard work and success to continue to be awarded in the future.

Project Spotlight: Miranova Helicopter Lift

In the autumn of 2011, Bruner technicians performed routine maintenance on seven make-up air units at One Miranova Place in Columbus, Ohio.  The seven make-up air units providing fresh air to the kitchens of over one hundred condominiums were found to be unsafe for operation, due to cracks in the gas fired heat exchangers, which could allow carbon monoxide to enter the living spaces of the tenants.

To provide a temporary repair, Bruner welders sealed the leaks, allowing the units to remain operational until new make-up air units were available for installation.  These repairs, while temporary, allowed the Board of Directors at Miranova time to investigate several options for a long term solution.

After receiving several proposals, the Board decided to accept the solution provided by the Bruner Corporation.  With advice from Prater Engineering, the Board accepted the offer from Bruner to remove the aging make-up air units, and install seven new “Aaon” 100% fresh air make-up air HVAC units.  The new Aaon units, with technological advances not available 15 years ago, provide increased energy efficiency and extended longevity.

One of the major obstacles facing Bruner was the difficulty in removing the existing units and mounting the new units to the rooftop of One Miranova Place, nearly 340 feet above street level.  After consulting with several crane companies, it was determined that the most economical means of replacing the units would be to utilize the services of Midwest Helicopter, a company specializing in lifting equipment inaccessible to conventional hoisting systems.

In preparation for the helicopter lift, Bruner technicians, led by Bob Hoffman and Don McNeal, [John Magill and Brian Caton also] spent many hours to assure that all components were able to be safely and efficiently lifted to and from the building.  Their efforts paid off, as the total time required to remove seven units and mount seven new units was under one and a half hours, nearly a fifth the time required for conventional hoisting methods.

With an extreme focus of safety and customer satisfaction, Bruner has once again demonstrated our commitment to excellence.  Even during this potentially dangerous helicopter lift, the interruption of business to Miranova One (condominiums) and Miranova Two (office building) was negligible.

Hats off to the Bruner team for making this event run so flawlessly.

 

Discover the Value of HVAC Preventative Maintenance

In a way, HVAC preventative maintenance can be compared to that of your car. If you spend $30 on an oil change in your car, you would save $3,000 on a new engine. If you don’t change the oil and replace belts and filters, the engine will lock up and the vehicle won’t operate. Proper preventative maintenance for HVAC equipment will basically do the same thing. Maintenance isn’t expensive compared to what you might need to spend if your system degrades, and therefore ultimately fails. An example is provided by Anthony Shaker, vice president of operations at UNICO Newton, MA:

If you have a piece of equipment that costs $10,000 to maintain and has a forecasted life of 10 years if properly maintained, you will spend only $20,000 from first cost to replacement cost at the 10-year mark, assuming it would cost $10,000 again to replace it at the end of its lifecycle. However, if you did not properly maintain the unit and it failed at the 5-year mark, you would need to spend $10,000 to replace it after 5 years and then replace that same unit again in another 5 years if you continued to not perform maintenance. Your total cost would be $30,000.

Bruner agrees there are a few key concepts to pay attention to. First, HVAC system maintenance isn’t expensive compared to what you might spend if your system degrades. Second, the first place to turn when building a successful HVAC maintenance plan should be the manufacturer’s operating and maintenance manual. Don’t overlook these maintenance manuals because they provide a concrete blueprint for the steps you need to take to maintain chillers, boilers, motors, air-handling units—every piece of equipment in a building’s HVAC system! Next, by tracking different system indicators such as oil temperature, RPM speed, etc. you can pick up on many emerging problems before they reach a crisis situation. Finally, it’s important to do a life-cycle cost analysis when determining if you should repair or replace an aging HVAC system component. Ideally, the ratio of spending for HVAC systems should be 70% preventive maintenance and 30% corrective maintenance.

Bruner’s planned, predictive, and preventive approach to HVAC system maintenance results in your ability to control costs, extend the life of the facility and its systems, thereby improving operations and cash flow.

Ready to get started? You can trust Bruner, the #1 Heating and Cooling company in Central Ohio, to get the job done.

 

 

Source: http://www.buildings.com/tabid/3334/ArticleID/3183/Default.aspx#top

Tips from Contractors for Long Compressor Life

In order to keep an air-conditioning system running efficiently, it is crucial to keep the compressor in tip-top shape.  There are a few vital areas to take into consideration when focusing on the life of your compressor– troubleshooting, maintenance, and tools. Be sure to follow these tips to keep your air-conditioning system running efficiently, especially in the up-coming warmer weather:

Troubleshooting Tips:

  • Keep your condenser oil clean. A dirty condenser will cause higher than normal head pressures, which creates heat and will cause your saturated suction temperatures to be warm, causing compression failures.
  • Check superheat settings. Too low of superheat may cause liquid flooding, which is bad for the compressor.

Maintenance Tips:

  • Test electrical integrity. If you question any readings- get to the terminal to retake the readings. However, before you go and pull wires off, carefully inspect the terminals and the surroundings for any burn or fatigue signs. If an area is showing signs of terminal failure or burns, proceed with extreme caution.
  • Be sure to check: the capacitor, superheat, subcooling, crankcase heater, contractor voltage drop, and the disconnect condition
  • Lubrication is Key. Be sure to have enough oil to make sure the system is not flooding back and diluting the oil. Test the oil safety control, if there is one, by verifying the pressure setting and checking the timing.
  • Well-Trained Technicians

Tool Tips:

  • Measure compressor winding insulation integrity using a megohmmeter
  • Measure refrigerant pressures and compare them to factory data
  • All measurements need to be done with an instrument! Your hand is not a thermometer, and simply saying “it feels cold” is not correct data!

 

Source: The NEWS “Contractor Tips for Long Compressor Life”