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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.

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.

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

Boiler Replacement: Start to Finish in 4 Days

On Friday, February 17, around noon, Service Technician Steve Haag received a call from the Kroger regional office in Westerville indicating that they had a leak into the first floor offices below the mechanical room. Haag’s immediate action was to find the leak and identify its cause. Once at the Kroger office, he found that the leak was coming from their thirty-year-old Ajax fire tube boiler.

Project Engineer Chip Neville was contacted to come up with options for which to rectify the situation. “A repair of that style boiler requires special certification welding that only a couple of people in central Ohio have,” Neville said. “Unfortunately, our certified technician was out of town on another service until late the following week.” By the time he arrived at the Kroger office at about 2:30pm, Haag had the system opened and they found more than just a few tubes were leaking.

The two deduced that a repair was not an option and turned their focus toward a new system. Neville had checked options on his way over with Kevin McGovern Associates and Herbert & Conway, and while on site, he received pricing from both. With those costs in mind, the Bruner team discussed options with Kroger representatives with regards to equipment availability, efficiency, cost, and timing.

By 5:00pm that day, Neville presented firm budgets and a recommendation to Kroger’s Senior Engineer, Eric Wagonknecht, with a target of having the new boiler in place by the end of the following week.

Wagonknecht asked the Bruner team to proceed with a modular boiler option called EVO by Hamilton Engineering. Thanks to Kevin McGovern and the late night put in by the Hamilton Engineering team, the boiler was ordered and its assembly started by 6:00pm.

After tremendous effort by the entire Bruner team, the system was ready to be started by the end of the day Thursday – less than one week after discovering the problem. By 10:00am on Friday morning, the Bruner team had the heat back on in the building just as outdoor temperatures dropped. The replacement even managed to increase system efficiency from 76 to 95 percent.

Thanks to the Bruner team for their incredible diligence and efficiency in delighting our customer with excellent service: Steve Haag, Larry Carver, Don McNeal, and Rocky Carr, with assistance from Kevin McGovern Associates and Hamilton Engineering.

If you’re worried about your mechanical systems, check out our e-book for 9 tips to keep them in tip-top shape!

Is Your HVAC System Prepared for April Showers?

With April showers well on their way, one customer asked the question, “How does all this rain affect my HVAC system?”

Bruner Engineer John Mrofchak has the answer:

An air cooled condensing unit could operate more efficiently with a lower discharge pressure when it is raining outside or when cooled with moisture. However, air cooled condensing units are typically not designed to be continually sprayed with moisture. Continual moisture could create several issues, including electrical, compressor, and condenser coil damage.
Compressor damage could result by water spray overcooling the condenser, and liquid refrigerant returning to the compressor. Compressors are designed to compress gas, not liquid. The refrigerant in an air conditioning system changes state from liquid to gas as part of the air conditioning process.
The condenser coil could be damaged by poor spray water quality. Another type of outdoor condensing unit is an evaporative condenser. If you have an evaporative condenser, you’re in the clear; they are designed to be continually sprayed with moisture.

For a more detailed explanation or assistance preparing your systems for the influx of moisture, contact Bruner Corporation at (614) 334-9000.

 

Spring has Sprung: Schedule Your Seasonal Inspection

Depending on the contents of your service maintenance agreement, you may be due for a spring inspection. Spring inspections are vital to your system to prepare it for the cooling season. There’s nothing worse than system malfunctions with temperatures topping out in the 90s or 100s!

What should your service technician be inspecting?

The inspection of your outdoor condenser unit is most important and has the greatest significance of your cooling system. The technician should check for proper refrigerant levels; a system that is low on refrigerant will run for longer periods of time, consuming more energy. They should also inspect the system base pan for restricted drain openings, coil and cabinet, fan motor and fan blades for wear and damage, control box, associated controls and accessories, wiring, and connections.

Additional tasks your service technician may perform:

  • Installing gauges and checking operating pressures
  • Checking voltage and amperage to all motors
  • Checking air temperature drop across evaporator
  • Checking for adequate refrigerant charge
  • Looking for any visible signs of leaks
  • Oiling motors if needed
  • Checking belts and adjust tension (if needed)
  • Checking pressure switch cutout settings
  • Checking reversing valves
  • Adding 1lb. of R-22 or 410-A refrigerant (if applicable)
  • Checking all wiring and connections
  • Changing air filters
  • Checking electrical lockout circuits
  • Checking starting contractors
  • Cleaning condenser coil (if needed)
  • Checking and adjust thermostat
  • Checking air temperature across condenser
  • Checking that condensate drain is open
  • Checking and cleaning disconnect

During the spring isn’t the only time you should be worried about your HVAC system. Check out our e-book for 9 Tips to Keeping Your Mechanical Systems in Tip-Top Shape all year round!

If you’re in need of a preventative maintenance agreement, please contact us to ensure your systems are all set for the coming months!

Bad Omens for Your HVAC System

It’s Friday the 13th. Superstition may get the best of us today, but remember that there are numerous tell-tale signs that indicate it may be time to replace your HVAC system – it’s not just bad luck!

  • The heat exchanger develops cracks or holes
  • The heat exchanger rusts
  • Moisture is in the furnace
  • Water on the floor below the boiler
  • Rust is on the boiler
  • A compressor has burned out
  • Excessive noises are coming from the HVAC system
  • Your utility bills start to rise
  • Frequent repairs are required to keep the system running
  • Increased humidity
  • More dust in the air
  • The air conditioning unit is 12-15 years old
  • The furnace is 15-20 years old
  • The boiler is 15-20 years
  • The HVAC system is no longer able to keep up with heating and cooling needs

If it is, in fact, time to replace your HVAC system, give us a call. We’ll be happy to walk you through the steps necessary to get your system up and running most efficiently and effectively.