10 Steps to Better HVAC Preventative Maintenance – A Checklist

Energy Star reports that commercial buildings waste 33% of their energy for various reasons. An HVAC maintenance checklist can help reduce energy waste. Some waste occurs due to building construction or lack of insulation, others due to ineffective maintenance. A commercial air conditioning system consumes more power than other building systems, not just in the summer months. Improving energy efficiency by just 10% reduces energy use, lowers energy bills, and slashes CO2 emissions. A win, win, and win!

Did you know?

Adding building automation systems and other advanced technologies can lower energy consumption. But even the most advanced systems cannot overcome the energy wasted by a poorly maintained HVAC system.

Developing an HVAC preventative maintenance program and diligently following each step keeps HVAC equipment at peak operating condition. The overall results will speak for themselves by the following benefits.

  • Lowered Energy Costs
  • Fewer Equipment Repairs
  • Extended Equipment Lifespan
  • Reduced Operating Costs
  • Improved Indoor Air Quality

Why is Preventative Maintenance so Important?

Preventative maintenance is when an HVAC technician proactively performs maintenance procedures to lessen the likelihood of equipment failure, reduce unexpected downtime, and prolong system life.

Implementing a regular HVAC preventative maintenance plan offers many advantages. It can reduce costly breakdowns by up to 95% and slash energy bills by up to 30%. Just like regular checkups keep humans healthy and living longer, regular HVAC maintenance can extend system life and ensure manufacturers cover repair claims submitted under warranty.

What Should an HVAC Preventative Maintenance Checklist Include?

Here are 10 maintenance tips to keep HVAC equipment running efficiently without unexpected failures and breakdowns.

  1. Develop and follow a maintenance schedule. Not every building puts the same demands on its HVAC unit, and (almost) every HVAC system is designed differently. Therefore, a customized commercial HVAC preventative maintenance plan is required to deliver each system specific care to operate efficiently throughout the year.
  2. Put safety first. Follow prescribed Lock Out/Tag Out Procedures and wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) before inspecting and repairing HVAC systems.
  3. Perform a visual inspection. HVAC equipment incorporates several moving parts, combustion assemblies, and electrical systems. Wear and tear, dirt and weather can impact the condition of these components and adversely affect operation. During a visual inspection, a technician checks that all parts in the system, including ducts, are clean, in good shape, and vented correctly. The technician should make a note of all findings or repair needs.
  4. Replace air filters. Running commercial HVAC equipment with clean air filters can lower energy consumption by up to 15%. Swap out air filters every three to six months per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Air filters may need more frequent replacing during periods of high use. Once replaced, inspect air filters every three to four weeks to ensure they remain unclogged. Restricted airflow through HVAC systems can hinder system performance.
  5. Check belt and pulley condition. In an HVAC system, belts and pulleys increase or reduce speed, increase or reduce torque, and transfer power from one shaft to another. This can cause wear and tear on HVAC system components. Inspect belts for wear or damage. Look for cracks, frayed spots, cuts, or unusual wear patterns, and examine belts for signs of excessive heat. Misaligned pulleys quickly wear out belts and bearings and can cause belts to slip or fall off.
  6. Clean condenser and evaporator coils. HVAC systems expose evaporator and condenser coils to circulating air as they operate. For evaporator coils, this air can contain dirt, fungi, and mold, which gets deposited on coils, and into drains as the system operates. Filtering the air does help, but leaky ducts and wrong air filter placement can let in debris. Similarly, condenser coils can get caked with dirt. It’s essential to clean evaporator and condenser coils twice yearly with a commercial coil cleaner system.
  7. Clean and check condensate drain lines. In most cooling applications, HVAC systems generate water, called condensate, as a by-product as they operate. The systems must properly move this water out of the building using condensate lines to prevent structural damage. If condensate lines become clogged, they can overflow and cause severe damage. While most modern systems have float switches to stop significant damage, they are not always perfect. Float switches should be checked too, and coils treated with mold and mildew inhibitors to limit the risk of odor.
  8. Inspect electrical connections. Loose electrical connections or damaged wires can lead to big problems and safety issues in commercial HVAC equipment. Check for loose connections and corroded or frayed wires and repair them as needed.
  9. Check thermostat operation. Commercial property owners report faulty thermostats are among the most common HVAC problems they see. Correctly tuned programmable thermostats ensure optimal energy savings. Begin by programming thermostats correctly. Then regularly check that they remain on the correct setting. Faulty wiring and other electromechanical issues may be an issue when thermostat programming and settings are correct, but the unit still functions improperly.
  10. Check for adequate airflow. Every HVAC system incorporates two separate duct systems: supply ductwork that delivers cooled or heated air within the building and return ductwork that takes air back to the HVAC system. Return ducts should have the same airflow as supply ducts for balanced operation in all but rare cases. Cooling and heating equipment performance declines, energy consumption rises, and system components wear more quickly with insufficient airflow. Inspect all vents. Ensure supply and return vents are fully open and furniture or other objects do not obstruct airflow into and out of these vents.

Next Steps

HVAC systems play a vital role in comfort, indoor air quality, and energy consumption, underscoring the need to keep these systems in peak condition. Download the Goodway HVAC Maintenance Checklist here for an easy way to track preventive maintenance. Goodway expert Sales Engineers can work with you to identify the best maintenance solutions for your specific HVAC system. Goodway offers chiller and boiler tube cleaners, heat exchanger cleaners, hose/pipe cleaners, descaler systems, air duct cleaners, industrial vacuums, commercial pressure washers, drain cleaners, coil cleaners, and other maintenance-related equipment to keep HVAC systems in tip-top shape. Click here to see all Goodway Technologies products.

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