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Maintaining Your HVAC System Cheat Sheet by

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Mainta­ining your HVAC systems not only protects the equipment – it also protects the people in your building from discomfort and IAQ concerns, and protects you from a lawsuit. There are many ways to make sure that indoor air is kept at approp­riate levels:
Mainta­ining your HVAC systems not only protects the equipment – it also protects the people in your building from discomfort and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ )concerns, and protects you from a lawsuit. There are many ways to make sure that indoor air is kept at approp­riate levels:

Keep an eye on the air vents – you can find out if mold or other pollutants are entering your occupied space.
Watch for a musty odor.
Keep in touch with tenant­s/o­ccu­pants, and ask them to partic­ipate in surveys regarding air quality.
Listen to people’s complaints and take them seriously.

In addition to keeping IAQ in check, routine mainte­nance lowers utility costs and reduce equipm­ent­-re­pla­cement costs. Check out these tips from a variety of sources about HVAC mainte­nance and preser­vation.

Replace Filters (every 1-6 months)

Filters should be replaced regularly. Inspect them routinely for a few months and then decide, based on what you see, how often they should be replaced.

Clean Evaporator & Condenser Coils (1-2/year)

Evaporator coils are a place that mold grows best. In addition to constant dampness, the supply side of the coil is in contact with outside air and the dirt that isn’t caught by filters.
The condenser coil degrades quickly because of dirt. It doesn’t have an effect on indoor air quality, so cleaning it at the same time you clean the evaporator coil will improve energy effici­ency.
Coils soiled with microbial growth are hard to clean. A cleaning product with an approp­riate dwell time is required to eliminate the micro-­org­anisms. Built-up fungal growth is difficult to clean from metal surfaces, but don’t use an aggressive cleaner. Keeping the coils clean from the start will cut down on the time you spend on mainte­nance. Antimi­crobial treatments are a good option to interrupt the growth of mold.

Inspect Fan, Bearings, and Belts (twice annually)

Even though fan, bearing, and belt operation don’t have a direct impact on IAQ, you should still inspect these pieces as part of your preven­tiv­e-m­ain­tenance plan. Cleaning the blades on a small fan can take an hour or more; cleaning larger fans, especially those with multiple wheels on a single shaft, can take quite a while.
Check to see if fan motors are running in the wrong direction. This may not be obvious because fans can still supply flow if they’re running backwards. Clear labels on the fan housing, pulleys, the motor, and wires can prevent this problem.
Self-lubricating bearings on fans need the bearing cassette replaced when they fail. Look for lots of noise, vibration, or heat coming from the bearing. Greased ball bearings are occasi­onally found in packaged units; their most common problem is over-g­rea­sing, which can be as damaging as under-­gre­asing.
Belts should be aligned to prevent wear. Maintain proper tension; loose belts slip on the pulley wheels, causing torque loss and rapid wear. Belts that are too tight put an extreme load on the motor and fan shaft bearings, causing premature failure.

Inspect Area Around Air Intake (twice annually)

Water can pool around air-ha­ndlers, and mold can grow there. Mold near the air intake means that spores could be sucked into the ventil­ation system and brought into your building. Check for standing water around the air-ha­ndler.

Fix Leaks in Cabinet & Supply Duct (annual)

Annual check-ups should contain a search for air leaks, a replac­ement of screws or latches, and patching or replacing gaskets. Cabinet and duct reliab­ility is partic­ularly important on the supply-air side, where high pressure can force air out of a small crack.

Clean & Adjust Dampers (annual)

Improper damper operation is one of the most common problems in HVAC equipment, and this can negatively affect indoor air quality and increase utility use.
Operating properly, dampers keep the compressor from running when the outside air temper­ature is lower than approx­imately 60 degrees F. If they’re not kept clean and lubric­ated, they stick, denying free cooling potential or overlo­ading the cooling coil with too much hot outside air.
All movable surfaces should be cleaned and lubric­ated. Afterw­ards, a damper should be run through the full range. Then, you should check the setpoint.

Clean Air Ducts (every 2 years)

The National Air Duct Cleaners Associ­ation (NADCA) recommends inspecting supply side and return air ducts every 2 years (once per year in hospit­als). If you find dirt, clean the ducts.

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