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A university’s HVAC system is unlike any other. The expectations placed on a heating and cooling system at an institute of higher education are complex and diverse. They are expected to provide customized heating and cooling for a variety of spaces that serve different purposes, from simple sleeping quarters to classrooms to labs to libraries and cafes.

On the economic side of things, a University’s HVAC system is also quite an investment. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars, depending upon the scope, needs and size of the project. Protecting your investment by ensuring proper maintenance.

Like any other type of large investment, whether it’s a house, a car, a boat or anything else, your university’s HVAC system is prone to time-related wear and tear, and requires regular maintenance and upkeep to function at full performance.

The average commercial HVAC system is built to last around 15- 20 years; however there are multiple factors that can shorten their lifespan, and they all point to lack of routine maintenance. What happens to your system is largely within your control, and can be dictated through regular and proactive preventative maintenance. We’ve spoken at length about proper installation of your university’s HVAC system, but now it’s time to explore the maintenance issues that affect its performance once it’s installed.

Because of the constant use, complex design and sheer power output of a university’s HVAC system it’s generally recommended that you have your system maintained at least once per season. Service should always be completed by a licensed, experienced and quailed technician. Universal Mechanical Group has been providing affordable and professional HVAC maintenance for universities for years, and we’re ready to do the same for you. Call us at (973) 866-5445.

Common Issues for HVAC Systems for Universities

While each university’s HVAC system’s needs will vary based upon design variables, level of use and other factors, there are several key issues that affect the daily and long-term performance of every system. These issues are best resolved through maintenance.  

Filters Are Not Just for Decoration

Air filters play a key role in the maintenance, operability and longevity of your university’s HVAC system. They may not look like much based upon their design and portability, but they’re critical to the health of your system. Air filters work by trapping particulates that can circulate back through your system, including but not limited to:

  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Mold Spores
  • Hair
  • Dander
  • Microorganisms

This relatively small piece of cardboard and metal can dramatically improve indoor air quality, playing a key role in the respiratory health of your students, faculty and staff all year round.

If this isn’t enough of an incentive, consider the economic benefits of having your air filter regularly changed out. By changing the air filter, you can cut those energy costs by as much as 15 percent. It’s amazing how something so small can make a big difference when it comes to your HVAC system’s performance and efficiency.

By neglecting to change the air filter, you risk re-circulating pollutants and particulates throughout your space, and introducing bacteria and mold to the AC unit itself, causing it to grow and become a much bigger problem. Additionally, hair, dust, and other contaminants clog up the inner workings of your AC unit and lead to dysfunction down the line.

An inexpensive filter change saves you from a costlier air conditioning repair bill later on. Despite it being a relatively easy fix, some people let months or even years go by without changing their filters.

Your Thermostat Is the Spokesperson for Your Entire HVAC System

Thermostat issues are also very common in commercial HVAC maintenance. Some of the main symptoms of a bad or malfunctioning thermostat include

  • Refusal of Your Heater or AC to Start
  • Constant Incessant Running of Your System
  • Continued Malfunctioning Despite Batter Changes
  • Different Temperatures throughout the Space
  • The Thermostat Has No Power or Is Unresponsive
  • Constant Audible Clicking with No Results

Your thermostat is basically the brains of your commercial HVAC system’s operation, and is responsible for sending signals for your heater or AC to go on and off. If there’s a problem with it, and it’s failing to transmit the correct direction to your system to turn on or off, you run the risk of burning out key components of your system such as the blower motor and other vital components.

The United States Department of Energy reports that you can save as much as 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting. You can easily save energy in the winter by setting the thermostat to 68°F while you are awake and setting it lower while you’re asleep or away from home.

Routine commercial HVAC maintenance will invariably include the inspection of your thermostat to see if its temperature settings are similar to the actual temperature in your office. If there’s a marked difference between the two temperatures, there may be something wrong with the thermostat or the HVAC unit. This should be done by an experienced, licensed and qualified HVAC technician.

Soiled Coils Can Make Your System Spoil

The evaporator coil takes in hot air the heat inside of your building, while the condenser coil expels it into the outdoor air. Over time, as coils become dirty, they will become weaker in transferring the hot air out of your indoor space. This will reduce your HVAC system’s ability to cool your building.  As part of the routine commercial HVAC maintenance process, a certified HVAC technician will clean your air-conditioning unit’s evaporator and condenser coils to enhance its cooling power. The cost of replacing or repairing a coil can be incredibly expensive.

Friction is Not Your Friend

The lubrication of your college’s HVAC system’s components is a critical part of routine maintenance. The gears, bearings, and belts within an HVAC system are constantly moving when your heating and cooling units are operating. If they aren’t properly lubricated, it can lead to friction and prevent your equipment from working smoothly.

This leads to increased wear and tear and higher utility bills. Lubricating your HVAC system’s components is a fundamental part of the maintenance process, and should be completed various points during the year to preventing stripping and collision of parts within your unit.

Look Before You Leak

Leaks in the refrigerant lines and other seals in your system dramatically affect performance, and literally translate to loss of money. According to Energy Star, air-conditioning systems lose an average of 20 to 30 percent of the air they produce due to leaks, cracks, holes, and loose joints in the ductwork.

Routine Commercial HVAC maintenance includes the regular inspections on your air ducts and fix any leaks that may be found. Proper maintenance of your air ducts can improve comfort in your building and lower your utility bills. As colleges continue to hemorrhage cash due to increase utility bills, HVAC system leaks are a common culprit.

This May Shock You

Malfunctioning electrical connections not only affect your commercial HVAC system’s ability to function properly, they also increase the risk of fire. While performing commercial HVAC maintenance agreement, the HVAC technician will check and repair all the electrical connections in your system to prevent short circuits, electric shock, and the possibility of fire. This is an important task for maintaining a safe work environment for your employees.

Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness

One of the most important parts of the college HVAC maintenance process is keeping your system clean. The components of your HVAC system need to be cleaned regularly, such as air ducts, vents, grills, drain pan, blower motor, and heat exchanger.

If these parts are soiled or grimy, they can have a negative impact on the performance of your HVAC unit and air quality in your university. A licensed professional HVAC  technician will clean and inspect all components of your them properly to make your equipment look and work like new.

These little, yet vital, rituals are essential to the long-term health and growth of your system. A very small investment in a commercial HVAC contract can prevent tens of thousands of dollars in damage down the road.

Class Is In Session: UMG Is Your Professor for HVAC Systems for Universities

Universal Mechanical Group is committed to helping universities all over the New Jersey, including Union County, Bergen County and the rest of the state. We have helped countless higher-education clients in Alpine, NJ; East Rutherford, NJ; Edgewater, NJ; Englewood, NJ; Franklin lakes, NJ; Glen Rock, NJ; Mahwah, NJ; Maywood, NJ; Palisades Park, NJ; Paramus, NJ or you own a larger fine-dining establishment or bar and grill in cities like Ridgewood, NJ; Rutherford, NJ; Saddle Brook, NJ; Saddle River, NJ; Ho Ho Kus, NJ; Demarest, NJ; Woodcliff Lakes, NJ and throughout the state keep their students safe, healthy and comfortable. Call us today at (973) 866-5445 to see what we can do for you. We look forward to hearing from you