HVAC systems are essential for maintaining a comfortable indoor environment in commercial buildings. However, HVAC systems can be prone to a number of issues, including air leaks, clogged filters, and dirty coils, to name a few. Here are the most common HVAC system issues that we find and fix.
The most common issue found in HVAC systems is refrigerant leaks. If not fixed early enough, refrigerant leaks could harm your HVAC system and cause much larger issues down the road. Indications of a refrigerant leak include oil around valves, service ports, AC connections, or if your system simply fails to blow cool air. Short cycling is a normal audible queue in that your system has a refrigerant leak.
Typically, an air conditioner runs the compressor until the thermostat tells it to stop. Damage to the thermostat, clogged or dirty filters, and refrigerant leaks can cause your compressor to short cycle. The audible queue previously mentioned is the sound of the compressor in a continuous restart state until the cooling cycle finishes.
The filter is vital in protecting your air conditioner and evaporator coil from dirt and debris. When it gets clogged, the system and coils cannot adequately allow air to flow creating negative pressure and causing the system to work twice as hard. Changing the filters of your system quarterly or monthly can help your HVAC system's power and lifespan.
Dirty Condenser Coils
A key component of HVAC systems is the condenser coil. These coils help release heat generated by the unit to the outside. An accumulation of dust, dirt, debris, leaves, and grass, among other things, can reduce the unit's ability to release the heat generated. In fact, an EPA study showed a 21% drop in cooling efficiency as a result of as little as 0.042” of dirt on condensing coils. Clearly, it is important to keep condenser coils clean in order to maintain optimal HVAC performance. There are a few different ways to clean coils, but the most effective way is to use a coil cleaning brush. These brushes are designed to reach into tight spaces and remove even the most stubborn dirt and debris.
Noises emanating from your HVAC system are great auditory signs of issues with your HVAC unit. A few that we typically run into are as simple as:
- Squeaking - could be a lack of lubricant in the motor
- Vibration - unbalanced fan
- Thud - obstructed fan
- Rattling - from the blower of loose ducts
- Buzzing or Hissing - typically a leak
- Boom - the furnace fails to ignite
- Whistling - from a boiler meaning there is trapped air or a blockage
With nearly two-thirds of RTUs experiencing a malfunctioning economizer, this is a common problem we find and fix. An economizer helps reduce energy consumption for cooling. A damper opens up to collect outside air for circulation if the outside air is cool enough and low in humidity. If the economize isn't function as intended, its air temperature sensors might fail or the dampers become stuck.
A clogged drain can cause a drop in air quality and create a buildup of stale and moldy water that can damage and rust components. This moisture and condensation, collected on the coil, is the result of refrigerant converting from liquid to gas in the evaporator coils. We recommend checking the drain pipe every time your or your maintenance provider performs an inspection.
Loose Evaporator Belt
If you have a loose evaporator belt, it can be hard on the pulley, reduce the fan's speed, and inevitably freeze the coil. The belt should be inspected and replaced quarterly or bi-yearly depending on its wear.