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Originally published in Interiors & Sources

12/28/2012

Wintertime HVAC Maintenance Tips

Secure cooling efficiency during the heating season. These maintenance tips and tricks will weather the winter.

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Tune up cooling equipment during the heating season to lower the risk of failure when warm weather returns.
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Fix Leaks and Malfunctions
Leaks and poorly performing equipment can stymie your best efforts to shore up cooling efficiency, so as you give the rest of the system a tune-up, keep an eye out for components that need repairs.

11 Ways to Cut Cooling Costs

Still not satisfied with your energy spend? Consider these tips to carve out more savings.

  1. Raise thermostat settings for cooling if appropriate.

  2. Reduce the cooling system’s run hours as much as possible.

  3. Reset the chilled water temperature.

  4. Implement and improve the water treatment system in cooling towers.

  5. Clean the evaporator and condenser tubes to remove scale or buildup.

  6. Clean the fan blades, lubricate bearings, and adjust belts as needed.

  7. Minimize the use of reheat.

  8. Commission your ventilating systems through testing, adjusting, and balancing.

  9. Make sure the control valves operate correctly.

  10. Use multiple pump controls to reduce pumping-related operating costs.

  11. Don’t cool unused space.
Ductwork leaks, for example, are fairly common, Brookover notes. Unfortunately, this problem is also frequently overlooked unless a sudden leak triggers a significant spike in energy consumption. Sealing duct leaks and restoring the integrity of the unit cabinet can save around 20% of your annual cooling consumption, FEMP advises.

Common corrective actions including simple screw or latch replacements, patching or replacing gaskets, and replacing missing screws on any loose access panels. The condensate drain pipe may also leak air, so be sure to recharge P-traps or U-bend water traps for condensate drain pans.

If you have an economizer, also check it for malfunctions, which FEMP notes can include a jammed outside air damper; jammed, broken, or disconnected linkage; a nonfunctioning actuator; or inaccurate air temperature sensors. These issues impair the economizer’s ability to sense and respond to the temperature of the outside air vs. return air.

Additionally, an economizer that’s not operating properly can actually waste energy. If the outside air damper is stuck open, the HVAC system has to work harder to heat or cool the excess outdoor air.

FEMP recommends a twice-yearly test of economizer function using the following three steps:

  • When the system is mechanically cooling, make sure the economizer is using minimum outdoor air settings.
  • Cycle the minimum position potentiometer from 0 to full open. Watch the damper to make sure it can operate freely and without obstruction the entire time.
  • On a cool day when the damper is open, warm the outdoor air temperature sensor with your hands or an electric hair dryer to see if the damper moves to its minimum position. If it doesn’t, you might need to recalibrate the sensor or deal with malfunctioning economizer controls.

Got another tip? Email it to janelle.penny@buildings.com – your advice could end up in a future issue.

 

Janelle Penny janelle.penny@buildings.com is associate editor of BUILDINGS.

 


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