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Commercial HVAC service is a service you should have on the tip of your fingers if you are a commercial building owner, manager or tenant.
A lot of people focus on the actual structure and the business. They then overlook the HVAC system. The result is almost always ugly. You can lose a lot of income and even worse clientele.
Clients want to be met by high-quality air when they come to your business. If your space is too cold, too hot or stuffy, they will run off to your competitors. This should be your nightmare as a commercial tenant or commercial buildings owner.
This article guides you through the steps of taking care of your commercial HVAC in Santa Clarita and nearby.
What is Commercial HVAC?
Commercial HVAC systems have the same objectives as those of residential systems. The goal is to always keep the tenants of the building cozy and comfortable and ensure the air’s humidity levels are in check.
Heating to keep the building warm is usually through burning fuel such as gas, oil or electricity. Just like your residential system, your commercial HVAC system should:
- help eliminate odors,
- dilute gases such as carbon dioxide,
- prevent the spread of respiratory infections.
On those hot days when you need cooling, your commercial HVAC will extract hot air from the space and replace it with cooler air from outside.
But how does the commercial HVAC system perform all these. Read on to find out.
How Does Commercial HVAC System Work?
For a commercial HVAC system to control the cooling system of a building, three things are needed:
- cool or warm air,
- effective distribution method,
The warm air in the commercial building flows through the same duct as the cool air. However, the source of the two will be different.
We look at these in detail below.
Warm or Cool air
When heating is turned on in commercial buildings, the burners produce combustion gas that is transferred to the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger then warms the air and passes it through. However, sometimes, heat exchangers transfer outdoor heat into the building.
The air conditioning systems work in pretty much the say way. They, however, transfer indoor heat outside and bring in cool air.
Remember that some commercial buildings use the boiler system to warm the building. The boiler system heats the water. The hot water is then transferred through the pipes installed in the walls ceilings. You may not notice the transportation of the water through the pipes. But, you will notice the air warming up.
The system that circulates treated air has to be in check. Otherwise, just heating the air would be useless. And it always helps to have insulated and well-sealed HVAC ductwork and pipes to do the distribution.
To control the climate of your commercial building, there is a simple and programmable thermostat. And this is pretty much like those of residential HVAC systems.
However, commercial systems can also have direct digital controls (DDC). These are more complex than the regular thermostats. Commercial HVAC systems should have these advanced thermostats for better energy efficiency and control.
A central computer uses sensors to automate and monitor temperature and air quality.
In some commercial buildings, staff can adjust the settings from a central workstation. This is an excellent way to ensure all the users get troubleshoot, performance updates, and maintenance.
As you can see DDC is more advanced, flexible, and sophisticated than a regular thermostat. It is also more expensive.
Types of Commercial HVAC Systems
We discuss the three main configurations of commercial HVAC systems below. Read on for details.
These are all-in-one HVAC units. They consist of:
- fan coil,
They have an integrated thermostat too. We recommend packaged HVAC systems for buildings with no rooms for bigger ones.
The packaged terminal air conditioners are often mounted on windows of hotels, hospitals, condos and senior homes. These are buildings that require the occupants to control the rooms’ air quality and temperature.
Split HVAC systems are mostly connected to the building’s ductwork, just like residential systems. They are often ideal for residential buildings. However, they work great for small commercial buildings such as offices, stores, and restaurants. Every area can be controlled through the DDC or a thermostat.
The downside of split systems needs a separate HVAC unit for each space. This, therefore, ends up cluttering the rooftop or the area around the building. You, however, can add zoning to control different spaces, but it is costly.
If you would want to cool or heat different zones of a large or medium commercial building, we recommend a variable refrigerant flow system(VRF). We review VRFs below.
Variable Refrigerant Flow System (VRF)
VRFs were developed in the 80s in Japan. These are very sophisticated commercial HVAC systems.
They are ductless HVAC systems. They instead depend on heat pumps or heat recovery systems to transfer refrigerant from the central outdoor unit. This outdoor unit hosts all the condensers and compressors.
The speed at which the indoor unit receives the refrigerant will determine the air conditioning or heating of the space. This, therefore, makes it a good option if you are looking for something customizable.
Another reason we recommend the VRFs is their powerful yet silent indoor unit. Also, this unit takes little space. Therefore, if you have no space for larger units, this could be your to-go unit. This indoor HVAC equipment is even installed in the elevators in some buildings. And no ductwork is needed for this!
VRFs are up to an incredible 30% more energy efficient than traditional ducted systems. This is because the varied compressor speed provides much more accurate temperature adjustments. And, not much energy is lost through the ductwork.
The downside of VRFs is they are expensive, both the buying and installation costs.
Rooftop RTU HVAC
A rooftop unit consists of a package unit on the roof. They are ideal for weather-resistant houses and flat roofs.
These HVAC systems consist of the condenser, compressor, blower and evaporator.
The good thing is that these come fully assembled from the manufacturer. It treats the air and circulates it all through the duct systems.
You need to remember that some RTUs do both the heating and cooling, some just heat, some just cool. Therefore, you need to be precise and sure about what you get.
RTUs come with rectangular heating. There is an air hood in the casing that brings the outside air in for air conditioning. This air is passed through rotating metal sheets that regulate the airflow and passes it over to the filters. From the filters, it is pushed through the coils. The coils then cool or heat the air. Finally, the fan sucks the air and blows it into the ducts. The ducts will then transfer the treated air to designated areas.
RTU’s indoor and outdoor units also collaborate to ensure the levels of CO2 indoors are maintained at safer levels.
PROS of RTUs
- Fully assembled from the factory,
- Zoned as each RTU can take care of heating and air conditioning to a specific area in a building,
- There are newer and more efficient models,
- Easy and cheaper to install,
- no noise,
- out of the way.
- Occupies a lot of space on the roof,
- Older models are less efficient
How Commercial HVAC Differs From Residential HVAC
As much as we said the functions of a residential HVAC system and that of a commercial HVAC system are pretty much the same, there are some distinct differences. And these differences will affect commercial HVAC maintenance and other services such as commercial ac repair.
We look at the differences in detail below.
Commercial HVAC systems condition and ventilate larger spaces than most residential systems. And as anyone would have guessed, the commercial HVAC systems are more extensive.
Many residential units have standalone units. On the other hand, commercial units are modular. In many cases here in use, residential units are up to 5 tons. However, the commercial rooftop units can go up to 50 tons.
And with size comes more power to condenser fans, compressors, evaporators, blowers and thermostats.
You will find the furnace in the closet, attic, or basement in residential buildings. The outdoor unit will be in the backyard or on one side of the house.
For commercial HVAC, there will be a utility room either in the basement or beside the building in some cases. It is also not uncommon to have it on the rooftop. These are for packaged systems or all-in-one types.
Commercial HVACs flush heat out of the building by bringing in cold air. This movement is through logic controllers or sensors. Normally, this is what is referred to as free cooling. The energy output is reduced through this and wear and tear. In simple terms, ventilation is reduced without overworking ventilation systems.
The economizer option is not available for residential systems.
Commercial HVAC systems consist of packaged units, all with their thermostats so that different indoor climates coexist well in one big building. This means that every zone, shop room or stall in a commercial building can customize what they want their climate to look like.
Yes, zoning is now a thing for residential systems. They are, however, not as distinct as those of commercial HVAC systems.
The ventilation of a commercial building is more complex. Typically, there are more windows per square footage in residential homes. And, opening the windows is a quick fix for ventilation.
However, mechanical ventilation and more fresh air intake are necessary for commercial buildings. This is because they do not have as many windows to support ventilation. Also, commercial buildings include gyms, restaurants, labs, and hospitals, which require proper ventilation to acquire acceptable indoor air quality.
HVAC systems draw humidity from the air during the cooling or heating process. This is then redirected to pipes or drips that eventually lead to a tray.
This is the same for both commercial and residential HVAC systems. However, the pipes and drains will be more extensive and complex for the commercial system.
Typically, the installation, repairs, and maintenance costs of a commercial HVAC will be higher. This will depend on different things such as the type of unit, the building size, the brand and even the business activities in the commercial buildings.
The cost difference will also be seen in the cost of running the systems.
As you would expect, commercial HVAC maintenance services will be costlier. An expert needs to come on-site with more expensive tools with commercial systems. Also, the equipment is much larger and often located in difficult-to-access areas.
Also, commercial HVAC systems needed more frequent technician visits than residential services. Having a technician visit twice a year would work great for residential HVAC maintenance. However, with commercial HVAC systems, we at HVAC Santa Clarita recommend that you have a technician with expertise visit at least quarterly. And even more notably, you need monthly filter changes for your commercial HVAC.
If you are looking for commercial HVAC maintenance services in Santa Clarita, we will be glad to get the work done for you. Feel free to contact us today.
Problems Associated with Commercial HVAC Systems
If you are getting commercial HVAC systems, you need to know what problems can face you. And even more importantly, you need to know how to handle these if they come up.
Read ahead to find the most common problems associated with commercial HVAC systems.
When your commercial HVAC system is short cycling, you will hear the compressor going on and off. This is the continuous rebooting of the compressor before the set cooling session is completed. Typically the heat pump and the air conditioner will run until the thermostat directs them to stop.
There are a few reasons short cycling happens. These include:
- blocked air filters,
- the thermostat on the fritz,
- leaks often cause low refrigerant.
You should always have a reliable HVAC company on standby, as short cycling is common with commercial HVAC systems. You will need to immediately call a professional when you notice your system is short cycling.
This is another common problem you will your commercial HVAC will most likely face. How will you watch out for leaking refrigerant? If you notice oil on the valves, service ports and connections of your air condition, that is a clear sign. Also, if the system is simply not blowing any air, that could indicate leaking refrigerant.
This is another problem you should always be prepared for even before it happens. If refrigerant leaks are n solved quickly, they lead to much more significant and costlier problems.
Do not hesitate to call HVAC Santa Clarita when you suspect you have refrigerant leaks.
Dirty Air Filters
You need to frequently change the air filters of both commercial and residential HVAC. However, commercial HVACs run for a longer time and serve larger spaces. Therefore, you need to change commercial HVAC air filters more frequently.
It would be best to change your commercial HVAC air filters quarterly to monthly, depending on usage. Dirty air filters expose the occupants of t building to harmful particles. Besides, they deteriorate the functioning of the evaporator coil. With blocked air filters, the air passage will be blocked. Negative air pressure will suck air through the holes, cracks, and gaps. This will eventually dirty the coils.
Dirty coils cannot perform their job effectively. First, the efficiency will go down. And it will work harder to cool or heat the building. These will eventually cut off years of your HVACs’ system lifespan.
Dirty Condenser Coils
It is not difficult to spot dirty condenser coils. If you have a split commercial HVAC system, the evaporator coil is in the building while the condenser coils are outside.
If you have packaged rooftop units, the evaporator and condenser coil are located together in containment, often on the rooftop.
The condenser coil helps release heat outside. They get dirty from the accumulation of dust, debris, leaves, animal hair, and other things. When they are dirty, the heat transfer is reduced. This means that your building can get unbearably hot on those hot summer days if you have a dirty condenser coil.
If the cooling of your building is deteriorating, feel free to contact us to give your condenser coils a check-up.
If your commercial HVAC is making noises, that indicates that there are issues. Usually, squeaking can be solved by simply adding lubricant to the motor.
The other possibilities of a noisy commercial HVAC include:
- vibration noise from an unbalanced fan,
- thudding noises from an encumbered fan,
- rattling noises from the blower
- Cluttering noises from loose ducts
- buzzing and hissing voices from leaking refrigerants
- booming voices from pilot light failure from the furnace
- whistling noise from a failing boiler
It is super important to turn off your commercial HVAC whenever you hear abnormal noises. The next step should be to immediately call an HVAC technician for a check-up.
A Malfunctioning Economizer
A good functioning economizer reduces energy consumption during cooling.
If the outdoor air is more relaxed than the indoor air and has lower humidity, a damper will open to collect the air for circulation into the commercial HVAC system. If the economizer is not functioning well for one reason, the air temperature sensors may fail. The dampers may eventually break down.
This is a common problem. Over 2/3s of commercial HVAC have malfunctioning economizers and end up consuming so much energy.
When the refrigerant converts from liquid to gas in the evaporator coil, moisture collects on the coil and creates condensation. Typically, the water is supposed to flow down the drain. However, the slime will build up without proper maintenance and eventually clog the drain.
If you have a clogged drain, the first thing you will notice is a stale smell and moldy air from the vents. The water build-up will also cause rust to different parts of your system.
Loose Evaporator belt
A loose belt gives the pulley a tough job. First, it starts by reducing the fan’s speed. Eventually, it will freeze the coil. If your evaporator coil is loose, it will not last long.
Watch out for noises or loss of airflow for signs of a loose evaporator belt.
Commercial HVAC System Maintenance
We have looked at the common problems that face commercial HVAC systems. It is not enough to know the problems. You need to know how to maintain your HVAC system and prevent its occurrence. However, your HVAC system is like any other machine. And, it will develop problems somehow no matter how well you maintain it.
The trick is just to be vigilant and religious with the maintenance. This will help you reduce the chances of serious repairs, unexpected breakdowns, and the need of having to replace them.
Why Commercial HVAC Maintenance is Important
You need to be vigilant with your commercial HVAC maintenance to enjoy the following benefits:
- Elongate the lifespan of the entire system: The commercial systems’ parts are interdependent. If one part is malfunctioning, it will affect the other parts. Malfunctioning and clogged parts also stress the heating and cooling parts more. This leads to quick wear and tear. Before you know it, you will have to prematurely replace your commercial HVAC system.
- Consistent good indoor air quality: with a well-maintained HVAC system, your commercial building will always have air free from harmful particles. Thanks to the always clean filters, coils, and blower parts, the air will always be fresh. Poor air quality is bad for all businesses but significantly worse for a retail business that largely depends on a positive in-store experience.
- Reduced costs: Proper commercial HVAC maintenance will help you reduce energy bills. Remember that preventive HVAC maintenance can lower energy costs by 40%(1). Taking good care of all parts will prevent them from working harder and consuming too much energy in the process.
- The HVAC systems of commercial buildings are complex. And, the needs vary significantly from one building to another. For instance, the needs of a nursery or a hospital will be entirely different from a mall or a restaurant. This is why you need a professional HVAC company to do the cooling and heating services for you. It is an excellent way to give your employees and clients a good experience.
- Our experienced team of HVAC contractors will always ensure your HVAC system mains in good shape at all times. We help you give your clients the best experience while on your premises.
Commercial HVAC Maintenance Checklist
Our commercial HVAC maintenance checklist looks like this:
- General monitoring for weird noises or smells
- Replacing dirty air filters
- Inspecting thermostat settings and operation
- Cleaning off dirt, dust, debris on all parts
- Checking wires and other electronic equipment
- Cleaning pans and drains
- Checking piping and other parts for corrosion or leaks
- Inspecting seals
- Inspecting air ducts and insulation
- Comparing heating and cooling bills from the previous years
- Scheduling professional maintenance
This is what our general checklist looks like. However, we customize individual checklists depending on the individual commercial buildings as they all need different maintenance services.
Commercial HVAC Frequently Asked Questions
A good functioning commercial HVAC is a necessary part of any commercial building. It s a critical way to make your occupants and clientele happy. However, many commercial building owners and managers still do not get it right. We, therefore, answer some commercial HVAC system FAQs to help you clear any doubts you could be having.
What is a commercial HVAC system?
A commercial HVAC system cools, heats and ventilates large spaces like businesses. They have more complex parts and operations as they work longer hours and serve large spaces.
Which HVAC system is best for a commercial building?
We often recommend single split systems for commercial buildings. They are affordable and suitable for commercial buildings that want to heat or cool places individually. However, it is vital to note that the most suitable type may vary. It is, therefore, advisable to consult with HVAC professionals to find out what suits the commercial building.
What size commercial HVAC system do I need?
To get the right size for your business, we highly recommend that you get an expert to do the work. This is because there is no room for making errors in this. You will lose a lot of money in the process.
However, to give yourself an estimate, use this simple message to multiply the square footage of the building by 25. Then divide the result by 12000 and minus 0.5. What you get equals the required no of tons of HVAC for your commercial space.
What is a Commercial Air Handler Unit?
An air handler unit or AHU is a vital part of a commercial HVAC system. The AHU is used to regulate and circulate the air that enters from the outside of the building. This allows the system to heat, cool and filter air as needed.
Commercial HVAC systems are enormous and sophisticated. Trying to figure them out can be daunting.
We are, however, here to assist you. HVAC Santa Clarita will be glad to help you understand how your commercial HVAC system works. And even more importantly, we will perform preventive maintenance for your commercial HVAC. We will stop at nothing less than ensuring your commercial building occupants enjoy the perfect indoor climate and indoor air quality. Give us that call today for top commercial air conditioning services!
SEE WHAT OUR FRIENDS HAVE TO SAY
We have been using HVAC Santa Clarita to service our grocery store. We are happy with this service as all has been going right. If you would like HVAC services for your commercial building, I highly recommend HVAC Santa Clarita.
– David, retail store manager.
I wanted my coffee shop to be somewhere people could meet and discuss business, have dates and even study! And I am glad HVAC Santa Clarita has helped me make that dream come true. Their scheduled maintenance service ensures the climate and ventilation are top-notch. I am glad that my customers, employees and myself can enjoy this.
– Anne, coffee shop owner
Having a nursery with many children calls for nothing but stellar air quality. The air has to be free from all sorts of harmful particles for kids. And, there are different cooling and heating needs from playing to learning to sleeping areas. HVAC Santa Clarita helped me execute this. I am glad that their maintenance services help ensure that the children are comfortable in the nursery. I recommend their services.
–Britney, Nursery owner.
Our restaurant’s air conditioning system always had an issue. It gets during the busy lunch hour. The place was packed and hot! We spent so much on repairs, and soon after, we were back to the same old issues. Luckily, we bumped into this company. They did the HVAC replacement, and their maintenance service is one factor that makes our restaurant a to-go place.
– Leila, restaurant owner
Getting a perfectly functional HVAC for our hotel rooms was always an issue. We wanted something that individual room owners could control, as sometimes, some rooms were occupied, and some were not. Also, different occupants had different needs. We are glad of the expert advice we got from HVAC Santa Clarita. We are happy, and so are our clients as they leave reviews of a perfectly functioning HVAC system.
– Eleonor, Hotel manager.
Our HVAC system broke down one weekend. We were so stressed as weekends are the busiest days for everyone shopping. Luckily, one of the boutique owners in the shopping complex put us in contact with HVAC Santa Clarita. They pulled through and helped us troubleshoot and fix the problem. Now we know who to run to whenever we have issues with our HVAC system.
– Mario, the commercial building owner.