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Top 5 Common Issues With Commercial HVAC Systems And How To Fix Them

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Commercial HVAC systems tend to be incredibly sturdy, more so than those installed in residential homes. But they're not immune to problems. If your business isn't cooling like it should or your HVAC system is not working at all, you probably want to know what you can do to address the problem ASAP. Here are five of the more common issues with commercial air conditioning systems and what can be done to fix them.

Fan Damage

Many commercial HVAC systems are placed inside a housing component and installed on the roof, and that includes the fan. Because it's out of the way and isolated, it is protected from certain kinds of damage. However, depending on how high your roof is, wind and storms can carry dirt and debris up there where it lands inside the cabinet and gets caught up in the fans. On occasion, this can damage the fans or prevent them from running altogether.

While you can't stop Mother Nature from doing her thing, you can schedule routine maintenance and inspections with an HVAC contractor to pick up on potential issues.

Leaking Seals

In a commercial HVAC system, mechanical seals create a barrier at the junction between a moving part and a non-moving part. Seal faces are components that allow the parts to move while still protecting against wear and tear as well as leaks.

Problems can occur when the pump or compressor overheats. This can cause the seal faces to expand and crack, ultimately leading to leaks. One of the best ways to protect against this is by ensuring the seals around the pump are adequately lubricated. This will better protect them if the pump or compressor does overheat.

Common causes of compressors overheating include a faulty fan motor, dirty condenser coils, refrigerant overcharge or undercharge, dirty air filter, clogged capacitor, loose connections or corroded wires and terminals, and bad compressor valves, among others.

A skilled contractor can make sure all moving parts are properly lubricated as well as inspect for issues that can lead to overheating.

Over-sized Units

If your HVAC system is too big, you're not alone. According to the Consortium of Energy Efficiency, 25 percent of all commercial systems installed are over-sized. However, this is often done on purpose in order to meet code requirements as over-sized systems are often necessary to meet load and cooling demands. Because of this, problems occur when the unit is too over-sized.

When this happens, the system ends up shutting on and off too frequently, and this can put unnecessary strain on the system and wear out parts too quickly. Ultimately, this reduces the life expectancy of your commercial air conditioning.

Fortunately, you don't necessarily have to replace your whole system if size is the root of the problem. You might just need to adjust the system. A contractor can do a quick check to see if the building management system is responsible for frequently turning off the boilers and pumps, thereby preventing everything from working together as they should. Sometimes all it takes is a manual tweak to resolve the issue.

Pump Shaft Damage

If the system becomes overloaded or imbalanced, it can strain and damage the pump shaft. When this happens, your air conditioner may stop working altogether. Most of the time, an imbalance is caused by excessive heat. So once again, preventing overheating is key here.

Your HVAC contractor can inspect for pump shaft damage by glancing at the color, inspecting the belts and pulleys in the system, and looking for other signs that the system is being overworked.

Thermostat Issues

Most businesses use multiple thermostats for different parts of the building or different zones. If you notice that one part of the building feels warm while it's perfectly comfortable everywhere else, more than likely it's an issue with the thermostat. The problem could be something as simple as a dirty thermostat, but it could also be in a bad location. Either way, it's best to have an experienced repairman tackle these issues. 

Contact a company like Ragan Mechanical Inc when you're ready to have a professional diagnose your commercial HVAC issues.