Properly functioning HVAC equipment is absolutely vital to making the most out of the next three months of fun and sun.
When you come home from a long, sweaty day at the beach or baseball field this summer, you want your castle to be quiet and cool. And at work, a rattling air conditioning unit that can barely muster a lukewarm breeze just won’t cut it for you or your facility.
We asked Tim Kane, president of Goodway Technologies to give us the top eight things you can do to improve your HVAC system at home and at work.
1. Change Your Filter
This one’s the most obvious, and easiest, to do. Just check the old filter to make sure you’re getting the right size (snap a pic with your phone to be sure) and head to the nearest hardware or big box store.
“That alone can have a huge impact on your energy consumption and efficiency overall of the unit, Kane says. “When the blower is straining harder to draw in air, it’s not only using more energy but creating more wear and tear on the components.”
2. Clean Your Condenser
We’re sure Kane’s home air conditioning system is always pristine, but what does he see at his friends’ homes during the summer?
“When I’m at my friend’s barbecue, what I notice most are condensers with the bottom 6 to 12 inches loaded with clippings, dust, and mud,” the HVAC aficionado says.
“That can be easily cleaned out with the right equipment. It's something the homeowner can do with the hose and can dramatically increase the efficiency of the unit.”
A garden hose only impacts the debris, but Goodway has a tool for its CoilPro cleaning system, the Wonder Wand, that’s pencil-thin and shoots a jet of water streaming out at a 90-degree angle. Like a water pick for your air conditioner, it dislodges grass, leaves, and dirt from the coils and shoots back out, using only fresh water.
3. Don’t Use a Power washer
Maybe you’re spraying down your deck or driveway and you get tempted…
“Our data indicates that anything over 200 psi has the potential to bend the delicate fins that make up coil beds,” Kane says.
“Now you are permanently impacting the performance. These are designed by the manufacturer at the optimal angle to transfer that heat. As soon as you bend them, it’s like going from having a window open to a window shut. It’s much harder to draw in air.”
4. Check Any and All Cleaner Labels
“The other big don’t is using chemicals that aren’t designed for use on a condenser. A fair number are hazardous. Very carefully read the fine print of any chemical you are applying to coils," says Kane.
Damaging your equipment is one outcome, but so is harming the operator or the environment.
Kane says any cleaning chemicals Goodway uses are “mild,” because the “industry is moving away from harsh chemicals, so we’re not putting any R&D into it.”
A Goodway study indicates that 70% of HVAC workers considered operator safety “extremely important.”
“Some companies still may use products that I would consider to be somewhat archaic,” Kane says. “Most folks know it’s not safe to use, they’re still using them because they can be effective. But there are alternatives now that are way safer to use.”
5. Maintain Your Plant’s Cooling Tower
“The 800-lb. gorilla in the room has been cooling towers and their ability to develop legionella,” Kane reveals.
“That’s an issue that going to flare up in the summer because of the dreaded combination of a warm wet environment. It can grow quite rapidly. We get more calls for that than just about anything else.”
By using the TFC-200 Cooling Tower Fill Cleaner and ScaleBreak-Gel, maintenance specialists can destroy the limescale building up in the layers of fill that act as incubators for Legionella.
6. Descale Your Pipes
Kane says more than half of the inquiries coming into Goodway are related to hard water problems. Like with limescale fill, the calcium builds up and acts as an insulator in a boiler’s watertube system, impeding heat exchange.
“What they’ll know is they have a drop in performance, but they’re not sure why,” Kane explains.
"The water temperature may have been 140°F, now it’s only 110°F and the fuel bill has gone up.”
Kane recommends treating the water with chemicals, such as ScaleBreak.
“If you’ve got hard water, you’ve now got a calcium problem in any piece of equipment that touches that: pumps, heat exchangers, and transfer piping,” Kane says.
“Yes, it’s been talked about for 50 years, but it’s still the single biggest problem. Perform some mild preventative maintenance once a year, the problem goes away. If you don’t do it, five years later you’re going to have equipment that doesn’t work.”
7. Clear Out Soot
Boilers are often taken down during the summer for maintenance. One of the most effective methods to ensure the heating system is ready for another year is to clear out the boiler’s dry firetubes. An automatic brushing system will dislodge soot and ash, increasing the heat transfer and adding to the boiler’s lifespan and efficiency, Kane says.
8. Turn to Tablets
Hauling giant drums of chemicals to clean your plant equipment could end up putting undue stress on your back and you could end up spilling the bucket a few feet before you get to your destination.
Using tablets with the CoilProCC-200 coil cleaning system, a user can perform preventative maintenance on their HVAC and refrigeration coils with fewer hassles.
“I think you’re going to see more and more companies offering dry products,” says Kane.
“They eliminate possibility of spill during shipping or onsite.”