Your office or facility depends on numerous systems and appliances to keep it comfortable for occupants, including workers, administrators, and visitors. Your central air conditioner will be one of the most critical appliances in any such indoor space, which is why taking care of it is so important. However, central ac problems can affect even the most conscientious of owners, requiring accurate diagnosis and decisive action to avert issues that can cause uncomfortable working conditions and significant expenses. Learning about the most frequent problems that central air conditioner owners face in commercial environments can prepare you to deal with issues that crop up when you are attempting to run your system and allow you to deal with them as quickly as you possibly can.
The Three Most Common Central AC Problems for Commercial HVAC Owners
The following list details the three most common central AC problems we witness in commercial businesses. Keep an eye out to make sure you are not experiencing (or causing!) these problems in your facility, and learn what to do if you find yourself afflicted by any of them:
- No Preventative Maintenance. Air conditioners are sensitive machines. Like cars, they will not run forever if left unattended. In fact, you need to service your HVAC regularly if you want it to perform at peak levels over extended periods. It’s true that calling a professional for annual maintenance checks should be a part of your HVAC service, but there is also a great deal of preventative maintenance that you can take care of yourself between professional visits.
Many business owners do not wish to bother taking care of an AC by themselves, and their staff is not paid to do so. Even janitors and other custodial employees may neglect to care for an AC consistently. However, consider this: every residential HVAC owner understands that preventative maintenance is one of their responsibilities. Why should it be any different for commercial HVAC systems?
There are several simple things you can do by yourself to keep a commercial AC unit in good shape. Learn to clear the area around your outdoor unit periodically so that debris does not become caught in the blower fan or make its way into your ducts and ensure that the unit is always on a level surface.
- Soiled Air Filters and Blocked Ducts. The air filters in your AC are some of the most critical components in the entire system, but they are also some of the most neglected. Air filters should be changed once per month while the system is in use, to ensure that they can continue catching dust, debris and other material you don’t want entering the system and moving through the ducts into your office.
However, it can be extremely easy to forget that it’s time to change out AC filters (or clean them if you use reusable electrostatic ones). Many business owners do not bother to check the filters in their commercial HVAC systems, much less take on the responsibility of replacing them. An HVAC professional can replace the filters but calling professionals to your office once per month may become expensive over time. Instead, it is just best to change the filters yourself or entrust this responsibility to a competent employee.
When filters are not changed regularly, they can cause a wide range of undesirable effects. These may range from poor circulation and air quality to blockages in the ducts that can cause frozen coils and even affect major parts such as the compressor.
- Leaking Refrigerant. Refrigerant is the chemical that makes it possible for your air conditioner to cool your space. By undergoing various state changes, the refrigerant can pull heat from the air in your facility and transfer it outside as needed. The actual cooling process itself is considerably more complicated than that, requiring the use of many different components, but the point is: without refrigerant, your air conditioner can’t lower the temperature in your workplace. Even a slightly lower than average level of coolant can cause stress on the system resulting in efficiency problems—which means that refrigerant leaks must be taken extremely seriously.
The problem with refrigerant in many commercial HVAC systems is that finding the source of the leak can be difficult, due to the size of the system compared to those in most residential buildings. If you suspect that your AC system may be leaking refrigerant, it is best to contact an experienced and properly licensed HVAC technician immediately before continuing to use it.
The three problems listed above represent common concerns for commercial HVAC owners. Ensure that you are familiar with all of them, so that you can take appropriate steps to prevent them or deal with them if they occur at your workplace.