Keeping your HVAC unit running as long as possible is an important task for maximizing efficiency, cutting downtime and eliminating budget-impacting surprises. While many commercial industries utilize HVAC units, they often fail to take the proper measures to keep the units serviced. Failure to regularly service these units can result in loss of efficiency and surprise breakdowns that could cost the company a significant amount of money.
Whether you have a full HVAC system inside your commercial building or a unit heater for a greenhouse, maintenance is vital. There are general maintenance tips that can be followed to ensure the unit is providing the services it was designed to provide.
Aftermarket HVAC Protection
It is vital to protect the interior components of the unit to maintain efficiency. For units operating along the coastline or in heavy industrial areas, coil coatings are a necessity to keep the unit working properly. While factory e-coated coils provide maximum protection, the option to utilize the method isn’t always available.
“Aftermarket spray-on coatings provide superior protection against corrosive agents and keep HVAC units running at optimal levels,” said Daniel Fisher, director of sales and marketing for Modine Coatings. “That is why we can’t stress enough the importance of applying coatings to your HVAC units. It can be the difference between having a unit that operates efficiently year-round and one that breaks down after a few years.”
Spray-on coatings can also provide superior protection for circuit boards. These conformal coatings prevent circuit boards from shorting due to moisture and vermin. In addition, spray-on coatings can provide a layer of protection for the metal cabinets that surround the air conditioner. These cabinets are very susceptible to corrosion.
Aftermarket products can help prevent mildew and staining as well. Antimicrobial coatings, such as the ones provided by RectorSeal, utilize silver ions from the Agion® compound to inhibit the growth of bacteria, molds, fungi and other microbes and deliver long-lasting antimicrobial protection for a wide range of high-performance HVAC/R applications.
Coil and Coating Maintenance
To optimize HVAC protection through coating, coils need to be cleaned regularly. Most failures, either coating or coil failures, happen because the owner doesn’t perform any maintenance measures outside of just rinsing them with water. Whether it’s bare metal or coated metal, you must use the proper cleaner that is safe for the metal or coating. Fisher recommends owners develop a maintenance schedule that includes proper maintenance of the unit.
“All too often, HVAC units that could last up to 10 years are severely damaged due to the lack of proper cleaning and maintenance,” said Fisher. “Using the proper cleaner is just as important as developing a regular schedule. Once the proper cleaner is identified, regular maintenance and cleaning will keep your system running smoothly, efficiently and safely.”
Unit Heater Maintenance
Unit heaters provide a versatile option for heating areas such as warehouses, garages, workshops and greenhouses. These spacing-saving options allow contractors some leeway in heating a space at a relatively low cost. These units can hang from the wall or ceiling and require a single horizontal or vertical exhaust vent pipe to act as an outlet for combustion byproducts and flue gases.
While unit heaters are smaller in size than an entire HVAC unit, they still require upkeep and maintenance to perform at maximum levels. There are several things a basic technician can provide to ensure the longevity of the unit heaters. These include:
- Check the equipment including fans, wiring, gas pipes and venting systems for damage that may have occurred over time.
- Check and adjust the manifold gas pressure while also inspecting gas connections for proper fit.
- Check condensate lines on high-efficiency units. One also needs to check for any indications of condensate leakage as it could be a sign of improper unit operation or vent configuration.
- Inspect burner tubes and make sure rodents or insects haven’t nested in the burner.
- Make sure the motor shaft turns correctly.
- Check the power connections to the motor.
- Make sure the venting systems are free of obstructions and check the cap and cleanout.
“These proven strategies and maintenance tips are geared toward keeping your unit heaters working at optimal levels,” said Jamie Tuinstra, product manager at Modine HVAC. “For smaller work areas, such as greenhouses, these heaters provide plenty of value to the environment. But proper maintenance is the only way to ensure consumers get the maximum benefit of the units.”
Extending the Life of the HVAC Unit
Applying aftermarket products to HVAC units as a maintenance process not only protects the system from corrosive agents, but it also helps extend the life of the unit. Spray-on coatings help eliminate the loss of surface area on the aluminum fins inside the unit. As a consequence of cost-cutting measures, the aluminum fins have become very thin during production. The coating prevents the fins from decreasing in size over time. For untreated units, the loss of surface area can result in leaks in the coils and loss of refrigerant charge. Not only does the loss of surface area increase maintenance expenses, but it also creates more downtime for the unit.
In addition to aftermarket products, routine maintenance is needed to ensure the unit performs at maximum efficiency. Checking equipment for physical damage, cleanliness of the heat exchanger and burners, checking for obstructions, and a series of other steps will reduce downtime and keep the machine running smoothly. It is also recommended to keep a record of when the unit was last serviced to ensure a proper schedule is maintained. According to Tuinstra and Fisher, these steps will go a long way in helping ensure your system will be operating at high levels throughout the course of its lifespan.
Daniel Fisher is the director of sales and marketing for Modine Coatings. Modine Coatings is a division of Modine Manufacturing Company (NYSE: MOD). Jamie Tuinstra is the product manager at Modine HVAC. Modine, with fiscal 2021 revenues of $1.8 billion, specializes in thermal management systems and components, bringing highly engineered heating and cooling components, original equipment products, and systems to diversified global markets through its four complementary segments: CIS; BHVAC; HDE; and Automotive. Modine is a global company headquartered in Racine, Wisconsin (USA), with operations in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. For more information on Modine Coatings, please visit https://www.modinecoatings.com/. For more information about Modine HVAC, please visit http://www.modinehvac.com/.