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Is Your HVAC System Wasting Energy?

08-17-17 / / By JJ Johnson

It is often difficult for building engineers to identify signs of energy waste within their HVAC system. A lack of time or expertise can prevent them from properly examining their units and finding opportunities to save, but there are things you can look out for to keep energy costs from soaring.

Common Issues with Filter Sizing, Installation, and Maintenance

The most common issue that causes your HVAC system to waste energy is when filters are either the wrong size or not installed tightly. In either case, the issue will lead to air bypass in your HVAC system. Over time, the unfiltered air in the system causes evaporator coils to become dirty, which reduces filter efficiency, leaves equipment unprotected, increase the risk of breakdown, and can lead to costly HVAC repairs. Other common problems include facilities using the wrong type of filters, not replacing filters that have gotten wet, moldy, or blown through, misplacing clips that hold filters in place, or not repairing broken access doors.

Identifying the Issue

Consideration #1: If you want to get a better idea of what issues are affecting your HVAC system, the first things you should examine are the sizing and installation of your air filters.

Specifically:

  • Make sure there are no gaps allowing air bypass between filters or at the end of filter tracks
  • Check for bowing – when the air filter is bent towards the blower like it is being sucked that way – or other signs that filters are becoming worn out and need to be changed
  • Look for dirty evaporator coils. These are a sure sign that some part of the filter system is not installed correctly

Consideration #2: Air can bypass between and around the filters.  This bypass could result from the actual filters or the holding frames/track that the filters go in.  If there is a lot of dirt buildup in certain areas of the evaporator coil, that is usually a pretty good sign there is some bypass present.

Consideration #3: To ensure each filter is installed properly, you should make sure there is a proper gasket with a positive seal and no bypass, and that clips are applied where needed to hold filters steady.

Fixing the Issue / HVAC Repair

Once you have identified any issues in your system, it is time to fix the problems. This could involve:

  • Getting the correct number and size of filters
  • Installing a custom filter if needed to fill the track tightly and completely
  • Adding gaskets or clips to frames or filters where needed to prevent air bypass

The impact of air filtration issues on energy use is directly related to the heat transfer efficiency of the unit. If the equipment is dirty, partially blocked off from air flow, otherwise obstructed, then the compressor will have to work harder to keep the air properly conditioned—resulting in unnecessary energy use that adds to your facility’s operating costs. When you consider a large building with many units, the cost can be significant. Protecting evaporator coils with proper filtration will also decrease or eliminate the need to clean those coils, which is a significant labor savings year after year.

When you are ready to determine if your HVAC system is wasting energy, contact the pros at Quality Refrigeration. We can assess and maintain your current or new HVAC system and help you keep your commercial space comfortable.

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