Although the British summer has been its usual unpredictable self, it appears we might be in for a sustained hot spell, with Mediterranean temperatures promised in the weeks ahead.
It’s great for families on holiday or anyone with access to their own pool, but for workers across the country, it will probably create an uncomfortable office environment, with opening windows and electric fans likely to be insufficient ways to cool the air.
Which raises the question; “Is your air conditioning system struggling to cool the office as effectively this year as it was this time last year? And of course, the supplementary question that interests the finance director will be: “Was your energy bill this summer larger than last year’s?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then now would be a good time to schedule a service for your air conditioning. It might seem like everything is working as it should and maybe you’re not sure when it was last done, but it’s a good idea to have the AC system checked at least once a year.
It’s easy to forget about you’re A/C system, which in our temperate climate can see little work for much of the year, but the annual system check will save you money in a number of ways. Although new units are more energy efficient, even older ones will perform better once the condenser coils have been cleaned by an experienced engineer.
And just like shoes and cars, you will extend the life of your air conditioning units if they are regularly maintained, with small problems treated before they can become major issues and damage other components.
Emergency call outs can be tricky to fit in during hot weather, so a regular maintenance schedule goes a long way to preventing the need for emergency repairs and also helps keep units safe for use by employees.
Every air conditioning unit is different, but will benefit from the same basic treatment; a thorough cleaning and inspection of all parts; a check of the refrigerant level; make adjustments to control if necessary; lubrication of moving parts and testing of motors, fans and other essential components.
There are a whole set of rules governing the use of refrigerants, which can have serious consequences for the unwary, but more about the F-Gas regulations in my next blog.
Good service engineers will deliver a detailed report with recommended maintenance or repairs, which can be agreed at the time or booked for another time. Recorded system data will allow you to track the performance of your system over time and indicate when you might have to consider replacing units or the entire system.
HVAC filters need to be replaced regularly, some even monthly and the engineer will show you how you can change them yourself to keep units operating optimally. There are a number of different filter types; disposable fiberglass filters; pleated air filters which offer better filtration of smaller particles – good for those sensitive to allergens. They make the system work harder but an office full of streaming eyes and sniffling noses is not a pleasant or productive environment.
Electrostatic filters are washable and reusable, avoiding replacement costs, which use a static charge to attract particles. Electronic filters are the most expensive, but most effective option, using an electrical field to attract even the tiniest of particles.
So, whatever the system and whatever filters you use, schedule a check for air conditioning before the heatwave hits and the office is full of red faces and sweat-stained shirts – nice.