HVAC Systems Should Be Checked Prior to Reopening After COVID-19

Reopening commercial buildings can be problematic if the building owner/manager is not having the HVAC and building systems checked and restarted properly. The building’s systems should be inspected, started up and functionally tested in the same way a new construction would. This is one of several key points from the recent article “HVAC Systems Should Be Checked Before Buildings Reopen, Due to COVID-19” by The ACHR News. In the article, The ACHR News talked with M. Dennis Knight, a member of ASHRAE’s Epidemic Task Force, about how contractors can best help commercial clients ensure their HVAC and building systems are running safely and efficiently before people begin returning to work. Now more than ever, building owners and managers need trusted advisors, such as highly skilled HVAC contractors and service providers. These resources can be a valuable asset when planning to re-occupy a building after a shut down period or period of minimal system use.

Why Does a Shut Down Building Need HVAC Inspection/Maintenance Before Reopening?

There are a few important reasons to have building systems inspected and properly maintained before reopening for business

  • Some local building authorities require systems to be inspected and maintenance performed before reopening. This is especially true of high-pressure boilers, steam generators and life safety systems like fire alarms.
  • Essential to check all water and air distribution systems for signs of leaks, accumulation of debris/dust, damage to insulation systems and for signs of fungal growth in drain pans, on coils, inside casings, inside air distribution devices and on ceilings or building finishes.
  • On all air systems, inspect outdoor air intakes to clear them of any debris/obstructions, check bird and insect screens and verify control dampers and actuators are functioning throughout their full control range. For control valves and actuators, make sure damper seals are intact, ensure bearings are lubricated, verify that drive belts are in good condition and correctly adjusted and that variable-speed drives and direct drive fans are working properly.
  • It’s recommended that boilers and chillers are never turned off. Standing water grows stuff and stagnant, dirty water costs more to pump, leads to decreased efficiency, fouling of heat exchangers and coils, microbial corrosion and reduces the lifespan of the system’s components. It’s also vital to check water quality upon start-up.

Lack of Maintenance Prior to Start Up is a Safety Concern for People Returning to Work

A lack of maintenance and inspection prior to restarting shut down systems can be a safety concern for the people returning to work in that building. Inspection and maintenance of a shut down building should begin one to two weeks before the official reopening of the building. In the article, Knight says, “I recommend that routine maintenance continue throughout a shut down or unoccupied period. I also suggest that expanded maintenance efforts to prepare a building for re-occupancy begin one to two weeks before the date planned to open the building to reduced or normal occupancy levels.”

It’s important to Carolina Cool to be a trusted resource for building owners and managers during this time of transitioning people back into their workplaces. If we can be of assistance to you in restarting your building systems properly, please give us a call.

To view the entire article and learn more information, visit <https://www.achrnews.com/articles/143102-hvac-systems-should-be-checked-before-buildings-reopen-due-to-covid-19>