What Causes Inefficiencies in a Building’s HVAC System?

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Joel Geiman

A building’s HVAC system is rarely thought about unless something goes wrong with it. If the system is working as intended, most building managers and owners don’t even give them a second thought. It’s only when something goes wrong or breaks that help is called in to repair any part of the system. While this seems like a logical route to take—don’t fix what isn’t broken—building owners and businesses are losing out on billions of dollars in excess energy costs due to the inefficiencies of their HVAC systems. 

HVAC systems are a series of machines and other operational components. Like any other machine, they require maintenance to continue to operate at peak efficiency. Your HVAC system uses about 35% of the total energy in your building, so enhancing its efficiency can save you a lot of money over time. 

The Causes of Inefficiency in Commercial Buildings’ HVAC Systems

There are many causes of HVAC inefficiency in commercial buildings. These include:  

  • Broken or damaged exhaust fans 
  • Ducts with holes or air leaks 
  • Dampers that are not functioning properly 
  • Worn seals on fans, ducts, etc. 
  • Dirty and old filters 
  • Dirty or damaged coils 
  • Improperly sized ducts and/or filters 

Many of these issues lead to an HVAC system becoming imbalanced, which can result in negative building pressure, among other issues. Negative building pressure can be recognized by these signs: 

  • Drafts and hot or cold spots in the building 
  • Exterior doors that are difficult to open 
  • Poor indoor air quality 
  • Excess condensation buildup 
  • Mold and mildew growth 
  • Musty or stale odors 
  • An increase in utility bill costs 
  • Occupants feeling sick, coughing, and sneezing 
  • Dry and irritated skin 

It's also possible to measure the building’s air pressure and changes in air pressure using an HVAC monitor. 

It's Not All About Maintenance 

Even well-maintained HVAC systems can be inefficient if they were not designed and/or installed properly. Some newly constructed buildings have subpar HVAC systems that result in inefficient use of energy, poor air quality, and building pressure issues. That’s why building commissioning services are so crucial to HVAC optimization. These services start in the design phase of the building, helping to map out HVAC systems and ensure all the necessary components are included and installed properly.  

Commissioning services can also be done to existing buildings. Known as retro-commissioning, this process allows HVAC experts to improve HVAC performance and energy efficiency by analyzing building systems and correcting existing issues, whether large or small. This process can be repeated on a continual basis, ensuring the building’s HVAC system continues to efficiently use energy and cut down on HVAC utility costs. 


Need TAB or commissioning services in your building? Get in touch with our team for an exploratory call today.


Joel Geiman

About Joel Geiman

Since being brought onto the T&B team in 2016, Joel has transitioned from to the General Manager. He helps ensure the Melink T&B business continues to grow, innovate, and invest in Melink's "Best Place to Work" culture. Joel holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati and is an Engineer in Training (EIT or FE) in pursuit of his Professional Engineer license.