Commercial buildings commonly experience problems with airflow and temperature regulation. When these problems continue unchecked for any extended length of time, these commercial structures become more expensive to manage and maintain. They can even become less safe for anyone who works within them. Airflow and temperature regulation issues usually stem from a lack of air balancing within a building. So, how does unbalanced air adversely impact a building and the people within it? How can commercial building owners and managers balance their HVAC systems to make their buildings more comfortable and safer?
What Exactly Is Air Balancing?
A building's HVAC system must have sufficient airflow and functional HVAC systems in order to maintain clean air and comfortable temperatures. During the air balancing process, professional technicians perform tests and adjustments to HVAC systems to allow them to work efficiently and optimally based on the needs of the building.
The corrections HVAC technicians make to any system issue depends entirely on the problem causing unbalanced air. For example, they might replace a defective or worn-out motor or fan parts, adjust the fan speed or replace or adjust the system thermostat, or clean or install better air filters. Adjustments might also need to be made to dampers inside the ducts, or to the layout and sealing of the ducts themselves. All of this is done to allow the HVAC system to regulate airflow properly and optimally throughout the building. In some severe cases, technicians might even replace entire sections of ductwork, reseal duct seams, or conduct other extensive repairs. All of this is required during proper test, adjust, and balance (TAB) services.
What Causes Unbalanced HVAC Systems in a Commercial Building?
During the process of assessing an HVAC system's performance, technicians use special equipment to trace the pressure and speed of the air flow through the ducts and search for temperature fluctuations. They then map out and inspect every zone. This will help determine the root causes of imbalances in the HVAC system.
When a system is unbalanced, technicians could find any number of serious issues causing the problem. For example, they may discover poorly installed ductwork that's too small or large for the building or fitted wrong in spots, duct damage or even blocked sections that contain fallen ductwork, dirt, insects, animals or construction or other debris. They might find damaged air dampers or parts that fail to fit the ducts properly. They could even discover that someone installed filters that aren't the correct size or thickness for the system and building.
What are the Signs of Unbalanced Air and HVAC Systems in a Commercial Building?
A lot of red flags appear when a commercial HVAC system doesn't have balanced air and the system's efficiency plummets. The biggest sign is people's response to the indoor temperature. The building site manager or other leadership might experience an uptick in complaints about overly cold or hot spots in the building or high-humidity areas.
They could suddenly experience a lot of problems with low or uneven airflow from vents, sudden system shutdowns or air that feels or smells stale or bad. Typically, they see an increase in the electric bill. They might also discover a pattern of certain types of health-related complaints, such as breathing difficulties or sick-building-syndrome symptoms, or an increase in sick-day absences from workers who spend a lot of time in the building.
There are a few telltale signs of unbalanced airflow in a commercial building:
- Temperature fluctuations from room to room
- Unexplained increases in utility bills
- Poor indoor air quality
- Excessive condensation
- Mold growth
- High humidity
How Air Balancing Helps
HVAC air balancing does more than correct airflow and establish comfortable cool or warm temperatures, as the season dictates. It increases the efficiency and lifespan of the HVAC system and its parts so well that it decreases the risk of expensive emergency repairs related to system overheating. All while helping decrease utility bills.
The process of discovering and fixing the problem can improve air quality and health outcomes by reducing the amount of debris in the vents flowing out into the air and improving overall particulate filtering. Air balancing can even prevent immune system dysfunction from mold spores by both making the filtering better and reducing the dangerous humidity that mold needs to thrive in HVAC systems.
Think you have air balancing problems in your building? Looking to cut your utility and HVAC maintenance bills? Get in touch with Melink to talk about TAB Services in your building.