What is an HVAC System, and What Does HVAC Service Include?

HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. These dedicated systems are essential to the heating and cooling of both residential and commercial buildings to improve comfort and maintain healthy air quality conditions for all occupants. HVAC systems are critical to residential structures like single-family homes and apartments buildings, as well as large industrial and office buildings like factories, warehouses, retail, institutions, and skyscrapers.


Heaters are appliances that generate heat for a building. Heating is accomplished via a central system fueled by various sources, including solid fuels, liquids, gases, and electricity. These systems contain elements such as boilers, furnaces, or heat pumps to heat, water steam, or air in a central location such as a furnace room or mechanical room.  Heat can be transferred by convection, conduction, or radiation. One of the most common technologies, the heat pump, gained popularity in the 1950s and works by extracting heat from environmental air, building exhaust air, or ground. Initially, heat pump HVAC systems were only found in moderate climates, but improvements in low-temperature operation are leading to increased popularity in cooler climates, as well as to cool interior spaces.


The “V” in HVAC refers to the ventilation process – that is, exchanging or replacing the air in a space to improve and maintain indoor air quality. The aspects controlled by a ventilation system can include temperature management, oxygen replacement, control over moisture, odors, smoke, heat, dust, airborne bacteria, carbon dioxide, and other gases. Ventilation refers to the intentional delivery of outside air into a building environment and is critical to maintaining healthy and comfortable indoor air quality in buildings.


Air conditioning systems provide cooling and humidity control to all or part of a building. Air conditioning and refrigeration are achieved through the removal of heat using radiation, convection, or conduction. Typically, fresh air from outside enters through a system vent into an air mixing chamber, followed by a heat exchanger where the air is cooled and is guided to a specific space to create positive air pressure. The percentage of return air consisting of fresh air is usually manipulated by adjusting this vent.


What’s Included in an HVAC Service?


HVAC services and plans are comprehensive checks performed by licensed service technicians. The technician carefully inspects the HVAC system for signs of leaks, electrical and wiring issues, and efficient thermostat operations. In the wintertime, maintenance may include checking heating elements, pilot light, thermocouple, limit controls, burners, and safety systems. These services keep HVAC systems working efficiently and ensure that building occupants enjoy a comfortable, healthy airflow. Between scheduled services, additional maintenance may include filter changes, condenser, and evaporator coil cleaning, and keeping blower units clear of debris.


During routine checks, technicians monitor amperages and voltages of blower motors, condenser fan motors, and compressors to manage strain and wear and avoid potential issues. If a motor or compressor is overamping, a technician can determine why, take care of the problem, and help prevent future issues. Beyond that, technicians can secure electrical connections and clear condensate lines to prevent leaks.


How Often Should You Service a Commercial HVAC System?


While it seems like a straightforward question, the truth is that every building and HVAC unit is different. How often they require service and maintenance depends on various factors. Commercial HVAC technicians look at five main aspects when determining the frequency of maintenance:


  • Age of existing equipment
  • Demand on cooling and heating system
  • Building lease requirements
  • Type of HVAC equipment
  • Frequency needed for filter changes

Depending on the state of each factor above, the frequency that your system requires preventative maintenance will vary. If you’re not sure, contact APEX for comprehensive commercial HVAC support and bulk duct fabrication solutions.


When is it Time for a New Commercial HVAC System?


There are three main clues that suggest it’s time for a new commercial HVAC system:

  1. The Department of Energy recommends commercial HVAC units get replaced every 10 years. With routine maintenance, a 15-year lifespan is undoubtedly possible, but situations will vary depending on usage.
  2. Inconsistent indoor temperatures are another sign of potential HVAC problems. Inconsistent temperatures can be caused by various factors but typically indicate an existing HVAC no longer has the power to distribute air evenly throughout a building. This problem is inevitable as units age and is quickly solved by replacing the unit with a more modern one.
  3. Poor indoor air quality is the final telltale sign that it’s time for a new HVAC system. As units become covered in dust, mold, and mildew, air quality is reduced and becomes much more apparent during warmer months.

If you’re experiencing any of these issues with your existing HVAC system, your property likely needs routine service and maintenance at the least. One of the best ways to avoid potential problems in the future is by relying on an experienced commercial HVAC fabricator and maintenance specialist, such as APEX, for all your commercial HVAC needs.


Large-Scale vs. Small-Scale HVAC Services


Residential and commercial HVAC systems serve the same purpose but can vary dramatically in terms of parts and mechanism. Commercial HVAC units are much large than residential units, as the demands of serving larger spaces are that much greater. The power consumption of each unit also varies accordingly. Residential units are typically located outside of the building, while commercial HVAC units are often placed on a building’s roof. Roof placement helps reduce noise pollution and saves significant space within the property.


Commercial units are generally more complex to accommodate various types of buildings, occupant numbers, and more. Residential systems only require a single drainage pan, and commercial systems typically utilize multiple pipes and pans to ensure complete evaporation and eliminate the risk of overflow. In terms of manufacturing and installation, residential HVAC units are designed and installed as a single unit, while commercial systems are modular and more complex.


Get Dedicated, Expert Support for Your Commercial HVAC System


Whether your building’s HVAC system is failing, aging, or simply in need of routine maintenance, you can rely on APEX for comprehensive commercial HVAC and bulk duct fabrication solutions. Get in touch with us today to discuss your HVAC needs.