by Patti Dees

Common HVAC myths seem to offer creative ways for business owners to stretch their budgets. However many find that these misconceptions reduce efficiency and increase costs. The truths behind these 9 commercial HVAC myths show the real – and unexpected – impact.

Misconceptions in design, maintenance, and operation can sap an HVAC system’s efficiency and generate higher bills. Knowing why these myths fail opens opportunities to figure out real solutions.

1.  Bigger Is Better

Buildings are not going to “grow into” an HVAC system. Oversized equipment does not perform better or faster.  It does, however, create issues such as short cycling where the frequent turning on and off increases operation costs and wear on the equipment. Conversely, undersized equipment will be ineffective and can have a shortened life due to excessive run times. A properly sized system operates within the design specifications of the equipment, increasing uptime and decreasing maintenance costs.

2. Just Stick the Thermostat Over There

Airflow patterns and environmental conditions, such as temperature fluctuations from nearby equipment, impact thermostat placement. For example, remodeling can leave occupied spaces isolated from the location of the thermostat. The new airflow pattern can create hot or cold spots as the thermostat is no longer exposed to the conditioned air.

3. Efficiency – Guaranteed!

For many owners, it is easy to forget that HVAC is not a single piece of equipment but a system. This means that energy-efficient units may not meet expectations if other factors like duct leaks or excessive humidity are also not addressed.

4. If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

Routine maintenance, and better yet, preventive maintenance, does more than keep an HVAC system running smoothly. Owners of well-maintained systems find that repairs are not needed as frequently, and they tend to be less costly when they are required.

5. What Filter?

Filters tend to be forgotten, which can be a problem – or several. For such a simple thing, filters do a lot. They control microbes and odors for better indoor air quality, cut down on dust that could accumulate within the system, and impact efficiency by altering the system pressure. Setting a schedule for filter changes is a simple and important maintenance task and shouldn’t be shrugged off.

6. Catch ALL the Particles

If a filter catches dust and microbes, a denser filter can catch more of them, and that must be better, right? It’s not. Not only is it not necessary, but using the wrong filter can strain HVAC equipment as it works harder to move air.

7. Duct Tape Isn’t Magical

Duct tape, at least the kind most people know, is not actually for sealing ducts. Ductwork seams need to be sealed using mastic, foil tape, or other approved high-quality tapes. The approved materials are chosen for their ability to handle environmental temperatures, humidity, and system pressures that otherwise could lead to leaks.

8. Max It Out

Adjusting the thermostat to very high or low temperatures will not heat or cool a space more quickly. Thermostat setpoints control how often the system runs and for how long, not the speed of the results. HVAC equipment is designed to put out airflow within a specified range of volumes and pressures. Therefore, the time it takes to change the room’s temperature is not driven by the difference between the thermostat’s set point and the actual temperature.

9. A Tinier Box

Closing off vents or otherwise restricting airflow to create a smaller space for the system to control may seem like a logical way to save money. However, blocking off rooms and vents increases system pressure. Higher pressures create a less efficient system as equipment works harder to move air, and can even cause leaks to develop in ductwork, all of which costs more money, not less.

 Commercial HVAC myths can cause lasting damage to a building’s system. Reviewing design elements, as well as maintenance and operation practices can help identify other misconceptions. Contact the team at Therma for real solutions that lower costs and boost your system’s performance.

 Patti draws on her background as a chemical engineer to share information with readers on technology, manufacturing, and construction.


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