Is your commercial air conditioning unit working properly?

A business owner’s guide to understanding why their commercial air conditioning (AC) isn’t working or functioning at its optimum level, plus ways to clean it to prevent future damage.

When summer kicks in, the best way to prevent any dips in business productivity is to turn on your commercial air conditioning unit. However, after months of inactivity during winter, there’s always a chance your AC won’t work or will be running below its optimum level. This not only creates unrest among employees, but it can also cause your energy bill to shoot up.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you diagnose any unknown problems and carry out some quick fixes to keep your commercial air conditioning unit running smoothly during the British summertime.

How does air conditioning work?

Air conditioning units are made up of a compressor, condenser and evaporator.

Running through these components are chemicals, which convert from gas to liquid and back again. During this process of change, the chemicals transfer the heat from the air inside the premises to the air outside.

Signs that your commercial air conditioning isn’t working properly

Excluding the obvious reasons why your air conditioning isn’t working, such as no cool air coming out or your system isn’t turning on, there are some other tell-tale signs you should be looking out for.

Thermostat issues
Sometimes the thermostat causes unwanted complications.

One way to check whether your thermostat is the culprit for any issues is to check whether one part of the premises is cold while another part remains at the same temperature. Another sign is when you have your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) set for around 21 degrees Celsius, but it’s about 6 degrees off.

Moisture or leakage
If there are any leaks or moisture coming from your air conditioning system, it’s either one of two things:

  • The leak is refrigerant – an AC refrigerant leak is caused by holes or cracks in the coils that circulate the refrigerant. It’ll often make a hissing sound. If untreated, it can cause serious health risks.
  • Water pools – if there are water pools adjacent to your AC, this usually means the drain tube which disposes of the AC condensation is either blocked or broken. Although this isn’t as serious as a refrigerant issue, it should be fixed quickly to avoid the build-up of mould and rust.

Strange sounds or odours
Your senses are a good indicator as to whether your air conditioning is functioning at an optimum level or not.

Any squealing or grinding sounds coming from your commercial air conditioning implies that something is wrong inside the unit. A squealing sound is the most common bad sound, which suggests that a metal component inside your AC unit needs lubricating, while a grinding noise means the bearings are broken.

If your smell senses are being called into action due to a pungent scent, this signifies that the wire insulation has burned out inside your air conditioner. Whereas a musty, foul smell points towards a build-up of mould inside your ductwork/air conditioning pipes.

Electricity bill is through the roof
HVAC is one of the most expensive overheads for a business. If you notice an unusually high bill compared to a previous month, your air conditioning unit probably isn’t working efficiently. This is where it’s important to regularly service and clean the unit.

Poor airflow
If you’re noticing weak or little airflow through the AC vents, the unit’s compressor might have packed in. However, if you find certain areas of an office or room is getting cold while others aren’t, then there’s a high probability that the ductwork is experiencing problems – i.e. your air conditioning pipework. In which case, you should call an expert to remedy the issue immediately to prevent further damage to the commercial air conditioning system.

Another reason why there’s a poor airflow coming from your AC is due to the build-up of debris in the vents. Not only does this obstruct the airflow, but it also can create a health risk to your employees too.

How to clean your commercial air conditioning unit?

For health and safety reasons and to adhere to workplace regulations, you should aim to conduct a general clean on your air conditioning system every couple of weeks or after a long period of inactivity – e.g. after the winter months. Or for bigger changes, such as changing your air filters, every few months is sufficient.
Your commercial air conditioning unit cleaning checklist

  • Change the air filters – this has a positive impact on the long-term health of your commercial air conditioning system and is easy to do. We recommend you change them every two months to ensure efficient airflow and energy performance.
  • Clean the evaporator coil – every commercial air conditioning unit has an external evaporator coil which is vital to its performance and efficiency. When you don’t change the air filters or clean the evaporator coil itself, dirt can start to accumulate and cause problems.
  • Clear the condensate drain – to prevent moisture build-up within the unit, clear any dirt and debris from the condensate drain. This should be completed whenever you see any visual indication of moisture problems.
  • Check your AC ducts – look for any visible tears in your AC unit ducts. If there are none, turn the unit on full blast and inspect the duct joints with your hand to see if you can feel any air coming out. You should seal up any holes and tears manually.

Call for help
Maintaining an efficient commercial air conditioning unit and carrying out the necessary precautions to prevent unexpected repair costs is time-consuming.

If you’d prefer a professional to come in and help, Mid-Tech is here to help. We can conduct ongoing servicing and maintenance on your commercial air conditioning units, ensuring you stay compliant, cool and focused on other important elements of running a business.

To find out more, simply get in touch today or follow us on LinkedIn.

Need help with your Air Conditioning?

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