The world of HVAC repair and maintenance is something that the average consumer doesn’t think about very much until they have a problem with their heating or cooling system. HVAC, which stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, is a highly specialized field, that requires expertise and knowledge on a diverse array of HVAC systems and disciplines. The companies that work specifically on repairing and maintaining these HVAC systems are variously known as HVAC repair contractors, HVAC repair companies, or HVAC repair and maintenance services. The personnel who work as HVAC repair contractors, or as employees of HVAC repair companies or HVAC repair and maintenance services must have an excellent working knowledge of all the disparate HVAC systems and brands on the market today.
They must draw on mechanical and electrical engineering, electrical, plumbing, and related skills to problem solve, diagnose issues, and perform HVAC repairs, as well as preventative HVAC maintenance activities. It’s a competitive field, and dependable HVAC technicians with training and experience are well-compensated.
From the standpoint of a consumer, however, what most people want to know when they hire HVAC repair contractors, HVAC repair companies, or HVAC repair and maintenance services is that their problem will be identified and fixed, or that preventative maintenance is done correctly. They want to be sure they’re not overpaying or paying too little to someone who doesn’t know what they are doing. To that end, we’ve put together this guide to the basics of HVAC repair and maintenance companies. Below, we’ll highlight the differences between HVAC repair contractors, HVAC repair companies, and HVAC repair and maintenance services, look at the services they offer and what they do, highlight the distinction in the HVAC industry between residential and commercial services, and stress the importance of maintenance on existing HVAC systems.
It’s instructive to start at the beginning and understand the differences between HVAC repair contractors, HVAC repair companies, and HVAC repair and maintenance services, as well as full-service companies who offer both HVAC repair and installation services. That’s the best place to start. Many HVAC repair service providers are, in fact, full-service in nature. They offer design, planning, installation, repair, and maintenance of HVAC systems. That’s not to say that HVAC repair contractors, HVAC repair companies, or HVAC repair and maintenance services don’t also do the installation and related tasks. It’s just that most who advertise specifically as HVAC repair and maintenance companies tend not to be big on the up-front part of the business, especially the design and planning of HVAC systems. That can require a different skillset and equipment. The best bet is always to check with the HVAC repair services company you are considering to be sure they do everything you need them to do for your HVAC problem needs.
At the same time, within the realm of HVAC repair contractors, HVAC repair companies, and HVAC repair and maintenance services, there can be a bit of a difference. While not universally true, HVAC repair contractors and HVAC repair companies may be more limited and focus on the diagnosis and repair of HVAC problems, rather than on preventative maintenance as well. HVAC repair and maintenance services, as their name implies, always do both HVAC repair and maintenance. It tends to vary a lot by location and region, competition, and other factors. Many HVAC repair companies don’t call themselves by any of these names and go with more consumer-friendly names like “Joe’s HVAC Experts,” so you’ll have to do a bit of digging and research if you have any concerns about their capabilities.
Of course, what these HVAC repair services companies call themselves is less important than what they do, and the services they offer to consumers. HVAC repair contractors, HVAC repair companies, and HVAC repair and maintenance services, by definition, provide repair services for HVAC systems. That almost always includes heating and air conditioning, and sometimes other home ventilation systems as well (such as bathroom vents, water heater ventilation, and so on). The exact types of heating and cooling systems that a given HVAC repair contractor, HVAC repair company, or HVAC repair and maintenance service may work on or specialize in can vary. Most, however, are thoroughly versed and capable of diagnosing and repairing problems with pretty much all standard consumer-grade heating and cooling systems, regardless of the exact specs, brand, fuel type, and so on.
The services these providers offer fall into the repair and maintenance categories primarily. The tasks they most commonly called on for include:
Again, if you, as a consumer, have any doubt about whether or not a particular HVAC repair contractor, HVAC repair company, or HVAC repair and maintenance service works on the specific type or brand of heating and cooling equipment you have, it’s always best to check with them in advance. Most of the time, the answer will be yes – but better safe than sorry. You may also want to consider whether the HVAC repair company offers installation and replacement services, in case they find a problem that cannot be corrected, that requires the installation of a new heating or cooling unit.
It’s briefly worth mentioning that many HVAC repair companies, HVAC repair contractors, HVAC repair and maintenance services, and HVAC-related businesses, in general, tend to segregate their business into a residential and light commercial on one side, and heavy commercial and industrial on the other. That is because the systems, tools, equipment, and other variables related to large commercial and industrial systems are several orders of magnitude more significant, and often functionally somewhat different than similar systems for residential and small business customers. For example, replacing a large air conditioner for a big office building usually requires a crane or even a helicopter. That’s not something that most residential-style HVAC repair companies, HVAC repair contractors, or HVAC repair and maintenance services have in their arsenal and use daily.
As a result, you’ll want to be sure that any HVAC repair company you select matches up with the type of job you have, and the kind of client you are. For most consumers, that means a residential-focused company or an HVAC repair and maintenance company that handles both sectors. For businesses, it depends significantly on the size, scope of work, ownership vs. lease on the building, and other factors. But generally, you’ll learn more about those HVAC repair companies, HVAC repair contractors, or HVAC repair and maintenance services that are commercially and industrially-oriented.
Lastly, we want to focus on the importance and value of preventative maintenance when it comes to HVAC systems. As any competent professional from HVAC repair contractors, HVAC repair companies, or HVAC repair and maintenance services will tell you, a little inspection and preventative maintenance can be the difference between your HVAC system working when you need it and failing to work. You want to know that when it gets cold, and you turn on your heat, everything is safe, functional, and will deliver the heating you need without issue. Likewise, for the warm summer months, when you want reliable air conditioning on demand. By spending a little money and setting up a preventative maintenance appointment with an HVAC repair contractor, HVAC repair company, or HVAC repair and maintenance service, you have the best chance of having a smooth season of cooling or heating without encountering any issues.
At the same time, preventative HVAC maintenance is incredibly essential to ensure you get the most out of your heating and cooling or ventilation systems. Most home heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems cost thousands of dollars and are designed to last for at least ten years. But that assumes regular preventative maintenance. An annual HVAC inspection and maintenance tune-up on either your heating or cooling system, executed by a professional HVAC repair company, HVAC repair contractor, or HVAC repair and maintenance service can help to ensure your equipment lasts at least that long and more prolonged. Spending on preventative maintenance, to extend the life of your HVAC equipment by 25%, can give a net savings of thousands of dollars over the life of the HVAC appliance. And it’s hard to put a price on uninterrupted heating, ventilation, or cooling equipment when you need it most.
HVAC balancing is crucial for developing an energy-efficient, healthy, pleasant indoor microclimate. To determine the optimal air and water system balance and to implement the appropriate systems that regulate that, it is usually required to undergo the process of commissioning. Commissioning may be a complicated process, so hiring an HVAC balancing and commissioning services provider to take care of the problem is a worthwhile investment. Installing systems that regulate the air-water balance, plus determining the balance point requires several formal processes and formal documentation. These, in turn, guarantee a safer and healthier environment as well as making the regulatory processes in the building more accessible, understandable. Those tasks, professional HVAC balancing, and commissioning services providers will be able to handle.
This article serves as a guide to HVAC systems, the different aspects of air-water balancing, and the different types of commissioning services a client may require. It will also explore what kinds of services may be involved and entailed.
HVAC - Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. An HVAC system consists of various parts and equipment that is supposed to regulate air-water balancing. It is best to implement that equipment during the construction of a building. As mentioned earlier, proper air-water balancing best achieved after professional commissioning. The type of commissioning service required for air-water balancing is often called HVAC commissioning.
While taking on a commissioning service as part of HVAC maintenance is already beneficial, it is likely it will become a legal requirement in many parts of the world. Homeowners, landlords, and site owners for commercial properties will all be legally responsible for their HVAC systems and correct air-water balancing, whether they hire professional HVAC commissioning services or do it themselves.
Professional HVAC commissioning service experts should be hired when the examination required for the benefit of people’s health. For example, in hospitals. In these places, air-water balancing can affect the risk of spreading the disease by manipulating the airflow. In cases like this, qualified HVAC commissioning professionals should be hired to ensure the job is done correctly, without risk to patients or anyone else.
HVAC commissioning services include gathering data for the room and determining the specific needs of the building, depending on its type. Things, such as the previously mentioned required airflow in hospitals, are specific to this type of building. A professional air-water balancing assessment will highlight where a room or structure may be lacking in this regard.
HVAC Commissioning Services differ depending on the stage of construction the building is in, as well as the condition and type of the HVAC system. There are three main types that professional commissioning service providers will be able to carry out, which are listed below:
Initial HVAC Commissioning Services
This type of HVAC commissioning takes place in a pre-existing building with a newly-installed HVAC system. An Initial Commissioning Service may also be used to weigh up air and water balancing during the construction of a new building.
Retro-Commissioning is carried out on a pre-installed HVAC system in an existing building. That only applies to pre-existing HVAC systems that require commissioning services.
This type of commissioning applies to HVAC systems that have already been commissioned in a pre-existing building. Initial or Retro-Commissioning Services are recommended when they are appropriate, and then Re-Commissioning can take place after that.
In short, this could also be considered general air-water balancing maintenance and will be the most commonly-required when providing HVAC commissioning services.
Air-water balancing can, therefore, be achieved in any stage of the building with both already commissioned and a new HVAC system if a proper commissioning service provided.
Testing, Adjusting, and Balancing, also known as “TAB,” make up a single process applied to HVAC equipment to achieve correct air-water balancing. It required to ensure adequate functionality of a building, and most HVAC commissioning services providers will be able to conduct it.
TAB mainly involves testing different aspects of HVAC equipment, such as motor rounds per minute (RPM), plus balancing the power supply of the HVAC system. Differences in air pressures internal and external to the building can cause odors to come in from outside, as well as difficulties in pulling doors or slamming doors.
After testing, customers should receive a TAB report, which must be approved by the owner to make the appropriate adjustments.
Heating systems are a significant part of any HVAC system as they provide the necessary energy to keep a comfortable temperature and can also affect air moisture. Air-water balancing professionals will be able to determine how the heating system works, where the heating energy more or less needed. That is dependent on both the type of building and the result of the Initial or Retro-Commissioning Services.
For example, air conditioners can severely impact air moisture; therefore, to achieve the ideal air-water balancing, radiant heating might be a better solution for residential properties. Air heating systems might be used as well, but they often require an additional system that regulates the air moisture such as a dehumidifier and humidifier or other humidity regulating devices.
Advanced ventilation systems are more frequently used in larger buildings, while residential buildings may often use only small ventilation units for bathrooms and kitchens. While not required, the ventilation system is also highly recommended for residential buildings. The air-water balancing service specialist will be able to give a recommendation following an inspection as to where if at all, ventilation would be best to fit. Even small ventilation units may be able to regulate steam, moisture, and odors.
Larger buildings, however, require proper ventilation systems due to a higher number of people in the environment. Any halls and venues that allow smoking or are based underground should have advanced ventilation systems primarily for health and comfort reasons.
The designing of a hospital room is more demanding as they need to provide a hygienic and comfortable environment for patients. While creating an even air pressure in the building and setting in the right relation to the outside air is beneficial for patients themselves, there is another aspect of air-water balancing that is directly beneficial for everyone in the building. Manipulation of the airflow in the hospitals can impact the risk of spreading diseases.
Some patients, such as those with chronic rheumatic conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis, require a stable air balance in their homes. That is because a difference in pressure can cause air to be unstable and move in such a way that causes pain in people with such diagnoses. Professional air and water balancing, and commissioning services providers should be hired in these cases, as they will be able to cater to the patients’ needs.
The benefits from the HVAC balancing and commissioning services are not reserved just for residents and visitors. There are also benefits to homeowners, landlords, and company site owners as well. The qualified pros will produce formal reports and documents that allow owners to adjust buildings accordingly, to improve functionality, efficiency. This documentation will also give an insight into how the HVAC systems should work.
After obtaining such information, owners can more easily identify any malfunction and act on it correctly. The re-commissioning process is something that is advised to be regularly conducted, to continually provide the best possible insight into the installed system’s functionality.
The legal obligation to conduct commissioning of the HVAC system also gives the benefits as if the commissioning service company or individual provides proper air-water balancing that will often improve the overall standard of living and HVAC system efficiency and functionality.