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Keeping the air flowing this autumn

Decent air circulation is an essential first step in every effective ventilation system. It ensures adequate indoor air quality in a building because it enables stale, polluted air to be removed from the space and fresh air to be supplied to it. Poor air circulation can lead to hot or cold spots, drafts, bad odours, and condensation which negatively impact on building occupants’ health and comfort.

And yet, airflow concerns are among the most intractable HVAC problems in commercial buildings. This begs two important questions in regard to HVAC system design: What are the causes of poor airflow in buildings and what are their solutions?

Autumn leaves effect air flow

At this time of year, leaves can prove a particular problem, causing issues at the first layer of air ingress from the outside. Leaves and other debris can lead to clogged filters, blocked or leaking ductwork, dirty coils, and obstructed vents.

  • Clogged filters – When a filter is obstructed, the airflow is reduced significantly. This means the system must work harder to pull in the right amount of air which, in turn, causes the system to use more energy. This leads to faster wear of components and higher energy costs.
  • Blocked/leaking ductwork – Common causes of blocked ductwork include stuck dampers and physical impediments such as dust, dirt, and other detritus. Meanwhile, a HVAC system could potentially be losing up to 30% of its air due to duct leakage through holes or cracks. Both of these conditions will result in reduced airflow for heating and air conditioning leading to higher costs and wasted energy. This is why it is important to arrange for ductwork to be inspected and cleaned regularly.
  • Dirty coils – Coils are unable to transfer heat effectively when covered with dirt, dust, and other debris. In extreme cases, dirty evaporator and condenser coils can cause a catastrophic failure of the entire air conditioning system because they can make it difficult or impossible for the system to absorb and dump heat. Regular cleaning – ideally twice a year – should negate this problem.
  • Obstructed vents – The resistance that a clogged ventc auses the air conditioning system will cause it to draw more power (and therefore cost more in higher fuel bills), and stress both the electrical and mechanical system, leading to greater wear and tear, and therefore more malfunctions. Ensuring adequate airflow through vents, especially in offices, requires them to be free from obstructions such as furniture.

It is critical to keep on top of all of these issues – If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms, it makes sense to have your unit checked by a HVAC design expert.

However, the control of air circulation is not only within the ventilation system itself; it begins as air enters the building.

The air intakes – often located on the roof of a commercial building – must be clear of obstacles if they are to operate efficiently. Leaves and other detritus can block the air intake.

Condenser and evaporator coils are normally left unfiltered, leading to a build-up of seasonal debris such as leaves and pollen. ECEX, however, offers a solution – coil filtering in the form of Air Intake Screens, which extends the life and increases the reliability of coils.

ECEX Air Intake Screens are long lasting, weather-resistant filter mesh products which fix to external intakes on air handling units, chillers, and condensers. This protects coils before any airborne debris can clog the fins and reduce the efficiency of evaporator or condenser coils.

The Air Intake Screens pre-filter outside air and to ‘catch’ detritus. By moving the airborne debris to a position in which it can easily be removed (using a soft brush, hose, or vacuum cleaner), ECEX Air Intake Screens provide a simple retrofit protective option for on-site equipment.

As well as saving energy and reducing maintenance demands, ECEX Air Intake Screens also help extend the life of coils and ensure they continue to operate at optimal efficiency.

Furthermore, they boost energy efficiency because the fans need not work harder to overcome the effects of blockages. They also reduce maintenance requirements, largely for the same reason, and they ensure the cleanest possible air enters the building, improving the health, safety, and welfare of occupants.

For more information about ECEX Air Intake Screens, click here.

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