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The Importance of O&M

Posted on 4/14/2014 12:44 PM by Matthew Guarracino and David A. Bovard

These days, there are a significant number of options for advanced systems that supply and manage energy in commercial buildings and facilities. Since facility managers have an eye on the bottom line, it is recommended to look beyond the type of energy supply system chosen and to examine demand-side management systems, as well as maintenance methods employed throughout the equipment lifecycle.

The most effective and economical process to optimize a facility’s HVAC infrastructure, increase energy efficiency, and reduce lifecycle costs is by focusing on top-quality operations and maintenance (O&M).

O&M Program Basics

The proper methods for performing a thorough O&M program include diagnosing and inspecting equipment, identifying any necessary upgrades and repairs, and continuously monitoring all systems required. The goal is to effectively and efficiently support the life cycle of the facility by eliminating unplanned shutdowns, maximizing system operation, and realizing life-cycle cost savings.

Comprehensive and effective maintenance responsibilities include:

  • O&M plans for each piece of equipment
  • Equipment and system surveys, audits, and assessments (performance measuring and benchmarking)
  • Unique and successful troubleshooting strategies
  • Preventive maintenance (procedures and schedules)
  • Corrective maintenance (repair requirements)
  • Considered improvements and capital investment options

Many facilities have lost expertise in-house to perform the necessary analysis and diagnostics on their own systems to optimize O&M. If this is the case, owners should not neglect these areas and can chose to outsource optimization and involve energy management specialists.

Building owners who only apply minimal preservation practices to their buildings will be unsuccessful in maximizing the value of their investments. Buildings require a routine of continuous maintenance. When this is neglected, it can become more time consuming and expensive for improvements, installations, repairs, and replacements, which can compromise power generation.

By Matthew Guarracino, business development manager at J.M. Electrical Company and David A. Bovard, northeast regional manager director strategic partners at Spirax Sarco.  

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Cleaning Condenser Coils: A Commonly Neglected Practice

Posted on 4/9/2014 12:26 PM by Richard P. Fennelly

Condensor CoilsCommercial buildings of all types contain various plug-in cooling appliances, such as refrigerators, freezers, display merchandisers, vending machines, and ice machines. All of these appliances contain a condenser coil unit which is responsible for transferring the heat content of the air originally in the cooling enclosure to the atmosphere. Over time, these coils collect dirt and debris, killing the efficiency of the appliance.  Unless cleaned on a regular basis, every two months or so, one or more of the following can happen:

  1. Almost always, the appliance will consume more electric energy – about 5% to 10% for refrigerators and 15% to 20% for freezers.  This is an unnecessary yearly cost of about $100 to $200 per unit on a yearly basis. Multiply this by the number of units in the establishment, and it can easily amount to thousands of dollars.
  2. The appliance’s refrigeration system will run hotter and at higher pressures, ultimately causing compressor failure, leading to an expensive repair or replacement costs.
  3. The life of the appliance is often compromised leading to more frequent replacement costs.
  4. Inefficient operation of the appliance can compromise the steady temperature level needed in the cooled enclosure, leading to product spoilage with additional costs and safety issues.

How to Clean Condenser Coils

A preventive maintenance program where condenser coils are periodically cleaned is often not performed, even though manufacturers uniformly advise that it be done. Since these units are located in indoor setting, the use of large amounts of water and cleaning chemicals, useful for roof top coil units, is not applicable. 

Facility managers can use a combination of compressed air, to blast debris off of the coils, and a capture device to contain the debris. Typically, industry professionals use a set of wet towels draping the coils, a box lined with a wet towel, or a large plastic garbage bag placed adjacent to the coils. 

Instituting a preventive maintenance program that insures that self-contained condenser coil units are cleaned no less than on a quarterly basis will produce bottom line energy savings for the owners of the plug-in cooling appliances containing such units. 

Richard P. Fennelly is director of product development at Coilpod.

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