Preparing Your Building for Winter

10/30/2009 |

Proper preventive maintenance reduces costly repairs, extends equipment life, and increases tenant/occupant satisfaction

With summer nearly over and winter rapidly approaching, now is the time for building owners and managers to prepare for the winter. While starting up the heating equipment, the cooling equipment needs to be shut down properly to ensure that it starts smoothly next year.

Many companies often overlook the correct procedures for air conditioning shut down and merely just switch it off because it is not needed again for several more months. However, equipment that is not shut down properly may not be able to start up again. Similarly to the cooling systems, the heating systems need to be prepared in advance. It is more cost-effective to avoid emergency service calls during the really cold months and to have your equipment repaired before the heating system begins.

Preventive maintenance is the key to preventing these repairs. When regular maintenance is neglected, equipment life shortens, energy is wasted, and the building’s appearance reflects the lack of care. At GSH Group, we are committed to exceeding client expectations in the field of HVAC service, which translates to an efficient preventive maintenance program yielding year-round savings.

The following are effective tips to help building owners and managers get a jump start on the winter season:

  • Shut down of A/C equipment – Check all system pressures and operating temperatures, making sure there are no leaks that will be lost while shut down. Check oil levels and water levels. Drain down systems where required to prevent freeze up or possibility of becoming stagnant.
  • Start up of heating systems – Switch on all equipment and program set points to maximize operational attributes. Make necessary adjustments to water and oil levels where needed. Analyze all boilers performance to ensure that they will perform efficiently for the long winter ahead.
  • Cleaning of equipment – This is a part of A/C shut down and the heating start up. Debris build-up in an HVAC system is inevitable, but proper cleaning of all strainers and evaporator and condenser coils will ensure a cleaner and maximum flow of air and water. Also, the correct cleaning of flue combustion chambers and nozzles is necessary to ensure safe and efficient operation. Other pieces of equipment that should be cleaned are the evaporator and condenser barrels on chillers and cooling towers, which also need to be drained.
  • Replacement of belts and filters – In order to purify air streams and optimize fan performance, replace filters and belts, as well as realign belts.
  • Brief analysis and report on compressors – Perform an oil analysis on all compressors because lubrication is vital to properly shutting down compressors. With proper compressor oil, maintenance can be reduced and compressor life is extended. Conduct a balance report for critical fans and check refrigerant levels. Refrigerant levels are the key to operating the equipment efficiently. With the correct pressures the equipment will run as originally manufactured.

Proper maintenance for HVAC equipment will lead to the best possible outcome for your building, not only in the winter, but also throughout the entire year. Here are some benefits enjoyed by companies who have regular maintenance performed on their HVAC equipment:

  • Improved Comfort Conditions in the Building – With proper HVAC maintenance, comfort is achieved for building tenants, which leads to a more productive work environment.
  • Improved Air Quality – A well-maintained system will not only protect occupants from poor indoor air quality, but also protect the building or organization from litigation, adverse publicity, and potential code violations, which can have an impact on the bottom line.
  • Extended Equipment Life – A system that is properly maintained will experience fewer breakdowns and also the lifetime of the system will be extended, therefore not needing to be replaced until later down the line resulting in significant cost savings.
  • Cutting Costs – The periodic maintenance of your system will eliminate the need for costly repairs and yield immediate savings since there will be a longer period of trouble-free service.
  • Energy Savings – HVAC systems are typically responsible for more than 40 percent of total energy use. With proper maintenance, your system will work at peak efficiency, which can save a tremendous amount of energy.

Here at GSH, we provide full-service HVAC inspections, maintenance, repairs, and installations. We carry out full deficiency reports to ensure we start each season with full knowledge of the equipment, and we will alert you of any potential issues before they become critical and costly problems.

Steve Wallis is a branch manager for GSH Group Inc., an international building engineering and energy management provider with U.S. offices in New Jersey and Virginia. Wallis has over 11 years of professional experience in the HVAC field and preventive maintenance programs. For more information on heating start-up and air conditioning shut-down, or if you want GSH to look at your building, please contact Steve at 973-227-5515 or

Related Coverage