What is HVAC?
HVAC stands for Heat, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. HVAC systems’ job is to regulate the heat flow, airflow, ventilation, and air conditioning in a building. Unlike other construction elements like walls, slabs, beams, or columns, you won’t necessarily see the HVAC systems directly upon entering a building. Still, you will feel the presence of a relaxing and well-ventilated environment. A good construction management system will always prioritize the planning of HVAC systems.
Ignorance of HVAC and Arising Problems
The prime contractor, who is awarded the general contracting responsibilities, often gives considerably less importance to HVAC systems during the schedule building phase. They regard it as something that could be done at the end or without proper planning. Some might not even include it in a project scheduling software. This is a wrong move on their part and can cause many problems for the client in the future. The vendor or Subcontractor for HVAC should mostly be a party specializing in this domain and incorporates the HVAC planning in its project management software. Some common issues that might result from said ignorance or by using cheap quality HVAC systems are mentioned below:
1. Low Air Quality
A lot of clients who became victims of poor installation of HVAC systems reported that their buildings/houses’ ventilation was poor. A restricted flow of air might be due to multiple reasons, out of which the most common is the clogging of air filters. If the air filters installed are cheap, they tend to get overloaded very quickly and freeze up.
2. Leakage of Water
Most often, the maintenance crew would be called to handle water leaking from ducts or overflowing drains. These are mostly caused by the condensation that takes place when ice from frozen components melt. This happens when your HVAC is turned off when inactive; the melted ice starts flowing out of the unit. Letting the water continue overflowing like this can cause the surrounding walls and paint to get damaged. The situation would then be harder to control.
3. Unable to Cool the Building
Often in summers, clients complain about the failure of the HVAC system to cool the building even though it’s running. This is due to the lack of a substance called refrigerant that plays a significant role in providing cold air from the air conditioner. If a low-quality HVAC system is installed, then the chances are that the system might use up the refrigerant inefficiently and cause it to finish up sooner.
4. Dirty Smell
If a client experiences some weird odor coming from the building or if the employees experience mild headaches and nausea after working, chances are that your heat exchanger is the problem. You need to check for standing water or any other sort of smell causing impurities near the heat exchanger.
5. Wiring Problems
Often the HVAC systems would stop working or unexpectedly turn off. The most probable cause is a blown-out circuit. If this happens quite often, that means the HVAC system’s wires are of cheap quality and cause the circuit to blow up. This is another problem that arises from poor installation of HVAC systems. These low-cost wires can also cause the thermostat to malfunction and start causing problems.
6. Loud Air Vents
A lot of times you’ll hear strange and weird loud noises coming from the HVAC system. This might prove to be troublesome. Loose ductworks and connections commonly produce these noises. If the ducts weren’t properly installed during the installation and planning, this problem might arise in the future. These ducts should also be well insulated since these ducts’ expanse and contraction can cause pops and bang noises.
Selecting the Best HVAC Contractor
Choosing the right HVAC vendor is one of the essential steps in a project’s HVAC planning phase. A checklist should be maintained to select a contractor that fulfills all the requirements and see the type of subcontractors to avoid. To find the best vendor for your project:
- Prepare RFQ and receive quotes from at least 4 subcontractors.
- Talk to them on the phone to get a general idea about their attitude and their past experience.
- The subcontractor should have a proper crew management system and a crew that possesses expertise in this domain.
- Ask them for at least two references of clients they’ve worked within the past.
- Take a guarantee of proof of insurance for personal liability, compensation for workers, and damage to property.
- Make sure to avoid any subcontractor that wants you to sign the contract immediately or asks you for the entire cost upfront.
Importance and Better Use of HVAC
HVAC systems might cost a lot, but people still use it in their buildings. This is because of its benefits and significance outweigh the cost. The best way to operate HVAC systems is to use it properly to its full advantage and efficiently. As they say “Prevention is better than the cure”, that is why it is better to invest a little amount of money in getting an excellent vendor to install a sound HVAC system that is long-lasting. This would prove to be much more cost-efficient and better than installing a cheap HVAC system and getting it fixed every week. If used to its full advantage, the HVAC can provide the following features to a building:
1. Temperature Control
The HVAC systems control the entire environment of a building or workplace. Making changes and adjusting the indoor climate whenever there’s a change in the outdoor temperature is one of its main jobs. For example, the heating part of HVAC systems, which includes the boilers and heaters, keeps the indoor environment warm for winters. The HVAC systems’ cooling function, including air conditioning, keeps the indoor environment warm for the people in summers.
2. Air Quality Control
Apart from just controlling the climate inside a building, it also regulates the humidity inside a building and improves air quality. The HVAC system reduces the quantity of moisture in the air, making the employees and work staff work in a comfortable environment.
3. Air Filtration
In buildings like hospitals and pharmaceutical industries, cleanliness and hygiene are of utmost importance. HVAC systems, including air filtration and humidifiers, are used to remove dust particles and microorganisms from the air. This gives a sensation of fresh air to the patients and the employees working there and enable them to work more comfortably.
4. Green Buildings
While the unnecessary use of energy by HVAC systems may damage the environment, advanced HVAC systems can play a vital role in constructing green buildings. If the clients push the engineers and architects to design better HVAC systems, promote HVAC-related decisions based on life cycle costing, and incorporate planning of HVAC systems earlier in the planning phase, it could help achieve the goals for green buildings.
5. Energy and Cost Saving
The most crucial advantage of advance and better HVAC systems is its cost-efficiency. Sound HVAC systems are a significant investment for the company since it saves energy for the building. Today’s HVAC systems are automated, which means you don’t need specific crew management or a crew schedule to handle or control the system. These automated systems can tell if the employees are present inside a building and turn on and off accordingly.
So concluding the article, HVAC installation during a construction project is not something to overlook or give importance to. This phase is as crucial as any other phase in a construction project. The first step would be to select a sub-contractor that would efficiently plan to install HVAC systems using project management software. He should also have a construction crew that possesses expertise in this domain. After that, it should be made sure that the wires, ducts, and other machinery for the HVAC systems are of top quality and long-lasting. Lastly, the installation should be done in such a way that the system doesn’t get damaged easily or require repairs every week.