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Air Conditioner Basics All Facility Manager's Should Know

Air Conditioner Basics All Facilities Managers Should Know

As a facilities manager, you are responsible for keeping your building at a steady and comfortable temperature throughout the year. Regardless of the season, you must ensure your building’s HVAC system functions properly and puts out the right amount of heating or air conditioning for the entire premise. You can accomplish this important goal in the summer months by learning about the basics of air conditioning that all facility managers like you should know. 

Types of HVAC Systems

Before you can maintain and service your HVAC system, you need to know first what kinds of systems are commonly used in commercial buildings like yours. The most common types of HVAC systems utilized today include: 

  • Constant volume 
  • Variable volume
  • Hybrid split ducts
  • Packaged heating and cooling
  • Heating and AC split
  • Heat pumps
  • Forced air
  • Multiple zones


These systems are most often used in commercial buildings and when properly serviced can maintain a steady temperature throughout large areas like office buildings, retail centers, and other similar properties.

Common Causes of HVAC Problems

Facility managers also need to understand and be able to identify the most common causes that result in HVAC issues. These systems can develop any number of challenges over time. By knowing about the ones that commonly afflict HVAC systems, you can be ready to address them if or when they arise in your building.

For example, challenges with air flow in the building can be caused by factors like: 

  • Clogged air filters
  • Leaky ductwork
  • Closed registers or blocked veins
  • Obstructed condensing units


Further, when your system is blowing out hot air, you may check it for dirty coils, filters, lines, and drains. Debris and dirt can get into any of these components, causing the system to malfunction and blow out hot instead of cool air. 

Likewise, a low refrigerant charge can also cause an HVAC system to blow out hot air. If the refrigerant in the system gets too low, the entire system could malfunction or stop working entirely. 

Low refrigerant can also be caused by corroded coils. If the coils and lines are not cleaned and serviced often, it can lead to small leaks developing throughout the entire system. 

These small leaks may cause the HVAC system to stop blowing out cold air and struggle to maintain a steady temperature during the summertime. It may run constantly to compensate for these leaks and cause its own coils to freeze as well as the compressor to fail. 

Finally, electrical issues can cause the breakdown of an entire HVAC system. Damaged parts like capacitors, wiring, and other parts can cause the circuit breakers in the system to trip and the system to stop working as it should.

Prevention of HVAC Breakdowns 

You can prevent many of the most common breakdowns that HVAC systems experience by taking preventative measures for your building. The best steps you can take to protect your building’s HVAC system include: 

  • Maintaining the entire system at least two to three times per year
  • Cleaning coils to prevent refrigerant leaks
  • Changing the filters to improve indoor air quality and maintain consistent air flow
  • Keeping the equipment free from clutter and debris
  • Avoiding closing, taping, or blocking the vents to maintain a steady temperature in the building


These simple yet important measures can go a long way in preventing serious breakdowns of your HVAC system.

The HVAC system in your building is important to its overall comfort and safety. This system requires regular maintenance and careful attention to its parts and equipment. By knowing what issues often arise with these systems and what measures you can take to prevent them, you can keep your building comfortable and cool during the hottest parts of the year.

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