10 Steps to Prepare for a Commercial Cooling Emergency
When the weather gets hot, your current HVAC system is strained to keep up. If your system goes down, you can lose time and productivity scrambling to come up with a solution. How can you avoid this? By being prepared and having a temporary cooling solutions plan ready at a moment's notice. Our experts have complied 10 steps to help you stay prepared and well ahead of summer heat so you can keep your facility running smoothly.
Step 1: Create emergency team contact list and draft a plan
Whether a planned temporary disruption or an unexpected HVAC emergency, you’ll need to mobilize quickly to keep staff safe and informed while coordinating emergency air conditioning repair to get the cooling back on. While what is considered an HVAC emergency may vary depending on the nature of your enterprise, in many cases – such as a hospital setting, the food and hospitality industry, or even in manufacturing goods that require strict temperature controls – can result in immeasurable costs in terms of wasted materials, or even human lives.
Before a cooling emergency happens, take the time to draft an emergency team contact list and draft a response plan. Your emergency response team will be responsible for keeping the business operating through the cooling emergency. Their quick, coordinated action will support enterprise-wide communication, operation continuity, and coordinated emergency commercial cooling services, such as equipment replacement or repairs.
In preparation for an HVAC emergency, keep a contact list of your emergency team updated and ensure that they have the training to know their scope of authority and responsibility.
Step 2: Document all HVAC systems, components, locations, and operating conditions
Your facility’s HVAC system is highly complex, and an emergency air conditioning maintenance situation is not the time to guess where components are located or what their functions are. Be sure you thoroughly document all HVAC system components as well as all water and electrical connection points, including:
- Air Handlers
- Duct System
- Heat Pumps
- Power Sources
- Rooftop Units
- Thermal Expansion Valves
- Thermal Units
Once you have your list completed, document the commercial cooling capacity of your system and highlight which cooling systems are dedicated to critical areas of your enterprise.
Step 3: Check the health of your existing equipment for compliance
Regular inspection and maintenance of your HVAC system go a long way to help prevent a cooling emergency and emergency air conditioning repair. These inspections also help you ensure that your commercial cooling systems perform up to current efficiency regulations. Preventive maintenance should include:
- Lubricating moving parts and checking belts and pulleys
- Testing sensors, valves, relays, and shutoff switches
- Measuring the refrigerant levels and checking for contaminants
- Testing the economizers that reduce energy use during mild weather
- Monitoring the operating pressure and checking for leaks
- Inspecting the thermostat for proper operation
- Inspecting control boxes and safety controls
- Balancing the airflow and seal air leaks
- Cleaning coils, drip pans, and condensate lines
Data show that HVAC equipment that is regularly maintained lasts longer and is at lower risk for breakdowns. Plus, regular maintenance will help you identify system weaknesses that can be proactively addressed. If repairs need to be made and your systems must go offline to do so, Sunbelt Rentals offers a wide range of commercial cooling and air conditioning equipment for fast delivery and easy setup, including backup AC units.
Step 4: Thoroughly check your air filter to avoid emergencies
Air quality is essential to your employees’ comfort and safety. Air quality can be affected if your HVAC system’s air filters are not properly maintained. Be sure your maintenance schedule includes checking and replacing air filters regularly. In a cooling emergency, getting your system back up and running is critical.
However, until you can make that happen, it’s crucial that you have a backup plan to access indoor air quality management equipment in emergency air conditioning situations. Be sure to keep contact information for your local Sunbelt Rentals climate control specialists handy and distributed to all relevant personnel in the event of an air conditioning emergency.
Step 5: Locate and regularly check breakers
When a commercial cooling emergency happens, your first step is to check the breakers. That’s why knowing ahead of time where the breakers are and which breakers control which components is critical. Check your breaker panels and ensure each switch is clearly labeled. Regularly inspect your breaker panels and if you notice rust, corrosion, or any damage, call a licensed electrician to make repairs.
In some instances, something as simple as a dirty air filter can be the culprit behind triggering your air conditioning unit’s circuit breaker. Regular maintenance of something as seemingly small as changing your air filter on a given schedule, or when outside air quality is poor, can help to reduce disruption to your breaker.
Step 6: Look for refrigerant leakage
Part of your emergency air conditioning plan should include looking for any leaks. Refrigerant is an important component in commercial cooling. While refrigerant operates in a closed-loop system, it can leak. When that happens, the cooling system can become inefficient and malfunction.
In addition, refrigerant is toxic and can be fatal if inhaled (although it is tasteless and odorless). It also harms the environment. Your regular maintenance schedule should include checking for refrigerant and replacing it to manufacturer-recommended levels and immediate repairs and replacement when leaks are discovered.
Step 7: Make sure the thermostat is working
Regularly checking on the efficiency of your thermostat can do more than ward off emergency air conditioning repair. Frequent monitoring ensures optimal temperatures are maintained throughout your enterprise and helps you control energy costs. Regularly check thermostats to make sure display panels are lighted and that readouts are accurate. Change batteries at least once a year. Use canned compressed air to remove any dirt or dust buildup. If an inspection shows signs of wiring corrosion or damage, have the thermostats replaced immediately.
Step 8: Check the ductwork leading to vents
Dirt and debris can build up on vents and in duct work, affecting air quality and decreasing cooling efficiency. Regularly inspect and clean vents and ensure equipment and supplies do not block them. Inspect ductwork to be sure that all sections fit together snugly and are properly insulated. If you discover gaps, make repairs quickly.
Step 9: Call a professional
Make a note of necessary repairs during your regular inspection process and call your HVAC professional when you discover repair or replacement needs. You should also consider the value of a commercial HVAC maintenance agreement to be proactive. Routine, professional maintenance can deliver important benefits like longer equipment life, reliable cooling, increased energy efficiency, improved air quality, and priority service when an emergency ac fix is needed.
Step 10: Prepare the facility according to your plan and save money
Your cooling emergency plan ensures you will be prepared when a cooling emergency does happen. In your plan, outline how you will rapidly deploy rental equipment to sustain critical operations. Partnering with Sunbelt Rentals means you’ll have a resource available to deliver and install necessary cooling and air management equipment. Be sure your plan indicates where the temporary equipment will be installed and the availability of necessary water and electrical connection points. Then, conduct periodic cooling contingency drills to make sure your team is ready for any emergency.
Sunbelt has the rental equipment and expertise to help you keep your building cool even if your HVAC system goes down. With 24/7 emergency response and the largest fleet of cooling equipment in the industry, count on us to help you prepare for whatever comes your way. Contact Sunbelt today to get a quote on a cooling system tailored to your needs.