A checklist of situations that ventilation specialists may encounter daily
Students who are enrolled in Branford Hall’s HVAC/R career training program learn a variety of skills. And while graduates emerge equipped to deal with any number of ventilation scenarios, there are a handful of issues that come down to little more than effective troubleshooting, followed by some routine maintenance.
Below we’ve listed six of the most common HVAC/R problems that Branford Hall externs and graduates are likely to encounter, along with some guidance regarding how to best prevent, diagnose and repair every one.
- Blown fuse/overloaded circuit. Most people are familiar with the fact that stand-alone air-conditioning units require a great deal of energy, the kind that causes the electricity to flicker, or the power to surge. The good thing about blown fuses – from an HVAC/R perspective – is that they’re simple to diagnose, and fixing them can be as easy as installing a replacement part or flipping a switch.
- Clogged filters. Ventilation filters are used to keep dust, dirt and foreign particles from blowing out into an open room. Any HVAC/R specialist can tell if a unit’s filter is clogged by the quality – and quantity – of the air being generated by removing the filter and holding it up to the light. Is it transparent? If not, you may need to clean or replace it – a simple fix, in either case.
- Obstructed drainage lines. Drainage tubes carry water and waste away from a refrigeration or central ventilation unit. Over the course of months or years, these tubes can experience blockages (e.g., algae, mold, etc.), which could lead to more serious problems. When a unit is underperforming, be sure to check the drainage line for obstructions. Taking a moment to clean these tubes out could prevent a system breakdown later on.
- Malfunctioning thermostat. A thermostat electronically regulates any central ventilation unit. In various settings – especially in an office building – fluctuations in the temperature could be the result of various people fiddling with the console. Check the thermostat’s temperature, settings, and perhaps even the on/off switch. There could be a more significant problem, but it’s best to rule out the simplest causes first.
- Coolant leak. Both refrigerators and air conditioners rely on coolant. Most coolant leaks occur somewhere in the condenser or evaporator coils. Constant vibrating is a frequent symptom of this type of leak. Certain refrigerant leaks can be remedied by flushing out the system, and then replacing the appropriate amount of fluid, assuming there’s no major hole. Significant leaks, however, may require replacement of the condenser or evaporator coils.
- Incorrect capacity. Unlike the other issues on this list, incorrect capacity (i.e., installing an HVAC system that is either too powerful or not powerful enough) is not an easy fix. This type of problem is usually the result of people choosing a system that is either less expensive or far too powerful for their needs. The result is either: A) constant under-performance, or B) excessive power surges. Ill-fitted HVAC systems not only rob the owner of efficiency, they have a tendency to drive electricity costs through the roof. The best bet? Advise regular customers to consult you before considering what type of new system to install.
For more on Branford Hall’s HVAC/R program, check out: “HVAC: A Hidden Jewel on Branford Hall’s Bohemia Campus”