Commercial HVAC System Maintenance: How Humidity Affects IAQ
Commercial HVAC System Maintenance Tips
So many factors go into creating the perfect team thriving together in a great workplace. Personalities that gel, tasks assigned to the correct team, all the right equipment, a culture of communication, and a great office setting all work together, resulting in excellent productivity. None of these are achieved by accident! It takes hard work and dedication. It would be disappointing to have such an ideal situation marred by neglecting environmental settings, such as temperature and humidity.
Researchers and scientist experiment with variants that help people work together, to find combinations that increase efficiency in the workplace. One factor known to impact productivity is indoor air quality. OSHA acknowledges that an HVAC system is critical for good office indoor air quality. It also acknowledges that when HVAC systems function poorly, it distracts team members and hurts productivity. Good indoor air quality can be determined by several comfort factors: clean, fresh air at an agreeable temperature, and a pleasing relative humidity.
Workplaces with high temperatures and high humidity leave workers listless, fatigued, and irritable.
These same conditions can promote the growth of bacteria, viruses, mold, and other allergens. For some team members, airborne contaminants can trigger asthma and allergies. Other team members develop headaches, itchy eyes, and sore throats.
High humidity can increase the concentration of workplace chemicals like ozone from the printer and formaldehyde that off-gases from most manufactured products.
Low humidity is also unhealthy. It can dry the skin, nasal passages, and cause dry eyes.
In carpeted spaces, low humidity creates static electricity. Static is annoying, but it can play havoc with electronics.
Air that is either too hot or too cold is quite distracting in the workplace.
Personal preference varies so much so that a range of temperatures is considered ideal What are the accepted standards for good indoor air quality in an office space? According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), maintaining indoor humidity at approximately 50% and a temperature between 680 and 780 F is a very comfortable environment for sedentary work.
Achieving Good Indoor Air Quality
Your HVAC system should maintain these air quality standards with no problem, with a few caveats:
Set the thermostat at the desired temperature and limit access for making changes. Changing the thermostat settings frequently is quite annoying. Personal comfort varies with each individual, so it is impossible to please everyone.
Make sure to change air filters regularly; schedule them to at least every three months. Air filters remove much of the contaminants that cause such harm. A dirty, clogged filter interferes with ventilation and heating or cooling the air.
Schedule annual preventative maintenance visits with an HVAC professional. A technician will inspect and clean your HVAC system. Simple tests will ensure refrigerant gas is adequate for the need, electronic switches and sensors respond properly, and the thermostat is calibrated correctly. When the whole system works together efficiently, it will be quite capable of meeting good indoor air quality standards.
When you detect that the performance of your HVAC system is suffering, hear an unusual noise, or smell an unusual odor, call for service as soon as possible. HVAC problems do not just go away, so be proactive.
Since HVAC systems are comprised of mechanical and electrical parts, which eventually wear out. Anticipate needing to replace part or all of your parts about every 20 years. Planning ahead allows you to prepare for the capital needed for such purchases, instead of being surprised by the sudden failure of a valuable piece of equipment.
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