By Randy Simmons
With continuing escalation in fuel and energy costs, school systems recognize the importance of optimizing the insulation of school buildings and sealing the building to prevent loss of heating and cooling. When buildings have been effectively sealed, the heating and ventilation system is a key element in regulating a safe internal environment.
According to the American Lung Association, poor indoor air quality can trigger asthma episodes and a myriad of other health related problems. Poor air quality is becoming increasingly costly for schools due to expensive mechanical and environmental consulting fees, rising energy cost, building and mechanical equipment failure and repair and increased liability cost. For these reasons, proper maintenance of HVAC equipment that supports a high quality indoor air environment is more than just a budget issue it’s a health and safety issue.
With schools faced with increasingly tight budgets and the need to optimize returns on facility and IAQ improvements, use of technologies that help to optimize HVAC efficiencies while reducing maintenance cost is a “common sense” approach that can help everyone breathe a little easier.
Air Intake Filtration Technology
When air handling units draw fresh air into buildings, the air typically travels through banks of internal pleated filters which capture small airborne particulates before they can get inside the building.
However, when large debris such as cottonwood seed, dandelion seed, leaves, insects, paper, construction debris and other matter get into the fresh air openings, the internal filters can become prematurely fouled by the “blanketing effect” of large debris, rendering the internal filters significantly less effective at capturing the small particulate they were designed to stop. To solve this problem, use of Air Intake Filtration Technology is an effective way to isolate large debris on the outside of the equipment where it can be easily removed. By stopping larger debris on the outside of the air handling unit, it can increase the life of internal filters by up to 60% and that means a savings in filter cost and an improvement in indoor air quality.
When used on air cooled chillers and condenser units, air intake filtration helps to optimize the efficiency of your equipment by
preventing airborne debris from getting into the coils. Keeping condenser coils clean, means that your cooling systems will run less frequently and for shorter periods of time while providing your building with the cooling output needed to effectively manage indoor temperatures. When coils get dirty and clogged, your cooling equipment looses cooling capacity and consumes more energy because it must work harder and run longer to reach set temperature points. Deferring coil maintenance can lead to compressor failure and complete loss of cooling.
Schools using cooling towers for environmental cooling must recognize that keeping debris out of the cooling tower is critical to safety and system efficiency. When you think of cooling towers, it is important to realize that they are very large and efficient “air scrubbers” – all airborne matter that happens to float past the draft of the tower gets drawn into the cooling water and can compromise the entire system by plugging strainers and heat exchangers, reducing water flow and thwarting the heat exchange process; furthermore, when debris gets into the fill material, it can reduce the cooling towers’ ability to cool the water to the designed temperature point before being re-circulated through the cooling loop. When cooling water exceeds the designed temperature point when introduced into the chiller unit – it increases the load on the chiller, reduces the heat exchange capacity and can lead to chiller failure.
Another problem that can result from debris getting into your cooling tower is a reduction in the effectiveness of you water treatment chemicals. The reason for a reduction in effectiveness is in large part due to what is known as “chemical absorption” – this is where debris absorbs water treatment chemicals, locking them inside the debris and making them unavailable to the surrounding water;
this has a direct impact on chemical efficiency. To compensate for absorption, more chemicals are needed. Furthermore, when debris gets into the water and decomposes, it can create an environment conducive to bacteria growth (including Legionella). If the system isn’t properly maintained, Legionella and other bacterial can proliferate and come into contact with maintenance workers and others that may get near the tower. Additionally, bacteria can get into the building air intake openings when contaminated water from a poorly maintained cooling tower is picked-up by the wind and is drawn into fresh air intake openings, thus exposing building occupants and posing a serious health risk.
By using air intake filters, with a well-managed water treatment regimen, your cooling tower will be clean and healthy and operate efficiently.
Air Intake Filter Technology Features:
- Simple to install – installs on outside of equipment (condenser coils, air handling units, cooling tower and louvers).
- Patented engineered filter provides a fine balance between airflow and filtration performance with low static pressure impact.
- Mold & mildew resistant, UV resistant and flame resistant.
- Multiple fastening and operating methods to suite any application.
- Filters are easy to clean using a broom, brush or shop vacuum. Removal not required for cleaning.
- Will deliver up to 15 yrs of service.
Benefits of Air Intake Filtration On:
Air Handling Units:
- Prevents premature fouling of internal pleated or bag filters.
- Optimizes the efficiency of internal filters.
- Protects louver actuators.
- Helps improve indoor air quality.
Air Cooled Chillers & Condenser Coils
- Prevents debris from getting into the coils.
- Reduces / eliminates the need for power washing and hazardous cleaning chemicals. which can damage coils.
- Reduces cleaning effort by up to 75%.
- Helps reduce energy cost because equipment runs clean and efficiently.
- Helps optimize indoor cooling comfort.
- Isolates debris on the outside of the cooling tower where it is easy to clean.
- Helps prevent sludge build-up.
- Prevents fouling of fill, strainers and heat exchangers.
- Diffuses sunlight, reducing algae growth.
- Reduces water treatment chemical consumption by up to 50%.
- Reduces scheduled cleaning work effort by up to 50%.
- System runs efficiently all season long.
School facility managers and maintenance engineers seeking ways to streamline HVAC maintenance practices while improving indoor air quality will be well served by integrating air intake filtration technology into their preventative maintenance program.