If you’re about to undertake a major renovation project in your building, you’re probably both excited and anxious at the same time. On one hand, the new space will make life easier and enhance your business. On the other hand, living through the construction is a major pain and there are so many details to consider that you may be feeling overwhelmed.
Your focus has probably been on the look and functionality of your renovated space. Your HVAC system, which is out of sight and out of mind as long as it’s working, may be the last thing you thought would be affected. Especially if you’re not changing the overall footprint and square footage of the space, you may wonder why your heating and cooling systems would need to be replaced with a new HVAC system.
The truth is, your heating, cooling and ventilation needs are based on much more than the square footage of your space. If you change the layout, usage, occupancy and even the materials used to construct your space, the design of your HVAC system needs to change as well. Here’s why.
Changes to interior layout requires changes to duct work.
Your ventilation system, which consists of air ducts that carry the heated and cooled air throughout your building, has been specifically designed to maximize comfort based on your current layout. If you’re moving walls, windows, doors or even cubicle partitions, you are changing the way air flows through the building. If you don’t update the ventilation system to accommodate layout changes, you’ll end up with hot and cold spots in your space.
When usage of building areas is changed, heating and cooling requirements also change.
You may be renovating in order to accommodate new activities and usage of the space. For example, your business may be expanding and you are moving into a new space. Your business will almost certainly use the space differently from the last tenant.
If you’re running a yoga studio, its heating and cooling needs will be different from an office or a retail store; a boutique filled with racks of clothing has different requirements than an open exercise room. The hours will be different, the activities will change and the occupants may have very different comfort expectations. Even changes in the amount of computer equipment in the space can make a big difference. Make sure the design of the new HVAC system is modified accordingly to avoid unpleasant surprises.
More people require less heating and more cooling.
Chances are, your renovations are meant to accomplish more than just making your space look nicer. You’re probably expecting to grow your business. If, for example, you are renovating a restaurant dining room to accommodate more customers, you’ll be increasing the occupancy of your space.The more people are occupying a given space, the more it heats up. That means your dining room will need less heating in the winter and more cooling in the summer. You need to make sure your new HVAC system can handle these changes.
Your old furnace or air conditioner may be incorrectly sized after the renovation.
New energy-efficient materials and construction techniques may change the need for heating and cooling in your renovated space. New insulated windows and doors prevent drafts, which reduces both heating and cooling needs. The same goes for new wall insulation. New lighting technology produces less heat, which reduces cooling needs but may increase heating requirements.
After all is said and done, your existing furnace and air conditioner may be incorrectly sized for the needs of your renovated space. In many cases, it may now be too large. You may think that’s a good thing, but the fact is a system that’s oversized not only wastes energy but also reduces comfort levels in your space.
Related Article: New York HVAC Systems: 8 Reasons Why Bigger Isn’t Always Better.
You may need to modify air flow to control odors.
This is a very important issue if you’re in the food service business or running a health club. It’s also a major consideration if you’re renovating restroom facilities.
To prevent unpleasant odors from lingering in places where they can offend your customers, the air flow needs to be designed to move air in the desired direction. Once you’ve changed the layout, you’ve modified the air flow. It needs to be corrected to keep those kitchen or restroom odors away from your customers.
Related Article: Your HVAC System Could Be The Cause of Your Smelly Building
Consult with experts about a new HVAC system before you start renovating
Before you start construction, bring in a qualified HVAC professional to evaluate your plans and recommend changes to your heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. It may be only a matter of moving some ducts, or you may find that you need a new HVAC system to provide adequate comfort levels for your new space.
If you’ve been getting by with a contractor that’s not adequately meeting your needs, now is a great time to explore a new relationship. A good way to start is by asking your builder for a recommendation. Then take a look through our helpful guide that explains how to properly vet and transition to a new HVAC service provider, Contract Confidence: Transitioning to a New HVAC Service Provider.