Getting reliable HVAC service for commercial facilities may seem like a double edged sword. It’s sometimes tricky (translation: expensive) to get everything right, but not spending the money to get it right can cost you even more in wasted energy, decreased productivity and even lost business.
Related article: Your Uncomfortable Office Temperature Is Hurting Your Business
Large corporate facilities are challenging to service because they have heating, cooling and ventilation requirements that can vary considerably throughout the space. For example, offices have different needs than computer rooms, conference rooms or storage spaces. Even areas that have the same function can have different needs depending on where they are in the building. In fact, the effectiveness of your HVAC system depends on many factors:
- How well it’s designed & sized for your space & usage
- Quality and frequency of previous HVAC service and repair
- A lot of usage factors and environmental conditions, which can be tough to identify
That’s why the choosing a qualified HVAC service company is so important. Of course, there are many criteria that are useful in choosing the right one. You can read about them in this article:
Facilities Managers: 8 Things to Look for in an HVAC Company
Yet in the end there is one quality that’s essential for getting great HVAC service for large corporate facilities. So here’s our advice about the one thing you can do (or maybe it’s really two things) to get your HVAC service problems solved.
Find an HVAC service vendor you can trust…
When we say find an HVAC service vendor you can trust, that includes a few things:
- You need to be able to trust their technical competence in solving complex HVAC service and repair problems
- You must be able to count on them to do what it takes to get the job done right
- You need them to act in the best interest of your business
Do you have an HVAC service provider like that? Not sure?
Then let us tell you a story that illustrates what we mean.
Arista has a long-time client with a large facility out on Long Island that includes both office space and specialty storage space for film. For a space like that, there are a variety of heating and cooling requirements. The perimeter offices needed more heat in the winter (due to heat loss from the windows) than the core building space. In the summer, west-facing spaces needed more air conditioning. And the film storage archive (which stored valuable film that had previously been stored in underground caves!) had strict requirements for consistent temperature and humidity control at all times. Needless to say, we have had to figure out some challenging problems over the years (decades in fact) at this facility.
Here’s an example. This large facility is served by about 40 rooftop packaged units. The winter after the units were first installed, they all began to experience mysterious symptoms: the heat would go out when it was particularly windy. Now, this is the kind of thing nobody teaches you in HVAC service school. Why could the wind cause a unit to stop producing heat? It was a problem that could stump many an HVAC service technician.
Here at Arista, we hire not only the brightest, but the most persistent HVAC service people. They are expected to stick with it until they figure out the problem. In this case, our field supervisor determined that the heat was going out due to a combustion draft motor that was locking out those rooftop units when the wind blew in. Then he devised a creative solution: building custom shields out of sheet metal that would block the wind and keep the flame from rolling back.
There was only one problem remaining: convincing the Facilities Manager to try out our solution. He was a tough cookie and a hard sell! He didn’t want to lay out the cash to pay for custom shields on all 40 units for an unproven solution. So we made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: we would make and install the shields on our dime. If it solved the problem, he would pay for it. If not, it would be at Arista’s expense.
To make a long story short, it worked and we got paid!
Actually, there’s more. Sometime later, those shields stopped being effective. After some HVAC service detective work, we figured out that the environment’s wind dynamic had entirely changed because a neighboring property had removed some huge storage tanks. So we had to modify those wind shields to work under the new conditions.
Then, sometime later, a different problem happened: we noticed that many of those rooftop units were leaking small amounts of refrigerant. Now, when 40 units are leaking even a small amount of refrigerant it’s a huge environmental problem not to mention the expense of finding leaks, fixing them and recharging the refrigerant. Plenty of HVAC service companies would have just gone about the job of finding and fixing the leaks, then charged a fortune for the repair. Or just kept adding more refrigerant and ignoring the cause of the problem altogether.
We felt like that was not the right solution for the customer. Even though those units were out of warranty, we realized that we should approach the manufacturer about the issue since we were talking about so many units experiencing the same problem. Because of our relationship with the manufacturer (and a bit of convincing on the part of our HVAC service team) the manufacturer agreed to replace all the leaky coils. And we installed them at no charge.
Although many HVAC service companies would not operate this way, here at Arista we realize that doing the right thing is a win for everybody. The customer gets a solution that works, and at a very fair price. The manufacturer gets repeat business when the time comes to replace the equipment (that’s exactly what happened in this case). And what do we get? Customers who continue to trust us with their business for decades.
… and then listen to your trusted HVAC service people!
Here’s the moral of the story:
When you find the HVAC service team that’s able to think outside the box to solve the most challenging heating and cooling problems, AND willing to go the extra mile to do the right thing to save you money, don’t be afraid to trust them!
If you’re reading this article to begin with, there’s a good chance that you’re not all that thrilled with the HVAC service you’re getting. Changing vendors might seem like a major hassle, but there are ways to make it easier. To find out how, get your copy of our guide to Contract Confidence: Transitioning to a New HVAC Service Provider.