Summer 2023 Test of Your HVAC
Mid Summer heat and humidity brings extraordinary climate conditions for tenants and property managers in many cities, states and countries.
Texas is a case in point with sizzling 100+ degree days already and more expected ahead. The infrastructure is under extreme pressure and never has there been a stronger case for more efficient HVAC systems.
Texas’ private power grid officially reached its all-time record for highest energy demand in one day, today – a system-wide demand level of 80,875 megawatts.
The excessive energy draw is part of the issue, but also that power lines have limits, and air conditioners break down under such demanding conditions. And this heatwave as many past ones in Texas is persistent, often called heat domes, which make even nighttime unbearable for residents.
Heatwaves in 2022
Residents in London and Paris don’t have the experience in dealing with persistent 40+ C heat as do those in Dubai, Arizona or Australia. Yet last year, residents in the UK and France faced extreme heat with only minimal home air conditioning. The elderly were in particular danger. Those lucky renters in houses or apartment buildings with well-maintained and powerful A/C systems fared better.
Last year’s advance warning about the heatwave:
Heat Waves Seem to be on the Rise
Like the summer of 2021, the summer of 2022 suffered intense heat waves plague cities across the globe. So far in 2023, forest fires too have made air quality in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Connecticut unbearable.
From rental tenants, the heat is a major concern, often a life and death matter. And government’s are draw into the condition to protect lives.
In Toronto, Canada, tenants are demanding a maximum heat range in apartment living spaces (proposed at a scorching 42 degrees Celsius). In some cases, the building systems can’t cool rental apartments, and tenants are buying their own air conditioners, which is not permitted in many buildings. That means lawyers, court costs and time wasted.
Big Performance Demands on A/Cs and Heat Pumps
HVAC or heat pump systems were designed to handle high, humid conditions but they must be maintained well, or performance fails. Death, fires, and system replacement are the end result of poor maintenance practices. And if A/C units run all day and night, you can see how poorly maintained ones will break down, especially when tenants don’t understand how to take care of them.
Unfortunately, according to an HVAC technician I spoke with, systems aren’t well maintained due to costs, neglect, and they often have to be replaced. Some systems are old and getting parts is difficult.
Common problems include burnt out or coated condenser or evaporator coils, refrigerant leaks, belt, bearings and fan wear and vibration, thermostat malfunctions, plugged air filters, blown fuses, tripped breakers, and more.
When it gets very hot, breakdowns happen, and you’re pulled into action to provide maintenance immediately. An HVAC emergency could be costly, so it’s advisable to prepare soon.
Often renters are not taught simple instructions such as how to use the home thermostat nor to replace air filters. This causes unneeded calls to support and field visits by technicians. With a property management business with thousands of properties, it’s just another threat to profitability and service quality.
Your ManageCasa’s tenant portal and direct communications via app allows you to reach all tenants quickly so you can advise on precautions and get them to check the HVAC system (or you can inspect them mobily yourself).
Your HVAC Maintenance Checklist
AC system (or heat pumps) should be inspected spring and fall by a certified HVAC technician to meet the demands of the season ahead. Here are some key items to attend to:
- measure the cooling efficiency of the system to find leaks or uninsulated areas (Cooling efficiency is indicated by the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) and ideally there should be about 400 to 500 cubic feet per minute (cfm) airflow for each ton of a heat pump’s air-conditioning capacity.
- ensure tenant changes air filters as per set schedule (send reminders via property management software)
- technician will clean evaporator coils and condensers
- technician will inspect drain lines and ensure water flow
- technician will lubricate motors, movable parts, and inspect belts for tightness and wear and replace if necessary
- inspect the A/C refrigerant charge and look for leaks
- test and verify correct thermostat operation, check batteries, and controls to ensure the work as expected
- check the electrical power system and ensure the furnace blower and fan is in working order
- remove weeds and vegetation from around the HVAC housing
Your Software Automates Maintenance Management
Your contractor or in-house technician should have a maintenance management software app to manage systems and parts as assets, schedule needed maintenance, allocate costs as per lease agreements, and arrange for later repairs and parts replacement. Never before has efficiency been so important. ManageCasa helps you do it like a pro.
Service work is complicated by the fact the technician must diagnose the problem, then arrange to obtain parts and schedule another visit to finish the job.
Preventative Maintenance is Smart Management
That’s why preventative maintenance routines are important. Perhaps the two keys to this is regular inspection and condition reports, and purchasing a high performance system that will handle these big heat waves.
We’re not recommending HVAC systems but you’ll discover them by searching for brand names such as Lennox, Trane, Carrier, Bryant, Rheem, American Standard, York, Frigidaire, Amana, Coleman and more. See the Consumer Reports Guide on buying central air conditioning systems.
Choosing a sufficiently capable HVAC and managing your maintenance professionally will keep your tenants safe and comfortable, ensuring they keep leasing their rental. Given all cost and business factors, it’s worth it. Go the other way, and your liabilities are extensive.
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See more on hiring a property maintenance company, and selecting an excellent property maintenance software solution.
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