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Commercial HVAC – Frequently Asked Questions

How Long will a Commercial Boiler Last?

Typically a commercial boiler will last for around 15 years. The age is also dependant on how well maintained the boiler was over that timespan, a poorly serviced boiler may have a shorter life-cycle. Although some boilers may last longer than 15 years they will have become far less efficient and cost more to operate.

When a Boiler Fails Does the Entire HVAC System Need to be Replaced?

The short answer is no. A boiler can be replaced while leaving the rest of the HVAC system operational. It is advised to inspect the entire HVAC system during a boiler replacement so that you can determine if there are any upgrades or retrofits that can improve the overall performance and efficiency of your HVAC system.

How Much More Efficient is a New Boiler

The answer depends on how old your outdated boiler is and how well it’s been maintained.

Replacing a well-maintained boiler that is 10 years old will offer very little in the way of energy savings. However older boilers can have efficiencies of around 56% – 70% while new boilers can have efficiency ratings as high as 98.5%. Replacing an antiquated boiler with an energy efficient boiler in addition to adding some HVAC retrofits including; improved ventilation, zone control valves and programmable thermostats can realistically cut your energy cost in half – a significant savings in a cold winter climate like Calgary.

How Much More Efficient is a New Rooftop Air Conditioner Unit (RTU)

As a result of the 2013 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Campaign for improved performance and efficiency for Advanced RTUs, todays units can reduce energy usage by as much as 40%. Replacing an RTU that was manufactured before 2013 will significantly save on energy cost even if the old RTU is replaced before it fails.

Most new RTU installations in Calgary aren’t installing the high-efficient units because of the higher cost and more importantly due to summers which aren’t as hot or long as other warm-weather locations

New RTUs can expect to have a similar lifespan of 15 years when installed to specifications and serviced as recommended by the manufacturer.

What is the Cost for HVAC Maintenance

There is a formula to help understand the expected cost for commercial HVAC maintenance.
Price of Contract ÷ Hourly Rate of Service = Hours of Service for Maintenance
Hours of Service for Maintenance ÷ Number of Yearly Visits ÷ Number of HVAC Units/Equipment = Time Spent on Each Unit/Equipment

The cost is also dependant on a number of factors including; size of HVAC system, type of HVAC equipment, accessibility to the HVAC equipment, scheduled visits per year, and more. If a contractor is quoting a very low bid compared to other competitors’ bids it may be a warning sign of an unrealistic HVAC service contract which may not provide the coverage of maintenance or service needed.

Does All Equipment of an HVAC System Need to be Replaced at the Same Time

A commercial HVAC system has a 15 year life-expectancy when it’s well-maintained. It is possible to extend the life of your system or parts of the system with HVAC retrofits. A retrofit allows for the installation of new, efficient components into the HVAC system which increases energy savings, lowers repairs and service costs while offering a cost-effective alternative to an entire HVAC system replacement.

As every HVAC system is unique an evaluation is required to identify which parts or areas of the system can benefit with retrofit equipment and components.

What is the Lifespan of Commercial Ductwork

Commercial ductwork can last 25 years although it may show signs of aging earlier than that with air leaks, deteriorated duct joints, failed sections within the walls, contaminates that can become airborne within the ductwork as well as other related problems. When commercial ductwork fails it can greatly increase energy costs and contribute to poor indoor air quality, humidity control problems and uneven heating and cooling “cold and hot spots” within the building.

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