Although heating systems are probably the last thing on a property manager’s mind during the warmer temperatures of summer and fall, there are some very important preventative maintenance measures that must be completed to ensure system efficiency and longevity.
Mark Kesseler, Vice President, Construction & Physical Operations at Greenwin, provides the following expert tips.
Essential preventative maintenance: when to begin
In my experience, each summer, we task our mechanical service providers with the strip down maintenance of in-suite heating and domestic hot water boilers. This essential preventative maintenance provides the main cleaning scope of work for all of our heating boilers. The equipment is completely opened, inspected and cleaned, and all of the deficiencies are identified and repaired. The same inspections should be conducted on all gas-fired duct heaters, usually located on rooftops that supply heated air to the corridors. With the typical life span of these units ranging between 15 and 20 years, you’ll want to stay on top of their upkeep to ensure a long life.
Now that fall is in full swing, suite heating will be required at night. According to bylaws, suite heating must be available after September 15, and particularly if your property is unable to maintain a consistent temperature of 21°C inside of the suites. It is imperative that your indoor/outdoor suite heating controller is set properly to provide a low supply temperature to the suites (but not sweat tenants out of their homes). On days where the mercury lands above 15C, site staff can inspect the systems to see if heat is still being distributed to the suites.
Underground parking maintenance
Heated parking garages should have their unit heater fans inspected and controls calibrated. Typical garage heating set-points for the winter months should range from 8° to 12°C. To get more granular, you will need to ensure that all pipe heat tracing systems are tested at the electrical source, while heat tracers with built in thermostats must have proper on/off operation. Additionally, fan coil heaters require washing of the coils and testing of the fan motors and thermostats. For non-heated parking garages, fall is the ideal time to drain the condensate that has accumulated within your dry sprinkler system.
Probably the most important preparation you need to make this fall is to ensure your heating systems are ready to provide heat to the suites. The heating pumps need to be inspected, greased, oiled and turned on. In buildings that have controls, you must ensure the pump starters are in the auto position for the controls to turn them on and off. Check with your property’s service provider to ensure the closed loop heating system is properly pressurized. They’ll test the water make-up to the heating system and ensure that the expansion tanks for the heating system and are not flooded. Expansion tanks should be drained down to 1/3 capacity to allow for expansion when the heating system turns on.
Last but not least, winterization of lawn sprinklers, exterior hose connections and snow melting products should be arranged within the next 60 days. Don’t let last year’s late start to winter fool you—in Canada, it can start snowing as soon as Halloween arrives (or even earlier). In fact, the Farmer’s Almanac for this year is predicting a very cold and snowy winter. Whether you choose to believe their predictions or not, it’s certainly better to be safe than to be sorry.