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HVAC – Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning

‘HVAC’ refers to Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning, which can be used in buildings to:

  • Maintain internal air quality.
  • Regulate internal temperatures.
  • Regulate internal humidity.

It is sometimes extended to include other services, such as refrigeration (HVACR).

Internal air quality can be maintained by a combination of introducing ‘fresh’ air into the building, extracting ‘stale air’ and by filtration. Ventilation may be natural, mechanical, or mixed mode (a hybrid system).

Internal temperatures can be regulated by heating and cooling. Typically, this is achieved by heated water and chilled water that is generated by boilers and chillers and then used in heating coils and cooling coils as part of the ventilation system. Alternatively, hot water may be used to supply systems such as radiators, underfloor heating and so on.

Very broadly, HVAC systems can be centralised in a building, or local to the space they are serving, or a combination of both. They may also be connected to a wider district heating or cooling network.

They may be integrated, with heating, ventilation and air conditioning provided by a single system, for example, air handling units connected to ductwork, or they may be a combination of separate systems, for example mechanical ventilation with radiators for heating and local comfort cooling units.

 

Regular inspection and maintenance is necessary to ensure that systems are operating optimally.

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Heating & chilled water system balancing

A properly balanced heating and chilled water system is a crucial and cost-efficient way of maintaining adequate pressure throughout your HVAC system, regardless of environmental factors or spikes in usage.

We offer a range of services for all water systems including validation, commissioning and water treatment. Our customer base include hotels, hospitals, government buildings, office blocks, schools & colleges and residential properties.

An unbalanced system can cause various issues depending on the scale of the problem and the size of the building. Some areas may be getting too much heat whilst other parts of the building could be too cold for your staff to work comfortably. A balanced system helps ensure a steady temperature throughout the building and can dramatically reduce the amount of energy wasted.

We can assist in identifying overflows which cause pump sets to work more than they are required. Identifying issues such as these and resolving them quickly and efficiently will also reduce your energy costs.

Validation

At ICS, we offer a full range of validation services for new or existing air and water systems.

Post installation, a thorough, professional validation on a newly installed system by our inhouse experienced team can ensure that it is working well and to the design specification.

Our validation service follows a step-by-step plan to check all aspects of the system. This starts with a visual inspection and also includes physical testing of flow rates, pressures, equipment condition, functionality and more.

We also sample closed water systems for microbiological and chemistry levels, and domestic water systems for drinking water quality, Microbiology and legionella.

We produce detailed reports based on the data that we have collated allowing us to identify parts of the system that are not running as efficiently as they should. A well-balanced system will help reduce on-going costs but also increase the lifecycle of your system.

FAQ’s

As a landlord, what are my duties?

The legal duty for landlords who provide residential accommodation to consider, assess and control the risks of exposure to Legionella to their tenants is not new. This requirement stems from the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1989; Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 makes provision for the legislation to apply to landlords of both business and domestic premises. All water systems require an assessment of the risk which they can carry out themselves if they are competent, or employ somebody who is.

In most residential settings, a simple assessment may show that the risks are low and no further action may be necessary. (An example of a typical lower risk situation may be found in a small building (eg housing unit) with small domestic-type water systems, where daily water usage is inevitable and sufficient to turn over the entire system; where cold water is directly from a wholesome mains supply (no stored water tanks); where hot water is fed from instantaneous heaters or low volume water heaters (supplying outlets at 50 °C); and where the only outlets are toilets and wash hand basins). If the assessment shows the risks are low and are being properly managed, no further action is needed but it is important to review the assessment regularly in case anything changes in the system.

Simple control measures can help control the risk of exposure to legionella such as:

  • flushing out the system prior to letting the property
  • avoiding debris getting into the system (eg ensure the cold water tanks, where fitted, have a tight fitting lid)
  • setting control parameters (eg setting the temperature of the calorifier to ensure water is stored at 60°C)
  • make sure any redundant pipework identified is removed.

Tenants should be advised of any control measures put in place that should be maintained eg not to adjust the temperature setting of the calorifier, to regularly clean showerheads and to inform the landlord if the hot water is not heating properly or there are any other problems with the system so that appropriate action can be taken. If there are difficulties gaining access to occupied housing units, appropriate checks can be made by carrying out inspections of the water system, for example, when undertaking mandatory visits such as gas safety checks or routine maintenance visits.

Where showers are installed, these have the means of creating and dispersing water droplets which may be inhaled causing a foreseeable risk of exposure to legionella. However, if used regularly (as in the majority of most domestic settings) the risks are reduced but in any case, tenants should be advised to regularly clean and disinfect showerheads. Instantaneous electric showers pose less of a risk as they are generally coldwater-fed and heat only small volumes of water during operation.

It is important that water is not allowed to stagnate within the water system and so there should be careful management of dwellings that are vacant for extended periods (eg student accommodation left empty over the summer vacation). As a general principle, outlets on hot and cold water systems should be used at least once a week to maintain a degree of water flow and minimise the chances if stagnation. To manage the risks during non-occupancy, consideration should be given to implementing a suitable flushing regime or other measures such as draining the system if it is to remain vacant for long periods.

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