Every year the same thing: as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, the property manager’s phone starts ringing. The buildings are too stuffy, or too draughty, or too cold, or too hot – the complaints keep coming and you have to react to everything. What could be done to make things easier when winter approaches?
If there are any issues in a property’s building technology, they will easily emerge when the weather gets colder. The failure of a ventilation unit, for example, immediately shows up as stale indoor air – because the air is not circulating as normal. An issue in the heat distribution centre, on the other hand, can manifest as an insufficient supply of hot water and, of course, as an unpleasantly cool temperature indoors.
“Property managers may remember to change the filters in the ventilation units, but that is not enough. The technical maintenance of building automation systems must be carried out every year, but many people tend to forget about this if they do not have a service agreement. If this work is not done, the risk of equipment failures – and even heat supply outages – rises significantly,” emphasizes Fidelix Division Manager Tero Wendelin.
Prevention is cheaper than cure
Messages about all these different types of building automation problems pile up at this time of year on the desks of property managers. Wendelin encourages you to secure yourself both peace of mind and a calmer work environment at an affordable price.
“Planned maintenance costs are just three figures sums, while urgent equipment repairs can easily cost thousands,” he points out.
For example, ventilation units located on the roofs of properties have massive air heaters that heat the replacement air at times by dozens of degrees in order to reach the desired indoor temperature.
“Special thermostats are used to protect these radiators from freezing. They may not get triggered for years at a time, so it is really important to manually test that they are working properly.”
If a radiator freezes, it must of course be urgently repaired or replaced with a new one – and until this is done, the ventilation unit lies idle and there is no ventilation at all.
“With just a little effort, you can avoid a large and expensive problem,” Wendelin emphasizes.
Like getting an MOT
As a whole, building automation systems involve dozens of actuators and sensors, and each of these is carefully inspected during maintenance work. For example, the mobility of the actuators that control the district heating valves is checked by manual testing, and the functioning of various temperature sensors is checked and recalibrated where needed.
“Impurities and dirt easily accumulate in different components over the year, so the condition of the equipment must be regularly checked. Similarly, the engines of the actuators in particular contain wearing parts that, where necessary, must be replaced with new ones,” Wendelin explains.
System alarms are also reviewed and handled appropriately, a bit like resetting accumulated diagnostic trouble codes in cars. According to Wendelin, this annual maintenance process is in many ways like a car’s MOT.
“Once your car has had its MOT, you can assume that everything is in order: the car passes the inspection and functions well once again for the following year. The annual maintenance of the automation system basically works in exactly the same way,” Wendelin concludes.
Customers benefit from experts who know the building
When a building’s automation system receives ongoing maintenance, it works reliably throughout the heating season and contributes to keeping building costs within budget. The ideal situation is for the maintenance to be carried out by a person who has long experience of the site.
“It is easier to make smart development suggestions if you're familiar with the location,” Wendelin points out.
“And if you have broad data such as annual maintenance reports covering a long period of time, you have an excellent basis for decision-making.”