Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dominion Power Rebate Program for Commercial HVAC Systems

Your contractor must be on Dominion’s approved contractor list. The performance of each contractor and project will be closely monitored. Please allow for multiple visits by Dominion’s personnel and a third party Measurement and Verification (M&V) contractor. Local governments do not qualify. Customers with single meter loads greater than 10 megawatts do not qualify. Dominion has $30 million dedicated to this program. Although it sounds like quite a bit, you can expect it to go fast in this economy.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Gas turbine generators also add to the viability of wind and solar power generation. Conventional power plants use fossil fuels to fire boilers which create steam to drive the generators. Boiler plants can take one to two days to bring on line and do not handle fluctuations in load very well. Nuclear plants are also best run at a steady load. Gas turbines can be brought on line in a little as 15 minutes and easily modulate to handle the load fluctuations that wind and solar plants are susceptible to. We also discussed PJM, the organization that manages power generation and distribution throughout our region. An upcoming AEE/NCC chapter meeting will provide additional insight into the complexities of keeping everyone’s electricity on so I will comment on that information at that time.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Troubleshooting a Broken Thermostat

The thermostat serves as the control center for an HVAC system. When it goes bad, the entire unit follows suit. When the entire HVAC system doesn’t seem to budge, a damaged thermostat is one of the most likely causes. Here are a few troubleshooting tips.

The thermostat must be installed in the proper location. Owners need to ensure that the thermostat is installed in the correct place; for instance, a thermostat installed on a wall with high heat gain or heat loss will never work properly as it will mainly react to the temperature of the wall and not to the air indoors. Also, a thermostat exposed to direct sunlight is going to experience problems.

Is there a big hole behind the thermostat that feeds either cool or warm air drafts to the device? Virtually every thermostat is designed with a hole that lets wires in. If the wiring hole happens to be situated at the back of the component, the hole must be stuffed with insulation and covered with tape to prevent drafts from affecting the thermostat’s functions.

Checking the heat anticipator is also vital. A main part of most mechanical, non-digital thermostats, the heat anticipator needs to be set according to the amp draw on the heating control circuit. It offers a small amount of energy savings, and it also prevents thermostat overshooting as it shuts off the main burners and allows the fan to continue running and dissipating heat.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Brief History of HVAC Systems

HVAC doesn’t always mean air conditioning. In fact, the acronym stands for “heating, ventilation, and air conditioning”, which covers everything related to controlling thermal comfort. HVAC systems have come a long way since their inception, and this blog post will delve into several main points of HVAC history.

1000s-1400s – During this period, the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, and Indians all churned up pioneering heating and cooling solutions. One notable invention was the Roman hypocaust, which is a central heating system consisted of a furnace in a basement that distributed heat throughout homes. By the 1400s, chimneys were pretty common. It is also known that Leonardo Da Vinci once built a water-driven fan to ventilate several rooms during that time.

1500s-1800s – During the 1500s, ventilating machines were extensively used in French mines to direct fresh air into the shaft. The U.S. House of Parliament also had a crude ventilation system to cool the building during sessions. By the 1800s, Benjamin Franklin introduced the world’s first stove, which also happened to be the first steam heating system.

1900s – Furnace systems with centrifugal fans, as well as high-pressure steam heating, were extensively used during this time. On the cooling side, it was mainly about Willis Carrier, the inventor of the modern air conditioner. Carrier’s invention resulted into numerous other innovations, much of which are still in use today.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Serious Commercial HVAC Epidemics: Gone Underground or Gone for Good?

The term “building related illness” grew in use during the 1990s, starting with the sick building syndrome (SBS). Workers exhibit signs of dizziness, fatigue, and skin problems, among others, in the workplace for reasons unknown. The odd thing about SBS is that afflicted workers claim relief the moment they step out of the workplace.

Twenty years later, SBS has disappeared from media as mysteriously as it appeared back then. New indoor air quality (IAQ) standards and commercial HVAC equipment improved the working conditions a great deal, reducing the number of SBS cases, if any. Is SBS still a relevant notion today or merely an afterthought?

If the latter was the case, would there still be reason to maintain IAQ standards? ASHRAE 62.1, according to ACHR News contributing editor Joanna Turpin, was the industry’s response to SBS. It gave birth to a multitude of HVAC solutions still used by skilled commercial HVAC contractors like the Altus Corporation today.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Installing Commercial HVAC Systems Needs Some Serious Heavyweights

Contractors like the Altus Corporation often use heavy machinery to hoist HVAC units to the roofs of commercial buildings. A helicopter may be a bit overboard, but there’s nothing wrong with it as long as it gets the job done. Cranes are the common choice for the job, their arms reaching up to almost 30 stories high.

Why can’t good commercial air conditioners be like their lighter residential siblings? The answer lies in their purpose.

As commercial HVAC systems need to heat or cool a wider area (supermarkets, workshops, and offices), they require more (and bigger) parts to provide satisfactory performance. The fan in a window-type air conditioner is anything unlike the one used in rooftop HVAC systems, with respect to size and performance.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Facts about Commercial HVAC Maintenance

Property managers should see to it that they know just about every aspect of what makes the inner workings of their commercial buildings function properly, and a large part of that job is maintaining the HVAC system. Air conditioners and heating equipment can be quite troublesome, so it’s always important to keep these facts and tips in mind when dealing with them:

Get Professional Help
Don’t even try to DIY any problem with your HVAC that you know couldn’t simply be fixed with a mere adjustment in the thermostat or temperature control. These equipment are incredibly complex, and only the professional knowledge of HVAC repair and maintenance contractors can truly get a faulty unit back into gear.

Find Licensed Contractors
In most states, a license is required of professional contractors before they can render their services. However, even if your locality doesn’t require it, it’s still best to choose pros who are certified, because they could provide higher-quality services that other fly-by night operators simply couldn’t.

Early Troubleshooting
Even if you’re not an expert, you can always look out for trouble signs that your HVAC might be failing, and then have your unit checked by pros as soon as possible. Watch for red flags like strange odors or noises coming out of the unit, insufficient heating or cooling, and leaks, among others. The sooner you can have a problem fixed, the less inconvenient things could be for you. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Value of an HVAC Professional

If you’re like many property owners, you probably have a commercial contractor that your rely on for any and all servicing that your property needs. For basic construction repairs to plumbing issues, this arrangement will do just fine. However, when it comes to your HVAC system, only the expertise of a true HVAC specialist will do. There are a few reasons why this is so:

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Look at When to Change Your HVAC Unit

As a business owner, you cannot possibly expect good results if your employees are not comfortable enough to focus on their jobs and responsibilities. This is why an HVAC system is important for businesses, especially if the majority of your employees work inside a building and are in front of a computer screen from nine to five.
However, just like any other type of machinery, HVAC units will eventually malfunction. While most errors can be repaired by a trusted contractor, it is important for business owners to decide whether to call it quits with their current HVAC unit or have it fixed. Here are some factors for a business owner to consider:
If the HVAC unit is at least a decade old, that means it’s nearing the tail end of its service life. It also means that in terms of efficiency, it pales in comparison to more recent units.
Operational Costs
A business owner will probably feel the inefficiency of the HVAC unit on operational costs. If the energy bills keep piling up due to the inefficacy of the unit, then it is time to replace it. The frequency of maintenance should also be a telltale sign.

Finally, if the office feels too humid, hot, or cold, then it means that the HVAC unit isn’t doing its job. That also means production will take a hit, as employees will feel too uncomfortable to work properly. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Is It Time to Integrate Commercial HVAC, Lighting, and Electronics?

What can integrating three of the most energy-hungry aspects of commercial operations bring in a world that’s increasingly stringent about efficiency?

The “Big Three” of commercial operations—HVAC, lighting, and electronics—account for almost 70 percent of a commercial building’s energy requirements. These modern-day conveniences are nothing short of necessities for a conducive and productive work environment.

Quality commercial HVAC repair and maintenance can indeed help lower energy costs. At the same time, many businesses want to make the most out of what they can do to cut their energy use. As it stands, HVAC systems operate separately from lighting and electronics. Yet some experts now see an opportunity to unify these aspects and further reduce energy consumption.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Installing HVAC for Warehouses

Every company’s complex or industrial estate will have at least one warehouse within the premises. The place can be used to store predetermined products or simply to add some office space. However, the demands of activities inside the building will warrant extensive solutions for installing HVAC systems. When the warehouse is, say, several years old and fans are the only air circulation systems you see inside, you may want to invest in something newer.
Your team must define the objective for setting up the HVAC system– and most of the time, they will revolve around the facility’s intended use. At this stage, a commercial HVAC contractor can be brought in to better map out the gridwork, especially in ensuring that the final design is compliant with local civil engineering codes.
Sound tolerance will be a major issue when your employees are working inside the warehouse. The HVAC system must be thoroughly muffled when its moving components are close to occupied spaces. Consider investing in carbon dioxide sensors to help in air quality monitoring.

A warehouse equipped with a well-designed HVAC system will be worth its weight in gold to your company. The machinery will be able to take care of your workers’ health in controlled conditions. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Never Call a Residential Technician to Repair Commercial HVAC Systems

One of the major red flags Union-Bulletin writer Sheila Hagar pointed out involved the inspection process. A local appraisal company recommended a home inspection company to search every nook and cranny of the building for problems, which the county hired. However, county officials failed to realize that residential and light/heavy commercial HVAC systems are different.

According to Michael J. Brandemuehl, professor and Professional Engineer from the University of Colorado Boulder, commercial heating and cooling systems have more hardware in place than a typical home system. It’s fairly easy to spot the difference because residential HVAC systems are normally not configured as rooftop units.

Residential systems may use a ground-based unit, but commercial systems may use more than one unit due to increased heating and cooling loads. It doesn’t take much to realize that most office buildings clearly have more rooms to heat or cool than a typical home.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Indicators that HVAC Maintenance Is Necessary

One more season to go and it’s summer again. The smell of the beach is getting more fragrant to vacationers. However, for office workers who are not going on a vacation anytime soon, this could mean additional stress as heat can worsen their working condition. Fortunately, with a fully functioning cooling system, any job in summer won’t be too hard to take on.

No wonder business owners invest in regular HVAC maintenance. They don’t want their employees to suffer while working, which could affect their productivity. Before calling in experts, they initially look for signs that there’s a need for maintenance or repair. Here are some of the most common indicators.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Storm Winds, Hail, and Lightning Could Damage Commercial HVAC Systems

Powerful storms can easily wreak havoc in any given area. Strong winds, lightning bolts, and hailstones can all contribute to property damage. Unfortunately, Mississippi residents are expected to face poor weather conditions—and the possibility of damage—by the first week of April.

Most commercial HVAC units are situated on the roof of a building, leaving them vulnerable to hailstorms. One of the more common signs of hail-damaged air conditioning systems is bent condenser fins.

Fins that have been bent to roughly ¼ to 3/8 inches deep are usually classified as having major structural damage. Although there is still a chance that the unit can be repaired, fixing it might take a while. Replacing the unit might be the better alternative. Either way, the damaged fins need to be addressed quickly as they cause air flow blockage.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Warm Weather Marks Inspection Time for Commercial HVAC Systems in TN

The warmer weather should be well-received in the area, especially after a seemingly endless and unprecedented winter. The favorable weather conditions are sure to encourage people to spend time under the sun and enjoy the warmth on their skin. However, as the temperatures eventually become warmer, they are also sure to send people back inside their homes or into the malls to seek refuge from the heat.

Fully-functional commercial air conditioners are noisy machines, constantly blaring a loud whirring sound. This noise is completely normal and should be no cause for alarm. However, when you begin to hear clanking, thudding, squealing, or growling noises, call a repair service ASAP. These sounds typically indicate a damaged condenser or compressor.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tips When Buying HVAC for Your Business

One of the vital factors that determine the success of a business like restaurants and malls is the level of comfort they provide their customers and employees. When you talk about indoor comfort, a huge responsibility lies on how efficient your commercial HVAC systems are. If you are upgrading your old cooling and heating systems, keep these simple tips in mind in order to make the right purchase:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Up-to-date Commercial HVAC System Will Help Avoid Heat Wave Problems

An urban environment only exacerbates high temperatures with its lack of natural foliage and other things that may help people cool down. Thus the primary way for people to keep cool are through the commercial HVAC systems in their buildings. Lacking them only increases their chances of suffering a heat stroke.

A trusted commercial HVAC service can help make sure that a building’s HVAC systems are up-to-date, ensuring that no breakdowns or malfunctions happen even on the hottest of days. Altus Mechanical and other dependable HVAC providers should always be on-call to deal with any problems that can occur. Keep in mind that keeping cool these days is a matter of life and death.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rising Natural Gas Prices Demands Efficient Commercial HVAC Systems

Heating up a home or a place of business often depends on natural gas. The above price surge means that the cold snap made it more costly for households to keep warm on cold nights and even days. Commercial heating and cooling systems are even more susceptible to this price increase because of the often large facilities that they have to handle.

The key to saving money in the face of future harsh weather is to have efficient commercial HVAC systems. Well-maintained heating systems make sure that gas is well-spent and not wasted. Regular maintenance by dependable HVAC companies like Altus Mechanical make sure that your building’s heating and cooling systems are ready for extreme changes in temperature.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

DOE Wants to Help You Improve Your Commercial HVAC Systems Efficiency

Our AEE chapter meeting in January was the kick off meeting for the George Washington University’s new student chapter. The speaker was Ms. Karen Butler, EPA’s National Manager Commercial Building Design Initiative – Energy Star.

As you might imagine, EPA’s interest in efficient building design and operation is to promote the reduction of energy consumption and the avoidance of the pollution that results from producing the unnecessary energy. The ‘Target Finder Tool’ is part of the EPA’s ‘Energy Star Portfolio’ a collection of no cost, on line tools that can help you design more energy efficient buildings, track their performance and compare them to similar, energy efficient commercial air conditioners, facilities.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Variable Frequency Drives in Single Zone Rooftop HVAC Units as Installed by Commercial HVAC Contractors

It is our understanding that VFDs are now required in single zone units in California and that other states may follow. ASHRAE standard 90.1-2010 requires VFDs in single zone, direct expansion (DX) units with cooling capacities of greater than 9.1 tons. If you are not familiar with the term, DX units are your typical package rooftop units which have internal compressors. ASHRAE standard 18931-2009 also requires VFDs in single zone DX units with cooling capacities of greater than 9.1 tons and, in addition, two stages of cooling in units with cooling capacities of greater than 5.4 tons. This may provide additional savings because having multiple stages may allow you to use lower blower speeds than with single stage, on/off, compressors. You may check with your local code authority to see if these standards have been adopted by your jurisdiction, and/or consult with commercial HVAC specialists

As with any equipment modification, there are a few things you need to be aware of when having qualified commercial HVAC contractors install VFDs on single zone units. From the service contractors’ viewpoint, the most immediate issue is to ensure that the low-speed setting moves enough air across the coil in the cooling mode to prevent “flood back,” a condition where the refrigerant does not absorb enough heat and returns to the compressor in liquid form. In severe cases, flood back can damage even the newest scroll compressors. Concern for this may be the reason that both ASHRAE standards will accept a low setting of two-thirds of full speed. Since even slower speeds may work in many applications and provide greater savings, the safest approach would be to check each unit individually. Existing problems external to the unit such as undersized or restricted duct work, closed diffusers or dampers, leaks between the supply and return ducts and other issues may not allow for sufficient air flow when the blower speed is reduced. Insufficient air flow would also be a problem in the heating mode because it may result in the short cycling of the safety devices, overheating of the heat exchangers, and possibly an increase in the air temperature above the safe design temperature for that equipment.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Benefits of HVAC Maintenance for Businesses

The recent American cold wave has affected a lot of American cities. The record low temperatures and high levels of snowfall has affected education, services and transportation. The extreme weather reminded a lot of communities of the importance of heat in people’s lives.
Heat is usually provided to homes and buildings by furnaces and similar heating systems. Like a lot of other machines, however, furnaces tend to malfunction after a certain period of time. This is the reason why HVAC maintenance is required for both commercial and residential HVAC systems.
A reduced risk of HVAC failure when it is needed most is one of the greatest perks companies and families will receive out of regular HVAC maintenance. Businesses located in cold places cannot function properly if the heater malfunctions, which can cause these businesses to lose profits. A well-maintained heater prevents that unfortunate circumstance from happening.
Another positive that businesses can obtain from regular HVAC maintenance is a better heater. A regularly maintained heater can run much more efficiently, which means less expenditures for the company. A well-maintained heater can help businesses profit.

Thirdly, heater maintenance can have an effect on air quality. Dirty heaters equate to poor air quality that is detrimental to employees allergic to dust. Regular HVAC maintenance helps employees maintain good health and perform much better at work, which results in a better output for the company. 

Air Conditioners for Human Comfort & Efficiency

Air conditioners are a must-have among many office spaces and commercial buildings. This is especially true of areas whose temperatures are too high for comfort.

An article on Bright Hub Engineering lists common sources of rising temperatures. The sun is the major cause of heat generation inside the room of an office or a building. Sun rays enter the room through the roof, walls, and windows of the building which results in the generation of heat within the room.

Other sources of generated heat are electrical and electronic appliances as well as the people themselves. If all these factors ‘work’ together in the same room, they can lead to highly uncomfortable levels of heat. As a result, air conditioning becomes a necessity to counteract these conditions.

The article also lists some of the advantages of an air-conditioned environment. According to research, people tends to tire faster in hot temperatures. Additionally, air that is free of dust can circulate inside the room and create a healthy atmosphere. Lastly, outside noise has virtually no way to enter an air-conditioned room because there is no need to open the windows.

All in all, air conditioners and other commercial HVAC systems can provide several benefits that contribute to human efficiency and inhibit the creation of an uncomfortable atmosphere.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Design Guides for Commercial HVAC Systems Discussed at AEE/NCC Meeting

Recently, the Association of Energy Engineers National Capital Chapter (AEE/NCC) invited Dr. Paul Torcellini, the noted Group Manager for Commercial Building Research of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), to speak at the Association’s monthly meeting. In his talk, Dr. Torcellini presented an introduction to the design guides the laboratory has published for various commercial buildings. Many of these are relevant to the business of designing energy-efficient commercial HVAC systems for Altus Corporation’s clients.

The guides Dr. Torcellini laid out detail design specifications for a wide variety of commercial buildings and cover requirements for 50% and 30% energy savings. The comprehensive list of buildings includes small and large hospitals and healthcare facilities, medium to big box retail establishments, small and medium office buildings, K-12 school buildings, small warehouses and self-storage facilities, and highway lodging, among others.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Commercial HVAC Services Provider Launches Newly Redesigned Website

Altus Corporation is proud to launch their newly redesigned website to improve the overall browsing experience of visitors when looking up their services. The company offers honest and reliable commercial HVAC repair and replacement options to customers in most of the Eastern United States, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, and Maryland, among other states.

The website, redesigned by TripleE Fusion, now has a cleaner and fresher look that makes it easier for readers to learn more about the company. The overhaul starts with the updated logo that still uses the same red and gray colors but represents the movement of air in HVAC better and features a cleaner sans-serif font type. In every page, the banner now indicates the toll-free number and has a button that links to the contact page for immediate access to the company’s contact details.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tips for Energy-Efficient Commercial HVAC Systems

Climate change and improper use contribute to the risks and inefficiency of any commercial HVAC system. In addition, failure to conduct regular cleaning, tune-ups, or preventive maintenance results in costly repairs and, even worse, the need for replacement. Here are some pointers to help keep commercial HVAC systems fully functional and energy efficient.
Calculate your establishment’s energy needs to determine the most effective HVAC system. Decrease HVAC use by reducing lighting use, insulating windows, and sealing duct leaks. Install high-efficiency units with proper sizing, as well as take advantage of timers and fans.
Significant energy savings can be achieved when you enforce the use of your HVAC units only when and where necessary. Proper maintenance of not just the integral components but the entire unit can be the key to longevity and optimum efficiency.
Installation of an entirely new system may be necessary to cut energy costs. Carefully evaluate and compare the pros and cons of repairing and replacement. An experienced HVAC contractor can provide you with reasonable and cost-effective options.
Consult with reputable companies for more appropriate HVAC solutions and services that satisfy your needs. Invest in fully-functional and energy efficient commercial HVAC systems to ensure a pleasant, productive, and safe environment for your employees and customers.

Improving the Energy Efficiency of HVAC Systems

Dr. Paul Torcellini, the Group Manager for Commercial Building Research of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), spoke at a meeting of the Association of Energy Engineers National Capital Chapter (AEE/NCC) earlier this month. Among other things, Dr. Torcellini discussed the design guides published by the laboratory pertaining to commercial buildings. Many of these guides are relevant to the business of designing energy-efficient commercial HVAC systems for various users.

The guides Dr. Torcellini laid out detail design specifications for a wide array of commercial buildings and cover requirements for 50% and 30% energy savings. The comprehensive list of buildings includes small and large hospitals and healthcare facilities, medium to big box retail establishments, small and medium office buildings, K-12 school buildings, small warehouses and self-storage facilities, and highway lodgings, among others.

The design guides also lay out a step-by-step process for increasing net energy conservation toward the creation of commercial buildings that achieve net zero energy consumption—which basically means that the buildings are able to produce as much or more energy than they consume. This breakthrough is achieved by providing buildings with on-site energy generation capabilities using renewable energy sources. Such improvements, it is expected, will greatly enhance the efficiency of power-hungry HVAC systems.