Strategies for Maintaining Decentralized School Facilities Ventilation Systems
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Maintenance Tips for Decentralized Ventilation Systems in Schools
Students spend more than six hours a day in school, most of which is indoors. School staff spend even more time inside, as they arrive before students and leave after.
According to the EPA, nearly 1 in 13 children of school-age has asthma, which is the leading cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness. Plus, there’s evidence that exposure to allergens common in schools plays a role in triggering asthma symptoms. Not only does this underscore the vital role of mechanical ventilation in our educational institutions, many of which are decentralized, but also the importance of keeping those systems well maintained.
Having ventilation systems is not enough. Regular and proper maintenance is vital to ensuring units can do their jobs effectively — filters in particular. When filters are not cleaned/replaced regularly, dust and dirt can build up, reducing the efficiency and capabilities of the system. By regularly rotating and cleaning filters, schools can significantly improve air quality for both staff and students, reduce the spread of viruses, and enhance the overall efficiency and lifespan of the system.
Within a classroom environment, students continuously stir up the air, creating a mixture of debris such as dust, hair, and pencil shavings that is easily sucked into the system, where it can accumulate over time and create additional inefficiencies.
Who’s Responsible for School Ventilation Maintenance
While having on-site personnel dedicated to monitoring the systems is ideal, there’s not always room in the budget, and this leads to part-time maintenance staff or external HVAC service contracts. These professionals can handle things like monitoring the system's run-time and can provide valuable insights into any anomalies or irregularities that may arise.
Along with inside or outside maintenance staff, teachers will also need to monitor the decentralized ventilation systems in their own classrooms to keep them in good working order. It’s important to educating them about keeping return areas free of obstructions and maintaining vigilance over thermostats to prevent student tampering.
Administrators and maintenance staff should be able to identify and address potential problems promptly, noting any unusual noises and taking immediate action when discomfort persists. The school district should proactively engage with controls contractors and request weekly reports to ensure the systems are functioning optimally.
Maintenance Tips for Decentralized Ventilation Systems
To ensure optimal performance of decentralized ventilation systems, it is crucial to follow a few key maintenance practices.
Change filters regularly
Changing the filters three to four times a year will ensure better humidity control, better ventilation, and lower maintenance costs. Cleaner filters also help systems operate more efficiently, which can preserve proper indoor air quality, put less stress on the equipment, and potentially save on energy costs. One rule of thumb is to change filters at the beginning of the school year, at winter break, and before summer break, particularly if the classrooms will be used for summer school or other programming.
Conduct routine inspections
Check CO2 sensors and ensure units are not blocked or dirty. It is also advisable to have someone with a solid understanding of HVAC mechanics check for any dampers that may not be closing properly. Improperly adjusted dampers can have a significant impact on temperature control, potentially leading to condensation issues. Inspect the dampers regularly, especially if they are slightly open during the night.
Schedule an annual check-up
Similarly, conduct an annual tune-up and visual inspection, including a check of the wires in the voltage box.
Ventilation Systems in Schools and Systemair
By adhering to maintenance tips, implementing preventive measures, and embracing emerging technologies, schools can optimize system performance, reduce maintenance costs, and ensure the well-being of students and staff. Moreover, schools that implement proper maintenance protocols can save on energy costs and upgrade to newer technologies when rotating systems out every 25 years.
Systemair, with its commitment to innovation and advanced solutions, continues to support schools in their efforts to provide clean and comfortable environments for optimal learning outcomes.