Winter, Ice, and Your Facility

What can you do to keep your facility running efficiently and effectively throughout the winter? Your planning should start with keeping your HVAC system running at all times in order to protect your whole facility.

Midwestern winters can be cold and unpredictable. When temperatures drop suddenly, unexpected damage often happens. For any large facility, damage can also be related to the fire prevention sprinkler system.

According to Chapter 9 of the International Building Code, any facility over 12,000 square feet is required to have an installed and functioning automatic fire sprinkler system. Facilities with these systems might include:

  • Warehouses
  • Production Facilities
  • Large office buildings
  • Fulfillment centers

During extreme winter temperatures, if your facility is not kept at an appropriate temperature, significant damage can occur to the system.

Frozen Sprinkler Systems

In the coldest months of winter, even an unoccupied facility must be kept at optimal temperatures to protect the sprinkler system and keep the facility secure. When temperatures drop suddenly in a building without a functioning HVAC system, water in pipes will freeze and expand. This can cause the seam in the pipes to split or cast iron fittings to break. The result is a cascade of icy water throughout the facility.

The aftermath of burst pipes involves a long series of water remediation plans. No facility owner wants to go through this process and expense. Not only is the facility damaged by water and ice, but owners are responsible for meeting codes related to mold regulations when water is found throughout the facility. The remediation and clean up from this event is time-consuming and extremely expensive.

Plan in Advance with your HVAC maintenance

Good maintenance begins with sound planning. The National Fire Protection Association provides tips for winterizing your fire sprinkler system and to avoid damage.

Your HVAC system is your first line of defense against winter damage to your sprinkler system. Even if your facility is vacant due to changing tenants, you must keep your HVAC system functioning at all times, especially during the winter months. Make sure to have Midwest Mechanical service your HVAC system regularly to keep it functioning properly.

If you are a building owner, it is your responsibility to provide an environment that keeps all systems functioning optimally at all times. During the winter, this includes keeping the facility at an optimal temperature.

How can we help? Midwest Mechanical provides services to help you be prepared for any winter issues in advance. We can install a control system in your facility. This web-based system will send an alarm when temperatures drop too low in your facility, so that you always know when there is risk. This is especially helpful in situations where a tenant may have vacated a facility and the building is at risk with changes in weather.

Contact us for your advance planning so that we can provide one of our useful services.

  • Preventative maintenance services for HVAC
  • Installation of web-based control systems
  • Inspection of existing HVAC systems
  • Installation of new systems for your facility

Don’t let the winter months catch you by surprise. Contact Midwest Mechanical today to help prevent any unexpected expense for your building.

Tractors and HVAC Systems – Planned Maintenance for Best Productivity

How are Tractors like HVAC and Refrigeration Systems? Both require regular planned maintenance and a beneficial relationship with a service provider. Do you care for your HVAC System as you care for your tractor? Midwest Mechanical can help.

Daily Tractor Use Requires Planning and Upkeep

I have a friend who owns a ranch in the Ozarks. That hilly countryside is full of rocks and isn’t good for much except growing grass and raising cattle. His most important tool is a tractor which he relies on every single day throughout all four seasons. During the summer he uses it for cutting hay, raking, and baling. This year, when hay yields were low, it was necessary to do a first and second cut of hay three months apart. When winter comes around, and we have heavy snows in the Midwest, he will be glad his tractor was in good shape to cut that second round of hay.

But what keeps a tractor running well? Can you just count on it to work for you day in and day out? Definitely not. Tractors require regular planned maintenance so that they are always in functioning condition for daily use.

Regular maintenance on tractors includes:

  • Checking and maintaining levels of hydraulic fluids
  • Regularly scheduled oil changes each season to remove contaminants from the motor
  • Changing transmission fluids every 500 hours
  • Checking diesel fuel levels and keeping the water separator drained
  • Checking and changing radiator fluid
  • Changing the air filter
  • Cleaning the radiator and condenser coil for the cab air conditioning

Without this regular maintenance, farmers find themselves in trouble. A broken tractor can mean missing the window to cut hay and missing opportunities to provide adequate feed for cattle.

You Need a Good Service Provider

If you want to keep a tractor in good condition, more is required than just buying the best tractor on the market. When you buy a tractor, you want a dealer that gives you a fair price. But they also need to back that purchase with excellent service. We all know that something is going to break eventually. When it breaks, who will be your first call to make sure your equipment is up and running? That first call must be to someone you trust.

Planned Maintenance for your HVAC or Refrigeration System

Did you know that your HVAC and Refrigeration Systems are a lot like a tractor? Just like a tractor, they are used daily. In fact, they are in use for more hours than most tractors, as they keep buildings at a proper temperature 24 hours a day. You must invest in planned maintenance if you want your HVAC and Refrigeration Systems to run properly. Just like a tractor, these systems need regular attention.

Proper maintenance included:

  • Maintaining oil levels in compressors
  • Maintaining proper operating refrigerant pressures
  • Installing fresh clean air filters
  • Cleaning condenser coils and evaporator coils to remove that dirt
  • Making sure that the operating and safety controls are functioning properly

In fact, a clean condenser coil is a key to optimal performance for your systems. Without proper maintenance, your HVAC or Refrigeration Systems use an excessive amount of energy and will eventually fail. Just like a tractor will eventually break, so will your HVAC and Refrigeration Systems. So why take a risk with the equipment that keeps your building and employees operating at their best?

Plan for your Maintenance

What is the key to success and best performance for your HVAC and Refrigeration Systems? The answer is simple. Have a plan.

Rob Brouillet, tells Midwest Mechanical Customers “Make sure you have planned for your maintenance, and your maintenance is planned.”

We can help you set up a plan to keep your HVAC and Refrigeration Systems operating at their best at all times.

Contact us to plan for your maintenance now. And don’t forget to check with your tractor service provider, too!

Increase Productivity at Work in Commercial Facilities with Comfortable Indoor Climates

As a business leader, undoubtedly, you are tasked with finding how to increase productivity. As you search for ways to do this, have you considered evaluating the efficiency of your facility’s HVAC system and the quality of the indoor air? Studies show air temperature and the environmental comfort of an industrial facility, office building, warehouse, distribution center, or campus building have a significant influence – both good and bad – on employee productivity.

If you are ready to investigate and overcome the often unknown, low-productivity culprit of unpleasant working conditions and measurably increased productivity, look at indoor air temperature, indoor air quality, and the level of ventilation.

Not sure where to start? Midwest Mechanical Services & Solutions, a commercial and industrial HVAC company with 50 years of experience, comes across this issue more and more, so we thought we would share the top three indoor climate and environmental productivity zappers, and how improving them can keep employees motivated, healthy, and increase productivity at work.

Young lady at a desk with a fan in front of her, fanning herself with a piece of paper

Top 3 Ways to Increase Productivity with Indoor Climate & Environmental Productivity Zappers

1. Temperature – 70° F Please

We’ve all been there. One person likes his or her work area warm, another likes it frigid, and yet another likes it in-between. Every five minutes the temperature is being bumped in one direction or another. It’s no surprise that studies show at least 50% of employees are unhappy with their indoor working climate. This is such a big problem, many companies put acrylic lockboxes over the thermostats.

No more thermostat wars! No matter the season, the optimal temperature for most working environments is 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature, though cooler than we would typically have at home, works well for most people in nearly all commercial environments and is shown to boost worker output by 10 to 15 percent.

  • When the temperature gets above 70 degrees, depending on the type of work, uncomfortable sweating can become a visible problem and an embarrassment, lowering morale, causing fatigue, and decreasing productivity.
  • Temperatures too low can also cause poor performance. One study revealed that at 68 degrees, employees made 44 percent more errors. Being cold is a mental distraction and creates a restlessness to try to stay warm.
  • In high-production areas with heavy equipment or lots of IT equipment, the indoor air temperature can fluctuate wildly and increase quickly. The right cooling and ventilation system with maximum efficiency is a must to keep this and other areas at a constant, comfortable temperature.

If you’re not sure 70 ° is the right temp for each area of your building(s), conduct a confidential survey to find out what your employees think. Ask them at what temperature they feel most comfortable doing their jobs, then choose an average (you can also ask about the next two topics listed). When employees feel heard and part of the solution, morale goes up and productivity follows. It may be hard to believe, but something as simple as a comfortable temperature can noticeably improve output and keep employees from leaving.

Research shows changing the thermostat by 2 percent can lead to a 10 percent loss in productivity.

2. Humidity – Too Dry or Too Damp?

Typically, HVAC systems dehumidify the air. While this may be beneficial during our sticky, midwestern summers, dehumidifying the air in the cooler months can cause dry throats and eyes, dry skin, and the need to constantly rehydrate. When indoor air is too dry or too damp, viruses and mold are known to thrive, unlike employees.

As a result of dry or damp discomfort, employees’ concentration declines, and they become less productive in their work. Production facilities, offices, warehouses, distribution centers, and campuses need a climate-controlled HVAC system that provides enough humidity for employees to feel comfortable, as well as to protect them from the spread of airborne viruses and mold. Better health means higher output.

Loading dock worker on forklift with open doors

3. Ventilation – Outside Air Indoors is a Must for Optimized Health & Production

Workplace ventilation with outside air is vital for better health, more energy, and – you guessed it – higher production. Unfortunately, ventilation is rarely considered and often underestimated in its importance. The nature of many businesses requires locked doors and windows that don’t open, and others just don’t allow it, leaving stale recirculating air to, well, recirculate.

This lack of outside air (O2) raises CO2 levels, greatly impairing concentration and health and decreasing productivity. Poor ventilation also increases the chances of viral and bacterial infection. Additionally, if your business is industrial, chemicals, vapors, and dust are most likely present in the recirculated air and breathed by your employees, day after day.

So, what do you do? Controlling heating and cooling costs are already difficult enough without opening doors and windows, increasing your already substantial energy costs.

The good news is there are ventilation systems (natural, spot ventilation, and whole building) that use fresh and filtered outside air to control air quality and moisture, minimizing energy loss and optimizing the air your employees breathe. According to the Department of Energy, these systems “reduce the costs of heating ventilated air in the winter by transferring heat from the warm inside air being exhausted to the fresh (but cold) supply air. In the summer, the inside air cools the warmer supply air to reduce ventilation cooling costs.”

Did you know, fresh air in the workplace can reduce the number of sick leave reports up to 35%? Helping employees stay healthy with a climate-controlled environment keeps your business healthy.

2 HVAC techs placing a roof system on a building

Indoor Air Quality & Temperature Play a Significant Role in Productivity at Work

Do you face the constant challenge of not only keeping employees but motivating the ones you already have to produce quality work? Does your company experience too many sick days and worker health issues? Surprisingly and silently, unpleasant indoor air quality and uncomfortable temperatures play a significant role in health, motivation, and overall worker production.

Now that you know the three main ways to improve your business’s indoor air quality and temperature, you can begin to form a worker productivity strategy based on revisiting your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

To increase productivity for your company, improve indoor air quality with custom solutions that make your facility safer for employees while encouraging higher production. Contact us today. 314-432-7655