Fall and Winter Care for Commercial Rooftop Units

Worker changing a rooftop units filter.

All commercial HVAC systems need fall and winter care to keep them running efficiently. This directly affects your bottom line, as efficient HVAC systems cost less to operate all the way around. But commercial rooftop systems especially need the care, since they’re exposed to the great outdoors in Kent, WA, where Mother Nature can throw curveballs their way. Before the change of seasons hits full swing, Electromatic Refrigeration, LLC recommends you scheduling your professional maintenance appointment to keep your rooftop unit performing to its full capacity when you need it.

Regular Maintenance Always Recommended

HVAC professionals, as well as HVAC manufacturers, always recommend consistent preventive maintenance on HVAC systems. Keeping up with cleaning your system and checking to be sure all the components are in good condition avoids bigger costly issues or unexpected catastrophes. Although some folks tend to forget about their rooftop units, since out of sight, out of mind is true everywhere, rooftop units really require that regular maintenance because of their exposure to the elements. Parts crack, get dirty, dry out. With regular checkups, a trained, professional technician can spot a component that’s changed for the worse since its last appointment and address it. Having your technician keep a service log for your rooftop unit is highly beneficial. The log can note history, troubleshooting, and scheduled maintenance. If you notice the technician doesn’t keep one, bring it up. Don’t be shy. You don’t need to have HVAC training to set up a log and request your technician to use it.

What Should Be Done?

A good rule of thumb for regular maintenance is once a year, typically before the start of the season. However, you and your technician may prefer basing your schedule on your system’s hours of operation and conditions under which the units run instead, which could be a biannual service contract rather than an annual one. But whatever you set up, there are some basic checkpoints for your technician, and in some cases you, to hit during any fall and winter maintenance for your rooftop unit:

•  Change the filters. Rooftop units are especially susceptible to dirt and debris clogging the airflow in an HVAC system due to their outdoor locale. Rooftop-unit filters need to be changed a minimum of three to four times a year to keep your system running efficiently.

•  Calibrate the thermostats. Be sure all the thermostats are in agreement with temperature settings. Having some thermostats with large discrepancies from others can result in inefficient systems, costing you money. Another possible consequence is having both the heating and cooling systems running simultaneously.

•  Clean and check general system components. Inspect and clean both evaporator and condenser coils, check compressor levels, check and clean fan motor bearings, outdoor air inlet screens, all fans and belts, combustion air blower, main burners, and flue gas passageways. Lubricate all moving parts, and replace any worn or damaged belts and fans. Check the economizer (if present) to be sure it’s working correctly along with the ventilation settings.

•  Inspect for general sturdiness. Be sure all panels are secure, door hinges and ductwork connections are tight, and all seams are sealed. Replace any missing screws or bolts, and tighten those that are there.

•  Winterize cooling systems. Take steps to prepare the cooling system for colder temperatures. This might include shutting down your chiller or draining your cooling tower. Also drain and protect the condensate pan to avoid it freezing up while not in use. 

•  Keep tools handy for seasonal issues. Your technician will come prepared with his or her tools necessary for the tasks at hand. But you should have an extension ladder handy for roof access, not only for your technician but in the event you need to get up there. Have those shovels nearby as well to dig out your rooftop units from snowdrifts or simple snow accumulation should the need arise.

•  Take a monthly walkaround. To help keep your rooftop unit in good order, make it a practice to regularly look around your units. Check for debris, leaves, or paper that could be interfering with your unit’s airflow or even laying nearby. One good wind could carry them straight to your unit instead of off the roof. Also keep a lookout for loose panels or screws.

•  Be ready once the snow hits. Once the colder temperatures are here and snow’s a regular occurrence, be prepared to get on the roof to check your units. This is when your ladder and shovels will come in handy. Having your units encased in a snowdrift negatively affects airflow, thus decreasing your system’s efficiency, maybe even stopping it all together. Be sure your units are clear to operate in their highest capacity. If and when you find yourself shoveling the snow from the unit’s vicinity, take special care to not hit the unit with your shovel. Even the slightest hit or ding to a coil’s fins can have big consequences. If you find your coil covered as well, take a gentle brush and wipe the snow away slowly and carefully. Or call a professional in. He or she has specific tools to handle the situatio

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Call us at 206-624-3370!