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  • Writer's pictureKrystal Morrell

The Chilling Truth: How Freezing Weather Impacts Commercial HVAC Coils

Updated: Jan 22


City during winter

Introduction:

As winter blankets the landscape in a glistening coat of ice and snow, commercial HVAC systems face a formidable adversary – freezing weather. While these systems are designed to endure harsh conditions, extreme cold can take a toll on one of their most crucial components: the coils. In this article, we'll explore the adverse effects of freezing weather on commercial HVAC coils, what signs to watch for when assessing damage, and when it's time to consider a replacement.

I. How Freezing Weather Can Damage Commercial HVAC Coils:

  1. Frost and Ice Buildup: Freezing temperatures can cause moisture in the air to condense and freeze on the coils. Over time, this buildup of frost and ice can reduce the coils' efficiency by insulating them, making it harder for them to transfer heat.

  2. Coil Corrosion: When coils are exposed to freezing weather and moisture, they become susceptible to corrosion. This corrosion can weaken the coils' structural integrity, leading to leaks and decreased performance.

  3. Expansion and Contraction: Extreme temperature fluctuations can cause the metal in the coils to expand and contract rapidly. This constant expansion and contraction can result in stress fractures and eventually lead to coil failure.

II. What to Look for When Assessing Coil Damage:

  1. Reduced Heating/Cooling Efficiency: One of the most noticeable signs of coil damage is a decrease in heating or cooling efficiency. If your HVAC system struggles to maintain the desired temperature, it could be a result of damaged coils.

  2. Ice or Frost Buildup: Excessive ice or frost on the coils, especially in areas where it shouldn't be present, is a clear indicator of an issue. It can obstruct airflow and reduce system performance.

  3. Leaks or Drips: Inspect the area around the coils for any signs of leaks or drips. Corrosion or physical damage can lead to refrigerant leaks, which can be harmful to both the system and the environment.

  4. Unusual Sounds: Unusual hissing or bubbling sounds coming from the HVAC unit may indicate refrigerant leaks due to coil damage.

  5. Inconsistent Temperatures: If some areas in your commercial space are significantly warmer or cooler than others, it could be due to damaged coils not distributing heat or cool air evenly.

III. When to Consider Coil Replacement:

  1. Extensive Corrosion: If corrosion has severely compromised the coils' structural integrity and is beyond repair, it's time to consider a replacement. Waiting too long can lead to system failure.

  2. Frequent Repairs: If you find yourself frequently repairing the coils due to damage caused by freezing weather, it might be more cost-effective in the long run to invest in new coils.

  3. Inefficiency: When your HVAC system struggles to maintain the desired temperature and your energy bills are on the rise, damaged coils could be the culprit. Upgrading to new, efficient coils can save on energy costs.

  4. Age of the Coils: Coils have a lifespan, and if they are nearing the end of it, it's wise to plan for replacement rather than risking unexpected breakdowns during extreme cold spells.

Conclusion:

In the battle against freezing weather, your commercial HVAC coils are on the front lines. Understanding the ways ice and snow can damage coils, knowing what to look for when assessing damage, and recognizing the signs that indicate replacement is needed are crucial steps in ensuring the efficient operation of your HVAC system. Regular maintenance and proactive coil replacement, when necessary, can help your commercial space stay comfortable, even in the coldest of winters. Don't let the chill take a toll on your HVAC coils; take action to protect your investment and maintain a comfortable indoor environment for your employees and customers.

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