How To Read A Melink T&B Report

Understanding HVAC test and balance reports can be a challenge, especially for busy facility managers. Knowing you have limited time and likely several facilities to oversee, we’ve put together this simple guide to help you navigate your Melink T&B reports.  If you don’t have your T&B report on hand, see our Melink T&B page for a sample report by clicking here, navigate to the “Stay Informed” section.

 

Melink T&B Certified Test Adjust Balance Report
1.  Review the report’s Cover page carefully. Be sure the information is accurate, including the facility’s location, store number if applicable and original visit date. This is vitally important if you have multiple facilities. While you’re in review mode, confirm the names, phone and fax numbers, and email addresses on the Test And Balance Contact Information page.
Field Summary Corrections ABCD Restaurant 2.  Concentrate on the Field Summary: Corrections pages. This section basically is the written story of what Melink’s T&B technician(s) did at your facility during the site visit. It gives a breakdown of who the technician talked with, what kind of equipment was used for the testing and balancing, inspections and adjustments that were made, and any other important actions and observations.
Field Summary Corrections ABCD Restaurant 3.   Consider the Field Summary: Punch List your action steps section of the report. The Punch List details the remaining deficiencies of your facility’s HVAC/mechanical systems, along with instructions for corrections. (Please remember the corrections are necessary to comply with design specifications.)

At the bottom of each Punch List page is a box that states: “Melink recommends revisiting this store due to the deficiencies listed above.” It then gives choices of Revisit necessary? 30-60 days after opening? Before opening? Do not overlook the recommendations listed here.

Field Summary Recommendations ABCD Restaurant 4.   Read Field Summary: Recommendations to learn what steps your Melink technician recommends you take to improve comfort and energy efficiency. The items listed here are not requirements of the design specifications.
ABCD Restaurant Photos 5.   Understand that the Photos section is simply a photo gallery that correlates with the Field Summary: Punch List. The photos are listed in order of importance, with the highest-level deficiencies listed first. The Photos section also cites best practices and gives credit where it is due.
Rooftop Inspection ABCD Restaurant 6.  The Rooftop Inspection,Above Ceiling Inspectionand Below Ceiling Inspection sections give you a quick way to see all the checklist items. The √ indicates the action was completed; an X indicates a deficiency (this is noted in the Punch List section too); and N/A means Not Applicable.
Building Air Balance ABCD Restaurant 7.   Detailed readings in the Building Air Balance, Motor Load Summary, Rooftop Units Data, Air Distribution Data, Exhaust Fan Data, Kitchen Hood Data andThermostat Settings sections are available for those interested in digging deeper. Most important are the Field Summary: Corrections, Field Summary: Punch List, Field Summary: Recommendations and the Melink recommendation box located at the bottom of each Punch List page.
Building and Rooftop Layout ABCD Restaurant 8.  And lastly, the Building and Rooftop Layout section on the final pages of the T&B report is a key that shows where your building’s HVAC-related equipment is located. Each piece of equipment is assigned a numbered code that corresponds to review sections of the report. (The Abbreviations page near the top of the report also is a helpful way to learn names of the equipment noted on these pages.)

“We want facility managers to understand how important it is to follow through on the Punch List items then have us back for a final visit, if necessary, to verify the work was completed properly,” says Derick Ramos, regional network manager of Melink’s T&B business unit. “A lot of times, facility managers don’t know if the fixes were made as instructed, so a re-visit is critically important. Our overriding goal is making sure the building is working properly for the owner.”

Troubleshooting Air Balance With Mechanical Contractors

Are you still experiencing HVAC comfort or efficiency problems?  It’s time for the next level of technical HVAC skill.  Though at this point you may have realized you’re dealing with negative building pressure, you might wait on calling the air balance contractor and first become more informed about the problem with your management team.  It’s time to call in your trusted mechanical contractor (MC).

Your contractor’s first steps will be to inspect many of the same areas we advised in our previous post. These areas should include circuit breakers, thermostats, as well as the areas listed below.  In addition, you should locate any past air balance reports and confirm that all the punch list items were corrected.  With these observations and baseline data as your starting point, you or your MC can begin to formulate a hypothesis. To dig deeper into problems, check the following areas where we most frequently find the causes of HVAC comfort issues:

1.   Filters inside the unit

Dirty, old, or clogged filters will restrict airflow through the unit.  Filters should be at least replaced quarterly for a commercial unit and can be added as part of a preventative maintenance scope of work.  In the Restaurant Facility Management Association’s Facilitator Magazine, Red Lobster Facility Manager Angela Hughes writes in her article Staying On Top of Comfort Concerns, “The washable metal filters inside each makeup air fan need to be cleaned during major preventative maintenance.  These are often overlooked by HVAC preventative maintenance vendors.  Dirty filters can block airflow into the unit and greatly affect the building balance.  If the filters are damaged or missing, be sure to replace them.”

Dirty air filters

Above: Dirty Outdoor Filters

 

2.  Inspect coils inside units

Dirty, clogged, or frozen coils can also heavily restrict airflow through the unit. Mechanical contractors are equipped to unfreeze and clean coils.  Angela Hughes explains, “Dirty coils will cause the unit to freeze up and temporarily shut down, which causes stress on the compressors.”  Further, if the rooftop unit (RTU) blower compartment and/or coils are dirty, then they are likely causing reduced airflow and contaminated air.  The solution is to clean internal components of the RTU.

Frozen evaporator coil
 

Above: Frozen Evaporator Coil

Dirty RTU blower compartment

Above: Dirty Rooftop Unit Blower Compartment
 

RTU dirty coil

Above: Dirty blower wheel inside Rooftop Unit

3.   Check refrigerant levels

Low refrigerant levels can lead to uncomfortably warm temperatures. Your mechanical contractor should be equipped to refill refrigerant.

 

4.   Open up units and inspect outside air dampers

The amount of outside air is specified in the building’s design, however it is often adjusted later as a quick-fix for short term issues, leading to bigger problems in the long run.  It is common to find improperly installed and inoperable outdoor air dampers, which negatively impact the building pressure.   The dampers will need to be adjusted to proper position and outside air intakes may also need to be installed to achieve desired airflow.

Improperly installed air dampers
 

Above: Improperly Installed Outside Air Dampers (sealed closed with caulk)

 

5.   Check for negative building pressure in your facility

The tell-tale sign of negative building pressure can be found with using the door test.  A quick way of checking your building’s air pressure is to test it with a lighter or a match at an exterior door.  Crack the door open and place a lighter in the crack as pictured below.  If the flame pulls toward the inside of building, then the building is negative.

Door lighter test

 

Above: If flame pulls toward inside of building, the building is negative.

 

6.  Has your facility undergone a remodel, renovation, or a major change in equipment?

Remodels, renovations, or major equipment replacements change the distribution of airflow and requires an air balance service.  HVAC equipment installed in a building will not function at design specification at start up.  Adjusting the system to design specification requires testing, adjusting, and balancing.

These are 6 examples of what your mechanical contractor may discover in their assessment process.  If they are able to find and properly resolve the HVAC comfort or efficiency issues, then your troubleshooting may end here.  If not, you may need to consider calling in a certified test and balancing firm.  See our next post in this series for understanding what to look for in a test & balance contractor.

Additional Reading:

  1. Bringing in an Air Balance Contractor, Larry Moore, Melink Test & Balance
  2. Angela Hughes, a Red Lobster Facilities Manager with distinguished technical knowledge of HVAC systems, authored a very practical approach for FMs to self-diagnose comfort problems without prematurely spending money on contractors. Staying On Top Of Comfort Concerns
  3. For suggestions on preparing for an air balance, read Optimizing Air Balance Report Data  by Greg DuChane, Retail-Restaurant Vertical Market Director at Trane
Resources:

DuChane, Greg. “Optimizing Air Balance Report Data.” Trane Tracks (Apr. 2015): n. pag. Trane. Web.

Hughes, Angela. “Staying On Top Of Comfort Concerns.” Facilitator Magazine Apr/May (2015): 66. Restaurant Facilities Management Association, 25 June 2015. Web. 26 Aug. 2015.

Melink Test & Balance Technicians. HVAC Deficiency Images. Digital image.Melink Test & Balance. Melink Corporation, n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2015. .

3 Steps to Troubleshooting Your Facility’s HVAC With Onsite Staff

Have you identified that your facility is experiencing a potential air balance problem?  You might be experiencing doors that are hard to open, uncomfortable temperatures, poor smoke capture, odors, drafty areas, or any combination of the other common sick building symptoms.  The inevitable question at this stage is, “Who is best to resolve this?” Bringing in your facility’s mechanical contractor may be your first instinct, but troubleshooting with your onsite managers is actually the best place to start. Work through the following questions with your facility’s day-to-day manager:  

1.  Is the equipment running?

As basic as this may come across, it is absolutely crucial to check if all HVAC equipment is operating. Check all grilles to see if air is being blown out or sucked in. Check the equipment on the roof, can you hear the fans from the RTU, MUA, or EF units spinning? Have the manager record and communicate findings.

2.  Check the thermostats

Navigate to the wall mounted thermostats and ensure that they have the proper set points. Often, a thermostat is installed and connected to the system and then left alone. When this occurs the thermostat is left at factory settings which is often set at a random temperature, maybe even 100 degrees Fahrenheit!  Your staff should be able to follow the directions on this thermostat to program it for the desired temperatures.  As well, check the thermostats for “Fan ON.”

Thermostat

3.  Check the Circuit Breakers

Check your indoor and outdoor circuit breakers. Observe if any of them have tripped or been switched to “Off.” DO NOT flip the breaker back on. If it is tripped or left off, there is likely a reason for it and you don’t want to risk frying the electrical systems. We recommend calling an electrician for this type of deficiency.

 

Armed with your findings from these simple tests, you may have been able to save some money with a Do-It-Yourself fix.  It’s possible that the journey back to a healthy building ends here.  But if the problem persists, it’s time for the level of technical know-how. Call the mechanical contractor. With your observations to these preliminary steps above, you can approach your mechanical contractor with information that will help them to better understand your situation and get you closer to achieving a healthy building.

The #1 Air Balance Bummer: Negative Building Pressure

What’s the first thing you experience when you arrive at a restaurant? You might say the delicious aromas, lighting, and possibly the smiling hostess asking how many are in your party. But the very first thing anyone experiences is the door. How many times have you found yourself struggling to open the darned restaurant door? You pull the handle, but it won’t budge. You try the other handle, to no avail. You think, “There’s no way this is locked, it’s the middle of the lunch rush and I can see people inside.” With all your strength, you finally crack it open and squeeze through. You might feel a large draft on your back and then, finally, slam! Woman pulling on door

 If this common door problem has happened to you, how many times do you think it has happened to customers entering one of your restaurants? While your first hypothesis may be that it is a door hinge problem, it is actually part of a larger problem: negative building pressure. And that is just one symptom of a sick building.

 Sick Building Syndrome is a serious situation restaurant facility managers and owners cannot afford to take lightly.

Check out these three must-know tips:

  1. Know what to look for. This simple illustration shows the most common problems related to HVAC air balance, which cause sick building syndrome.  Educate your teams as well.

Unbalanced HVAC system problem graphic

  1. Assign someone at each restaurant location – the store manager or maybe a shift leader – to watch for these sick building symptoms. Give them a process for reporting these problems so you have a record of the issues.  View our Sick Building Syndrome white paper and distribute to your teams for diagnosing comfort problems.
  1. Don’t just take it from us, read more on this important topic from expert Rob Falke, How to Measure Building Pressures, published on ContractingBusiness.com, an online industry publication.