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A Breath of Fresh Air: Enhancing Your Restaurant’s HVAC System for Maximum Comfort

Fantastic food and exceptional service are why customers want to return to your restaurant. Part of keeping them happy is regulating the indoor temperature and removing unpleasant odors. Who would recommend a diner when the smell of the fishy fried salmon from the kitchen travels throughout the dining area?

A malfunctioning HVAC system is a recipe for disaster. If you plan to boost your HVAC system, these suggestions can help.

1. Check for Failing Electrical Connections

HVAC technicians specialize in maintaining your cooling systems, although some can do an electrical check. If you suspect a potential power failure in your unit, get an electrician on board.  As some electric malfunctions can be dangerous, an experienced electrician is more suited for inspection.

When do you call an electrician? Instances like you renovating your restaurant or after a storm are ideal. Spring is usually the best time to make upgrades and do maintenance since the summer is usually a hectic time for restaurants. You can protect your kitchen employees and customers from potential accidents related to loose wires or failed outlets.

2. Schedule a Regular Inspection

An HVAC system can withstand environmental pressures for long-term use. However, a regular inspection is still a must, especially after harsh weather. Get your technician to check the HVAC and ensure it functions efficiently. In the case of minor damage, request an immediate repair to prevent expensive breakdowns in the future.

The most significant benefit of this quick inspection is you protect your customers from potential hazards caused by a failing HVAC system. For instance, the inspector might find out the system is short-cycling, or turns on and off repeatedly. It can be due to a low refrigerant or clogged filter. For you, it means a waste of energy and higher electricity bills. If not addressed early, you could pay more for repair later on or a costly replacement.

3. Replace Old Units Before Peak Season

During summer, people often spend more time outdoors. For your business, it implies busy months, more customers and higher income. A permanent fixture of food businesses is a dependable HVAC system to cool the interior during summer.

If you have a decades-old unit, assess if it needs changing before summer. On average, a good HVAC system lasts 10 to 25 years if used properly. Otherwise, the wear and tear due to minor issues can shorten its life span.

Another essential upgrade to consider is transitioning to vertical ductwork from horizontal ductwork. In restaurants, horizontal pipes create a larger space for grease, dirt and dust to collect, often on hard-to-clean surfaces. Vertical ducts are a better option. 

4. Clean Vents

Preventative maintenance can make your unit run efficiently. For this, you must clean the vents as necessary. One sign the ducts need attention is when it’s caked with dirt and dust. These particles can circulate within your restaurant and affect your customers.

Grab a damp microfiber cloth or soft sponge to wipe away the accumulated debris on the surface or outer part of the vent. Whenever you perform a general cleaning on your restaurant, unscrew the vents and soak them in a hot soapy water solution for a few minutes. Rinse and dry before securing them back.

5. Install an Economizer

Unless you already have one in your existing unit, an economizer is an excellent investment to save dollars on the energy bill. It measures the outdoor temperature and if it finds it favorable, it will turn the AC compressor off and bring in outdoor air to cool the area.

A well-functioning economizer can save up to 50% of your energy bill. You get free cooling during the hotter months and a free heater during winter. It cools or heats an area using far less energy than your AC or heater. At the same time, it provides increased ventilation in your restaurant by bringing in fresh air.

6. Change the AC Filter

Dirt and dust can build up in the AC filter over time. An occasional glance at it will determine if the HVAC needs a new one. On average, you should change the filter every 90 days or three months.

However, you may need to replace it more frequently if your restaurant runs around the clock and it purifies a larger space. To save money, you can opt for reusable metal frame filters that are cleanable.

7. Clean the Outdoor Condenser

Dirt, leaves, bugs and dust constantly surround outdoor condensers. If the coil is covered with debris, it will reduce the performance of the HVAC system and trap the heat instead of releasing it. Consequently, it will accelerate the wear and tear on your unit, or cause troublesome breakdowns.

Include cleaning the condenser in your regular maintenance checklist. You can hire a professional or do it yourself. If possible, put a shade over it — the scorching heat puts pressure on the unit and contributes to its deterioration. Condensers are essential to the HVAC, so don’t overlook its maintenance.

HVAC Upgrade and Maintenance Can Improve Indoor Air Quality

A reliable HVAC system is an investment in a restaurant. Taking care of it through regular maintenance can lengthen its life span, allowing you to use it efficiently. Breakdowns can considerably disrupt your operation, so consider an upgrade for old equipment. Following these tips to enhance your ventilation unit can give your customers the best dining experience.

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