Spring Maintenance for Your South Florida Commercial HVAC

Spring is in the air, and now’s the time to ensure that your air conditioning system is ready to handle the peak heat of summer. Not sure where to start? In this post, we’ll share three simple steps you can take today to ensure your HVAC systems are running at peak performance, saving your business time and money in the long run.

Replace Air Filters

How long has it been since you replaced your air filters? Depending on the load demand of your system, we recommend replacing air filters on a monthly basis. This approach is one of the simplest, most cost-effective ways to prevent inefficient or damaged equipment. At the very least, you should be changing your system filters at the beginning of each season. Dirty filters restrict airflow circulation and don’t filter air as effectively, quickly leading to system issues and a decreased lifespan. Plus, your team can replace air filters in a matter of minutes, instantly improving air quality and system performance for a minimal investment.

Perform an Energy Audit

Between the peak seasons of winter and summer when your HVAC infrastructure demands the most energy, spring offers an ideal time to perform an energy audit. Take the time to total up how much your current HVAC systems are costing you.

Chances are, you’re paying more than you’d like. If so, consider the possibility of upgrading your equipment and total up how much capital you’d be willing to invest in any upgrades. An energy efficiency upgrade can start saving you money right away while making the most of your existing equipment. From there, you can consult an HVAC contractor to see how much an upgrade could save you, potentially offsetting the cost of your upgrades in energy savings. By completing upgrades in the spring, you can be confident that your air conditioners are prepared to perform at peak efficiency, even during the intense summer heat.

Schedule an AC Maintenance Appointment

While there’s a lot you can do to maximize the value of your HVAC systems, there are some tasks that are better left to the professionals. Tuning your equipment up after the winter is one of those things. A springtime preventative maintenance program can reduce the risk of critical a system failure that results in downtime and revenue loss. By proactively upgrading equipment, checking refrigerant levels, inspecting parts, and calibrating your thermostat, an AC maintenance appointment can quickly get you prepared for the summer. After all, making the time for an hour-long maintenance appointment in the spring is a lot easier than having to deal with a day-long system repair at the height of summer.

Contact the South Florida HVAC Experts

Whether you’re ready to schedule that springtime HVAC maintenance appointment, or you need emergency service, contact the highly-trained heating and air conditioning experts at Garrison Mechanical today. Centrally located in Pembroke Pines, we’re here for all of your HVAC installation, service, and maintenance needs.

Catholic School Gift Of Mini-Split Systems Is Heaven-Sent

Fulfilling The Bishop’s Vision: The Story Of The Marian Center

In 1963, 11 Sisters of St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo received a personal invitation to Miami from Coleman Carroll, the Catholic Archbishop of Miami. St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo is a congregation renowned in Italy for its work with people who have developmental disabilities. When the sisters traveled from Italy to Miami in the winter of 1963, they immediately saw what the archbishop had gone to Italy to describe: a great need among the children of Miami.

Within a few months, the sisters were among many others organized by the archbishop, fulfilling his vision for the Archdiocese of Miami to start a school for students with developmental disabilities.

Work quickly began on 50 acres of “rundown property” in northwest Miami, and the archdiocese overcame the challenges, opening the Marian Center to students in the fall of 1964. For the sisters, it would be the first mission of its kind beyond European borders. Today, this school is referred to by some as the hidden jewel of South Florida.

Problems Through The Years

Today, the Marian Center provides educational, residential, clinical, vocational, and recreational services to more than 150 students ranging in age from birth to middle adulthood. Its seven buildings are set like gemstones among a lush landscape with palm trees swaying in the wind. Every awe-inspiring detail is now a legacy of grace and care for the people of Miami thanks to the 11 Sisters from Italy whose faith and inspiration changed Miami for the better nearly 50 years ago. “We thank God for the contributions of those amazingly devoted women and are still inspired by their work. Every day is a learning opportunity for us and our students,” said Thomas Horan, executive director of the Center.

However, according to Horan, one key obstacle frustrated their efforts—the lack of air conditioning at the Center’s 10,000 square foot, single-story school building. The system that was installed when the building was constructed more than 40 ago had a bad habit of breaking down when Florida was at its worst. “We were impaired, and we knew that the old system was on its last leg,” continued Horan. “The conditions were tough on the students and staff and, sadly, we didn’t have an emergency fund for anything of this magnitude financially.”

An Answered Prayer

The answer to prayers came through a tie to one of the school’s former students. Charles Del Vecchio is the owner and CEO of Tropic Supply in Miami, a wholesaler of HVAC and mechanical systems. Del Vecchio and his son Chuck, president of the firm, were inspired to help through a close and personal look at the school’s plight. Chuck’s son, Chris, had been a student at the school for several years.

Through the years, Tropic Supply had covered the cost of repairing the old chiller system. But the building’s existing system, based on a 40-ton, R-22 reciprocating chiller, cooling tower, and dozens of fan-coil units, deteriorated further each year. The key dilemma was the discovery that the chilled water piping, buried under the school, had ruptured. “The sisters and the students were having an awful time competing with the noise of the fan coil units,” said school principal Sister Lidia Valli. “We couldn’t decide what was worse, the hissing, whining, gurgling noises from the old room units, or the heat and humidity we all had to endure,” said facility manager Sister Carla Valentini.

Charles Del Vecchio called Horan, the executive director of the Center, to say that they would cover the cost of new equipment for the school. “Needless to say, we were delighted,” said Horan. Considering the many problems with the old system, the Del Vecchio family and school administrators decided that the best solution would be to abandon the ruptured lines and to remove the chiller, cooling tower, and fan coil units.

Garrison Mechanical Steps In To Help The Marian Center

Garrison Mechanical was the firm chosen to replace the ailing equipment at the Marian Center. “We were drawn to the energy efficiency of new, smaller R-410A systems,” said Bob Garrison, president of Miami-based Garrison Mechanical. “A big advantage to the installation of multiple, smaller systems would be the ability to easily select which areas of the school to cool.”

Planning The Project

When it was apparent that the use of many smaller units would offer far greater efficiency, it was decided that 23 separate Fujitsu mini-split heat pumps would be installed. The Del Vecchio family, with the help of engineers at Formica & Associates, drew up plans for installation of ductless split systems that they would donate to the Center.

According to Garrison, the school building is a single-story rectangle with a central hall and six large classrooms, all of which also have a smaller observation room behind a two-way mirror. There are also several bathrooms, a library, and administrative offices. According to Chuck Del Vecchio, key job site challenges were the many sliding glass walls and the school’s poured concrete roof. “There’s no attic space up there to run refrigerant lines, to conceal ducts, or to hide air handlers. It was an open-and-shut case for mini-splits.” Garrison Mechanical work crews began the job with initial preparations. “Once the grounds were cleared, we framed-out and poured concrete slabs for all of the condensing units,” explained Garrison. “Then, we removed and scrapped all of the old equipment.”

Installation Of New Equipment

Installation of new equipment began in the summer of 2009, with the work moving briskly in phases. “We began at one end of the building and completely installed and wired each new system, placing them online and ready for service,” said Garrison. “This took less than a month, start to finish.” During that time, the Garrison Mechanical crew enacted an earlier plan to make the indoor units fit into spaces where the old equipment had been. Wood enclosures, stained to match other furnishings, were installed to conceal and offer easy access to fresh air filtration, a Miami code requirement. The evaporator units were then attached to the outer face of these enclosures for an aesthetic touch that is greatly appreciated by the school.

A Great Project, A Great Cause, And Even Better Results

The facility received a total of 39.5 tons of heat pump comfort control with air filtration and humidity control. The school is now enjoying a major improvement in operational efficiency. “The difference is amazing,” concluded Horan. “We had become so conditioned to the noise of the old units and their inability to keep us comfortable. Now, just entering the rooms, experiencing the comfort and not hearing all that rattle. It’s a ‘thank God’ moment every day.”