How Snow Affects Commercial HVAC Systems: Winter in New Jersey

Snow falling under streetlights on city street

Winter is coming to New Jersey!

We may have been lulled a bit by the winter of 2023 which was relatively mild and without significant snowfall. But this year is a different story, Do you know how snow affects commercial HVAC systems?

You can’t stop a blizzard. No doubt, it’s impossible to avoid snow squalls and deep drifts during a bad winter. But you can take care of your building’s system during the worst of the winter weather.

Guess what?

Weather forecasters are predicting a much harder winter this year.

Both the Farmer’s Almanac, and the Old Farmer’s Almanac, are forecasting a much snowier year, with the heaviest precipitation occurring in the end of December, late January, and Mid-February.

AccuWeather also believes that the winter of 2023-2024 will be snowier than last year for the New Jersey region, along with the metropolitan areas of New York and Philly.  However, because of the El Niño weather pattern, the amount of snowfall won’t be massive.

Some of those storms may bring precipitation in the forms of rain or ice, but not necessarily all snow. (Although ice storms are even worse than blizzards!)

A private weather forecasting service, NY NJ PA Weather, believes we’ll have normal temperatures but above normal precipitation.

Chart predicting near normal temps but above normal precipitation

If these predictions are right, we’re in for a tough winter with precipitation that can affect your commercial HVAC system.

How Snow Affects Commercial HVAC Systems:

Blocked Vents and Reduced Efficiency:

Snowfall can quickly lead to the obstruction of HVAC system vents. As snow accumulates around or on top of vents, it restricts airflow, making it harder for the system to function efficiently. This reduced efficiency not only affects indoor comfort but can also increase energy consumption.

One study by Johnson Controls showed that a 30% reduction in airflow due to snow accumulation can result in a 10-15% drop in heating efficiency.

Condenser Unit Damage:

Snow and ice accumulation on the outdoor condenser unit can cause damage to the components. This can result in reduced system efficiency and a shorter lifespan for the HVAC system.

Snow buildup on the condenser unit can lead to uneven cooling and heating, increasing wear and tear on the system. Regular maintenance and snow removal are essential to prevent this.

Frozen Pipes and Costly Repairs:

Extreme cold temperatures can cause water within the HVAC system’s pipes to freeze. When water freezes, it expands, potentially leading to burst pipes. Repairing frozen and burst pipes can be not only expensive but also disruptive to business operations.

In the United States, frozen and burst pipes cost businesses an estimated $4 billion annually in repairs and downtime, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).

You Can’t Stop Winter, But You Can Prevent Common Snow-Related Issues:

Schedule Regular Maintenance:

Scheduling routine maintenance for your commercial HVAC system before the winter season is critical. Expert technicians can inspect the system, clean vents, and ensure all components are in good working order.

Elite Heating and Air Conditioning designs Customized Care Plans. Since no two buildings are alike, and since different buildings serve different purposes, a generic maintenance plan doesn’t work. We can design a custom maintenance program that fits your facility perfectly, eliminating costly and troublesome problems before they happen.

Snow Removal:

Most people would say that blizzards are no fun. But if you’re a hearty soul who loves the biting wind and the blowing snow, now is your chance!

Get outside and clear snow and ice from around the HVAC vents to maintain proper airflow. Ensure there is a clear path to the condenser unit. Work gently with your shovel and brush to avoid damaging the unit.

Insulation:

Do you know if your building’s pipes are properly insulated?

Properly insulate exposed pipes to prevent freezing.  Insulated pipes in areas like warehouses reduce condensation and keep circulating liquids at the right temperature.

Another option is to add insulation to the ductwork to help maintain a consistent indoor temperature even when it’s freezing outside.

Thermostat Management:

Adjust the thermostat settings based on business hours and occupancy. Lowering the temperature during off-hours can save energy and reduce the strain on the system.

Better yet, invest in a Building Automation System that can prepare for weather emergencies and adjust thermostats appropriately.

Emergency Preparedness:

Have a plan in place for emergencies. What happens to your building if you lose power? Do you have a generator and if so, do you know how and where to turn it on? Know how to shut off the water supply to your HVAC system in case of a frozen pipe to prevent further damage.

The Benefits of Professional Service from Elite:

Regular professional HVAC service is crucial for ensuring your system’s reliability and efficiency during the winter months.

With routine maintenance, expert technicians can identify potential issues before they become major problems. Early detection of potential problems saves costs and lost time. Efficiency improves – which lowers operating costs – when the system is regularly checked. In addition, routine maintenance has been proven to extend the lifespan of your HVAC system. The cost of equipment is significant, so making it last as long as possible is a very good thing!

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Understanding the science behind how snow affects commercial HVAC systems is crucial for businesses aiming to stay warm and functional during the winter. By taking proactive measures like scheduling regular maintenance, planning for snow removal, and improving insulation, you can prevent common issues and ensure your HVAC system continues to provide comfort and reliability, even in snowy conditions.

Call Elite Heating and Air Conditioning, your regional expert in commercial HVAC, to maximize the longevity and efficiency of your system.

Stay warm, stay prepared, and enjoy a hassle-free winter season in your commercial space, no matter how cold and snowy it is outside!