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Employee going through facility checklist.
▸ December 1, 2020

As your employees start to prep for the holiday season, your building should start to prep for the holiday season, as well. This prep work includes a variety of winter building maintenance checks and to-dos. To help you get all your ducks in a row for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and beyond, we’ve created a simple winter facility preparation checklist for you to comb through. Take a look at our list below, and as always, reach out to us if you need any help during your journey to prepare your building for winter.

Survey The Exterior

Unchecked Icon Check for any debris on the roof, remove if possible
*Debris will likely include leaves, dirt buildup, and other natural elements that could get stuck on your roof. This might seem innocent enough, but debris goes above and beyond simple aesthetics. When debris is left on your roof for extended periods of time, it can block drains and enable mold and algae to grow. This can also lead to pooling of water, which can eventually lead to leaks.

Unchecked Icon Check for any damaged or missing insulation strips on windows, replace or fix where necessary

Unchecked Icon Check for any open windows or doors (prior to leaving the building unattended)

Schedule Seasonal Service

Unchecked Icon A professional HVAC contractor should test and provide a thorough inspection of all heating components

Unchecked Icon A professional HVAC contractor should calibrate and reprogram thermostats for heating

Unchecked Icon A professional HVAC contractor should winterize cooling-only systems (evap coolers, chillers, etc.) that won’t be running when the building is empty during the holidays

Make Adjustments To Automated Building Controls

Unchecked Icon Notate schedules for vacation, winder hours, and holiday closures and revise the scheduling for any automated building controls

*If you have NPBI installed, keep your blower fan operating at all times.

Uphold Energy Efficiency Measures

Unchecked Icon Check to see if any individuals are utilizing space heaters
*If employees feel like space heaters are a necessity, this could indicate an issue with the heating in your HVAC system. Contact your HVAC contractor if this is the case.

Unchecked Icon Work with your HVAC installer to determine and implement best-practices for energy efficiency during the colder months

Need help getting your building winter-ready?

While our winter facility preparation checklist is simple, there are facets of this list that can require professional assistance (such as activities involving seasonal inspections, calibrations, and reprogramming). If you need any assistance with these winter HVAC tasks, please give us a call or contact us online today. At BMI Mechanical, we have decades of experience helping large and small facilities prepare for the winter months, and we’d love to help you, too.

Download the PDF version of this checklist, print it out, and manually cross off items as you go through our winter facility checklist.

DOWNLOAD THE PDF
equipment replacement and repairs plan
▸ November 3, 2020

For the average business, end-of-year signifies end-of-year planning for investments and repairs. However, it’s not always cut-and-dry whether or not these investments are worth it in the long run. 

Should you bite the bullet and invest in new equipment or should you simply repair what you have and keep moving forward? To help you answer this question, we’ve outlined a series of circumstances that might require equipment replacement, as well as a series of questions to ask yourself concerning replacement vs repair.

5 situations that justify replacement

When evaluating your current system and equipment, here are some particular circumstances that should prompt you to more heavily consider replacement:

Breakdowns

If your equipment is regularly breaking down and causing problems for your staff, then it’s likely time to consider a full replacement of one or more components. You may also want to consider replacement if you’ve seen an upward trend in the cost of repairs over the last few years. This is a good indicator that your equipment is headed towards more costly and longer-lasting breakdowns.

Consumption

If your equipment is old and consuming massive or unnecessary amounts of energy, replacement might be the right choice. New and more modern equipment can have a positive impact on energy waste and cost.

Insufficiency

If your equipment is not operating at a sufficient level, why continue to put up with it? Whether it’s not cooling or heating properly or whether it’s unable to properly ventilate indoor spaces, these insufficiencies aren’t just inconvenient and uncomfortable — they can cost money, lead to downtime, and create vulnerabilities. Replacing insufficient equipment can save you money, keep your guests and employees more comfortable, and create safer, healthier spaces.

Related Content: 3 HVAC technologies that improve indoor ventilation

Changes

If you’ve made any recent changes to your business or facility (from structural changes to the building to increasing the number of employees or guests in your building at any given point), then replacement might be necessary. With new changes, come new demands. It’s important to determine if your pre-existing equipment can keep up with those changes. If it can’t, then it’s time to consider replacement.

Luck

If you happen to be lucky enough to have the “use it or lose it” capital funds in Q4, then use them. Invest in your equipment, so you can operate more smoothly in the coming year. This is more important than ever given the COVID-19 pandemic. Take this opportunity to invest in equipment that promotes proper indoor ventilation and reduces the spread of harmful particles.

Related Content: COVID-19 Reopening Guidelines & Tips For 2021

Replace vs Repair: How to make the decision

The following series of questions can help you make a logical decision when it comes to replacing or repairing aging or failing equipment.

What’s the history of your equipment?

As we mentioned earlier, equipment that regularly breaks down is a surefire sign that things need to be replaced. But more specifically, if you’ve noticed increasing costs or a significant increase in service calls over the last three years, it’s time to speak with your service contractor about replacement. Your service contractor should be able to help you determine where this upward trend is coming from and assist you in narrowing down potential replacement options.

Is your equipment wasting energy?

Back in the day, energy efficiency wasn’t top priority when considering building needs and goals. Now, however, people are coming to the realization that energy efficiency equates to a reduction in electricity costs. In fact, more modern equipment can save you as much as 50% on energy bills. To determine whether or not your equipment is saving or wasting energy, your service contractor can complete a benchmarking tool (such as the Building Energy Scorecard from BMI) to identify vulnerabilities and savings opportunities.

What is the cost of not replacing your equipment?

Your service contractor should have the ability to help you clearly define the financial impact of not replacing certain system components. With a financial analysis, you can determine if the continued annual cost of repairs will be greater than that of replacement. These costs should include energy, service, labor, revenue, and productivity costs.

The first steps to take when replacing your equipment

At BMI Mechanical, we have decades of experience helping companies make the decision between repairing and replacing aging or failing equipment. When we work with our clients, we recommend developing a 3- and 5-year plan that helps prioritize equipment replacement. 

This plan is coupled with a multi-year budget that makes the financial cost of replacement much easier to manage. At BMI, we also offer flexible billing options and short-term and long-term financing options. Don’t forget to ask your service provider if any similar financing options are available, since this can greatly lift up cash flow restrictions and enable better decision making.

If necessary, your service contractor should also be able to provide a financial analysis that determines the ROI of your investments, further aiding you in your ability to make a logical decision as to repairing or replacing equipment. 

Have more questions regarding replacement vs repair of your equipment. Fill out our online contact form or review our additional resources.

preventative maintenance worker hvac
▸ November 3, 2020

As we head into 2021, business owners and managers are looking inward. The end of year is a prime opportunity to plan investments and evaluate current preventative maintenance programs and strategies. But when evaluating these programs, what exactly should you be scrutinizing and how do you know whether or not to make changes?

Let’s take a look at what constitutes a preventative maintenance program and identify what questions you should be asking yourself as you close out the year.

Related Content: COVID-19 Reopening Guidelines & Tips For 2021

What is preventative maintenance?

Many organizations tend to use preventative maintenance as a “catch-all” phrase; however, the ultimate goal of preventative building maintenance is to achieve operational efficiency. 

“Operational Efficiency represents the life-cycle, cost-effective mix of preventive, predictive, and reliability-centered maintenance technologies, coupled with equipment calibration, tracking, and computerized maintenance management capabilities all targeting reliability, safety, occupant comfort, and system efficiency.” —O&M Best Practices Guide

As you can imagine, all preventative maintenance programs are unique (or, at least, they should be unique). Each organization has different needs and goals, which is then coupled with their unique set of tools, equipment, and solutions. While there are standards for preventative maintenance, these standards should merely be used as a foundation with which to launch your own preventative maintenance program.

Although preventative maintenance will look different to everyone, the following is a list of general questions you should be seeking answers for when selecting a service partner for your preventative maintenance needs:

  • How often is service provided?
  • What preventative maintenance tasks are provided?
  • What coverage/protection/warranty is provided for equipment components?
  • What tests are conducted and how often?
  • When are inspections completed and how often?
  • What services are not included (ex. cleaning, replacement, lubricating, etc.)?

The answers to these questions should hopefully lead you to a relationship with a service provider that is mutually beneficial. in other words, you don’t want to end up with a service provider who is rewarded when your systems fail or components break. You’re looking for a relationship that keeps your systems at optimal performance and saves you from hidden costs associated with services “not covered” in your preventative maintenance program.

What are the benefits of preventative maintenance?

The benefits of strategic and customized preventative maintenance are far-reaching. They can have a positive and lasting impact on your organization, and here’s why:

  1. You can save energy: With a comprehensive preventive maintenance solution that provides basic and routine tasks such as coil cleaning and air filter replacement, you can reduce energy waste by up to 25%.
  2. You can extend the life or your equipment: Equipment replacement can be costly to an organization, but with preventative maintenance, you can add up to 10 years to your system and lower the annual cost of equipment replacement by up to 40%.
  3. You can reduce downtime: When you keep your system functioning at optimal performance for extended periods of time, you can maintain critical processes, minimize downtime, and improve productivity, revenue, and reliability.
  4. You can improve comfortability: A customized preventative maintenance program can also be customized to enhance the experience of your guests and employees. Simply speaking, this customization can improve indoor air quality and create a safer, cleaner, and more comfortable indoor environment. Ultimately, this can lead to improved morale and retention.
  5. You can stabilize your budget: When you reduce your need for unexpected equipment repairs and replacement and reduce energy waste, what you’re really doing is stabilizing your budget. You no longer have to worry about hidden or unexpected costs, and you can now effectively budget for building maintenance. 
  6. You can lower costs: Not only can you budget better with a preventative maintenance program, but you can save better, too. Reduce your annual spend on repairs, replacement, and energy, and redirect those funds to other areas of your business.

Even with all the benefits of preventative maintenance, many organizations are still tempted to either lower or completely eliminate preventative maintenance spend from their budget. However, this would be a mistake, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than ever, it’s important to have a system that stays fully functional and protects your employees and guests from harmful particles. The only way to do this is with a designated partner and program for preventative maintenance in place.

Related Content: 3 HVAC Technologies That Can Reduce The Spread Of COVID-19

Questions to ask when evaluating your preventative maintenance program

What systems are protected? What systems aren’t protected?

When evaluating current or potential preventative maintenance programs, it’s critical to determine which areas are and are not protected or provided for by your service contractor. For example, the HVAC unit itself is obvious — but what about server rooms, building controls, and air distribution systems below the roofline? To have a preventative maintenance program that truly provides all the intended benefits, all connected systems and programs must be provided for. Have your contractor outline all areas covered by the preventative maintenance program.

What is the service interval?

For a preventative maintenance program to be beneficial for your company, preventative maintenance actually needs to be provided. While it may seem obvious, it’s a rather simple matter to overlook during contract review. How often are preventative maintenance services provided and what is the rationale behind it? Are you receiving any preventative services that are customized to your system or do they seem to be generic services that everyone receives? It’s important to review frequency and needs relevant to your business. For example, due to smoke and ash in California, air filters will likely need to be replaced more often. Is this something your provider considers? It’s simple things like these that are often overlooked, and unfortunately, this can have a drastic impact on your system.

How much are you spending?

Reducing cost and stabilizing your budget are both core benefits of a preventative maintenance program. But just because you’re on a preventative maintenance contract, doesn’t mean you should switch to autopilot. It’s important to keep track of your annual spending and to confirm that you’re not spending too much on service calls and repairs. As a rule of thumb, if you’re spending twice as much on service calls and repairs as you are on maintenance, then your program is deficient, and it should be reworked as soon as possible.

How is the conflict of interest removed?

We mentioned earlier that you don’t want to be partnered with a service provider who is continuously rewarded monetarily when components fail or require service. If it’s not obvious how this conflict of risk is mitigated, then you might need to scrutinize this area the most when evaluating your service contract. How is your service provider guaranteeing quality of service and what is the incentive for them to do so? Typically, service providers offer preventative maintenance at a recurring monthly cost. They want your system to remain efficient and they want to eliminate potential issues before they become problems. By doing so, they can minimize service calls and reduce the time spent working on your system. It’s a win-win for both parties. But for this to be truly beneficial for you, you need to understand where their services begin and end and what exactly constitutes problems and services outside your service contract. 

What is the quality of service you are receiving?

To help you analyze any services you’re currently receiving or services you’re considering receiving, here are a few questions you should answer:

  • Consistent Technician: Do you receive assistance from the same technician(s) every month or do you receive assistance from a different person every time? Oftentimes, it’s more beneficial to have one or two technicians that are fully dedicated to your account, as opposed to a revolving door of technicians.
  • Response Time: How quickly are service calls responded to and what’s the average length of time it takes to resolve issues? Is there a trend? Have things gotten worse or better over time?
  • Professional Recommendations: Are you receiving any proactive equipment and/or service recommendations? If so, are you receiving a variety of mid-range and long-term options?
  • Financial Analyses: Has your contractor ever completed a full financial analysis on your HVAC system? If not, is there one planned or is there a logical reason behind not performing one?

Related Content: Preventative maintenance case studies from real companies

Have more questions about preventative maintenance?

At BMI Mechanical, we have decades of combined experience providing preventative maintenance for companies all across California. Our technicians and associates know what it takes to create, customize, and implement a service contract that provides all the intended benefits of preventative maintenance. If you need help understanding the ins and outs of your service contract, send us a message today or check out our additional resources.

coffee shop owners working with face masks bmi mechanical ventilation
▸ October 6, 2020

When it comes to COVID-19 reopening, California businesses and establishments are all over the place. You might be fully open, operating at partial capacity, operating outdoors or online only, or completely closed. No matter what your situation is, however, one thing is for certain: 

Your building should be working to integrate new procedures and equipment that limits COVID-19 spread and creates a safer environment for all building occupants.

While limiting the spread of various germs and harmful particles is nothing new for businesses, limiting the spread of COVID-19 is new. Let’s quickly cover the COVID-19 reopening guidelines for critical building systems and provide some insight on how to best combat the spread of this particular virus through your indoor ventilation system.

Official COVID-19 Reopening Strategies + Resources

For official reports and guidance on reopening during the COVID-19 epidemic, we recommend reviewing the documentation and resources provided by ASHRAE and the CDC

Each organization has released a series of handbooks, strategies, and training related to COVID-19. You can find information on the CDC guidelines for reopening schools in 2020, COVID-19 transmission data, COVID-19 workplace guidelines, and more.

According to the CDC, the primary strategy for reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace includes the following tasks:

  • Conducting daily health checks
  • Conducting a hazard assessment of the workplace
  • Encouraging employees to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace, if appropriate
  • Implementing policies and practices for social distancing in the workplace
  • Improving the building ventilation system

When it comes to improving your building’s ventilation system specifically, we have decades of combined and critical first-hand experience. Over the years, we’ve adopted and fine-tuned strategies to mitigate the potential risk your HVAC system could play in the spread of viruses such as COVID-19. 

When dealing with a virus of this nature, there are a variety of factors and COVID-19 protocols to consider when evaluating your mechanical system and implementing improvements. This is why it is recommended by both ASHRAE and the CDC to work closely with a partner like BMI Mechanical in order to mitigate risk both now and in the future.

How to Improve your Building Ventilation System

To prepare for improvements to your indoor ventilation system, we begin with ECiP (Epidemic Conditions in Place) Guidelines. These guidelines are recommended in some form or fashion by both the CDC and ASHRAE. They are as follows:

Building Evaluation & Mitigation Report

This is an evaluation of key metrics that allow us to determine the current state of your system. During this phase, we will need to gather and review any and all documents, designs, service contracts, logs, reports, and manuals. On top of this, we will conduct a thorough inspection of your system, combine it with all relevant data and material collected, and create a full picture of what’s going on with your mechanical system. This will include any gaps, deficiencies, and recommendations.

Increased Ventilation & Increased Filtration

Next up, we will make the necessary changes to increase ventilation and filtration in your space. This involves measuring and tweaking the outside air ratio. It is recommended to have 10%-20% outside air; however, this will vary depending on your particular equipment, building, and day-to-day operations. 

We will also examine and explore your options related to your filtration needs. We recommend using a filter with a MERV rating of 6-8; however, this can vary, as well. Technically speaking, your filter can have a MERV rating anywhere between 1 and 16. A higher rating means that your filter can effectively capture smaller particles. This higher rating also means a restrictive air flow and added stress on your equipment. We can help you identify and implement which MERV rating is appropriate for your situation. 

“Unoccupied” System Operation

Another crucial step is to analyze and make the necessary adjustments to your “unoccupied” settings. This is done to maintain the integrity and functionality of your equipment since extended periods of inactivity can have a lasting negative impact on your system.

We will create an unoccupied system setting and provide you with override capabilities (if necessary) to encourage flexibility and customization.

Additional COVID-19 Guidelines to Follow

  1. Prior to reopening, run your AC system for at least two full hours with the doors and windows open. 
  2. Upon completion, shut all doors and windows and run your system in standard occupied mode for 24 hours.
  3. Conduct a full operational test and inspection of your equipment. This will ensure everything runs smoothly when guests and employees are permitted back inside your building (ensuring continued safety and health in the process).
  4. Every day, conduct an air flush before the building is open for guests and employees. This can be done by running the system in occupied mode for at least two hours.

Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization Reduces COVID-19 Spread

Following COVID-19 reopening guidelines is just one piece of the puzzle. We also want to implement new technologies that clean and disinfect the air in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

To do this, we rely on a technology known as Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization (NPBI). NPBI modules are installed onto your existing HVAC units. These modules work to neutralize odors, kill pathogens, and reduce particles in the air without adding harmful by-products into the space. 

Unlike passive technologies such as UV Lighting and higher rated filters, NPBI leverages cold plasma to create electrically charged oxygen ions. These ions go into your air supply to seek out and destroy harmful particles. 

NPBI is recommended by both ASHRAE and the CDC and can provide lasting benefits for your organization. Even if (or when) a COVID-19 vaccine is found, NPBI can help with allergies, odors, and the flu season.

BMI Mechanical is here to help you reopen safely

Our team at BMI Mechanical is here to help you create a safer environment for your guests and employees. We want to make sure your mechanical system has what it takes to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep your space clean for all those inside it.
If you need help understanding and following COVID-19 reopening guidelines for your ventilation and filtration system, give us a call today or fill out our online contact form. We’d love to help you reopen safely.

abstract wave of red glitter particles dust animation
▸ October 2, 2020

With businesses preparing to safely reopen their doors for guests and employees, more and more business owners and managers are left wondering: Can HVAC technology help reduce the spread of COVID-19, and if so, what technology is the most effective?

Luckily, there is HVAC technology that can help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 indoors and limit the potential for exposure in the process. However, before we discuss those technologies, it’s important to remember that your HVAC system can only do so much. It is still critical to practice all COVID-19 reopening guidelines and measures recommended by the CDC, ASHRAE, and your HVAC partner.

Let’s take a look at some of the most effective ways you can reduce the spread of COVID-19 through your HVAC system.

Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization (NPBI)

We thought it best to kick things off with our go-to method of reducing COVID-19 spread in the workplace and public buildings. Known as Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization (or NPBI), this HVAC technology cleans and disinfects the air by sending electrically-charged ions into the air. Upon being released, these ions get to work — neutralizing odors, killing pathogens, and reducing unwanted particles in the air.

NPBI both attaches to and attacks any living particle in the air. The released ions can pull Hydrogen atoms out of cells, killing the microorganism in the process. At the same time, it increases the size of the particles, allowing your existing filter to effectively capture them.

NPBI can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by 99.4% in 30 minutes. 

MERV 13 Air Filters

A MERV 13 air filter won’t be able to get the job done like NPBI can. But as far as HVAC technologies are concerned, this is often considered the next best thing against the COVID-19 fight.

That being said, it doesn’t put up much of a fight.

Most HVAC systems are not equipped to handle a MERV 13 air filter, and they are significantly more expensive to replace and maintain. With NPBI, you only have to worry about the one-time fee of purchase and installation, and it should have no negative impact on your pre-existing HVAC system.

To make matters worse, the COVID-19 virus is only 0.125 micron in size. MERV 13 filters capture roughly 50% of particles between the size of 0.3 micron and 1 micron. The only way your MERV 13 filter will capture the COVID-19 virus is if it’s attached to a larger particle. 

In other words, it won’t get the job done well enough. 

This is why we rely on NPBI technology. You need a technology that actively seeks out and destroys the COVID-19 virus. You can’t rely on a passive technology such as a MERV 13 air filter.

UV Lighting Kits

Generally speaking, UV light is an effective method of disabling and killing pathogens. However, there are certain parameters that must be met before this can happen. The UV light has to be at the right level for the right amount of time for any pathogen-killing to occur. This is often easier said than done since the bulb itself can lose efficacy over time (which means… it won’t be at the right level 100% of the time). 

While routine maintenance is an option, it’s costly and certainly not a foolproof way of ensuring pathogens are being stopped. (Did we mention that NPBI requires no routine maintenance?)

To top things off, UV light has a tendency to degrade the interior of HVAC systems (everything from wiring to duct lining to filter media). This only adds up to more maintenance, more money, and more problems down the line. 

Long story short, when it comes to airborne transmission of viruses like COVID-19, NPBI trumps UV lighting kits.

BMI Mechanical is here to help!

If you need help installing and maintaining a new HVAC technology to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in your building, we can help.

We have decades of combined experience helping companies all over California improve indoor air quality and as a result, create a safer space for their guests and employees.
Give us a call today or fill out our online contact form to learn more.

▸ July 2, 2014

By Luis Hernandez BMI Mechanical Chief Operating Officer Dax Brott said he was genuinely excited when the Tulare-based, family-owned company won the California Family Business of the Year award given out by the Institute for Family Business. Read More ▸

▸ April 25, 2014

By Gabriel Dillard It was a reunion of sorts for Tulare County’s own “Flying Burrito Brothers” amateur volleyball team at the 25th annual California Family Business Award dinner last night in Fresno. Read More ▸

▸ July 14, 2012

By Donna-Marie Sonnichsen An outpouring of support from throughout the county to a local museum has shown once more the heart the people of Tulare County have. Read More ▸

Factoid

Buildings that earn the Energy Star label use about 35% less energy than average buildings. Linc

BMI Mechanical, Inc. has a long legacy of quality craftsmanship and customer service that is unmatched in the HVAC and mechanical world. They do not offer a diluted discounted product, but they do provide the best quality work in the business. Chad Buechel Former Operations Manager Pepsi Bottling Group

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