With harsh winters and blistering hot summers, those living in New England condominiums understand the importance of properly working heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
That’s why it’s important for managers and residents to know who is responsible for what and how to properly maintain these systems, which could be a single heating/cooling system for the entire building or individual furnace or cooling systems in each unit. After all, in residences such as large high-rise buildings or townhome communities, a variety of HVAC technologies can be found. HVAC is the umbrella term for the system that includes all the equipment used to ventilate, heat and cool the building, move the air through the ductwork, and have that air filtered and clean for the occupants.
“There’s no one-stop answer for how to maintain HVAC systems in New England condos, because HVAC covers everything from a window shaker up to a larger chiller with air hammers—so it really depends on what type of building you are looking at,” says Jeff Federspiel, property manager/facilities manager of Boston-based Barkan Management Company. “Depending on what property you are at and the community you are in, the most important thing is to understand the type of system you have.”
After all, condos can be small garden-style townhouses or large high-rise buildings, so a variety of HVAC technologies can be found. In one small area on the Boston waterfront, five condos within two miles of each other utilize five different HVAC technologies—window air conditioning units, water source heat pump systems, a chiller system with water cooling, a chiller with air cooling and a chiller that runs off steam.
“Education of the board member, management company and the maintenance people is vital,” Federspiel says. “If they understand the system parameters and what it’s supposed to provide, that’s half the battle.”