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G o o d P r a c t i c e

Guide 188
Maintaining the efficient operation of
heating and hot water systems:
A guide for managers

Good maintenance of heating and hot water systems will:

ensure high reliability minimise running costs


help to provide a comfortable environment reduce the likelihood and cost of emergency repairs
keep systems operating as efficiently as possible help meet health and safety regulations

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ENERGY EFFICIENCY A GUIDE FOR MANAGERS
MANAGING MAINTENANCE

Based on the list prepared in your walkround


Introduction and using the outline in this Guide you can
No matter what type of building your business occupies offices, factory unit, a hotel, or retail then prepare your maintenance plan. Key tasks
premises maintaining the heating and hot water systems to a high standard provides many are to identify:
benefits. This Guide describes what you as a manager can do, and includes:
who is responsible
recommendations for planning and managing the maintenance requirements of your building
what needs to be done
specific maintenance tasks that have a bearing on your buildings energy performance
the maintenance interval for each item
advice on who should conduct the maintenance and how frequently. of equipment.
Whether you manage the work in-house or use contractors, proper maintenance will save you The manager needs to allocate responsibility for
time and money. This is especially true where it has an influence on energy performance. putting the maintenance plan into force and for
Even if you do not consider maintenance to be your responsibility, you may still be continuous monitoring and reporting of progress.
responsible for the increased energy costs associated with poorly maintained buildings and
plant. Effective maintenance procedures can reduce heating costs by up to 10%.
Operations and maintenance manual
Expertise levels It is essential to keep an updated operations
The maintenance tasks described in this document have been broadly categorised into three and maintenance manual for your building. This
levels of expertise. If you are ever in any doubt, seek professional advice. should include:
your maintenance plan
Can be done by building staff with limited training
block diagrams of the building showing
Requires trained building staff or contractor location of key components and controls

Specialist contractor essential schematic diagram of heating system


schematic diagram of controls
operating instructions and control settings
emergency shut-down procedures
names and addresses of installation
contractors and manufacturers
commissioning details
records of any events which may have
affected the performance of the heating
system, such as the failure of a particular
piece of equipment.
Close attention should be paid to manufacturers
instructions, and to ensure that key functions
such as lubrication, filter replacement and burner
cleaning are carried out as recommended and
that service agreements are noted.
In larger buildings operations and maintenance
manuals often include a full list of equipment in
the building and a maintenance schedule for
each item.
One of your maintenance team should be
responsible for keeping the manual up to date.

Planning maintenance and allocating Keeping a record


Managing maintenance responsibility Once a plan has been put in place, it is essential
Your first step in managing a building heating to log the maintenance as it is carried out and
system is to develop a clear maintenance to keep a check on when equipment was last
policy backed up by a detailed maintenance serviced. It is also important to log the frequency
A building is an asset which needs to be
plan or schedule. Developing this structured and type of faults and failures that occur in order
maintained to ensure that its value is not
approach might begin with a meeting where to watch for trends and underlying problems. This
eroded. Maintaining heating systems plays a
maintenance requirements can be discussed will help find solutions to ongoing problems
key part in ensuring that this asset does not
between representatives of all those involved in which may be affecting heating performance
deteriorate. Equally important is the need to
operating the building. If you have an energy and running costs. Good record keeping will
ensure the health and safety of the occupants
manager, then it is a good idea if he and his team help to provide continuity following any
and to discharge the statutory responsibilities
participate, especially caretakers and energy changes in responsibility for maintenance and
that arise from building ownership. Poorly
wardens, as maintenance and energy policies indicate the balance between planned and
maintained heating systems generally result in
are closely linked. reactive maintenance.
uncomfortable buildings, unhappy occupants
and high running costs. It is therefore essential The next step is an energy/maintenance Computer-based maintenance management
to have a planned approach to maintenance walkround of your building. This entails making systems are now available to help organise
rather than react to faults as they occur; reactive a visual inspection of each room and and control the maintenance function. These
maintenance is likely to prove significantly circulation area, and noting down where repair systems provide a structured way of monitoring
more expensive than planned maintenance in and maintenance work is needed. You may costs, breakdown frequency, levels of service
the long run. Managers should always consider wish to draw up a simple block plan of your and maintenance intervals. They can be a
the cost and implications of plant failure when building and mark up key items such as plant worthwhile management tool particularly where

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developing their maintenance budget. and controls. maintenance procedures are complex.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY A GUIDE FOR MANAGERS
THE MAINTENANCE CONTRACT

Reporting faults
It is important to establish the procedure for
reporting faults so that maintenance staff,
whether in-house or an external contractor, are
able to respond quickly and effectively. You
should maintain a list of contact names and
numbers of contractors and manufacturers for
use in the event of a fault or equipment failure.
All personnel involved should be aware of the
correct procedure for recording both routine
maintenance and faults into the maintenance logs.

The maintenance contract

The issues discussed below are directly


relevant to those taking out maintenance
contracts with external contractors, whether for
a single item of plant or a whole building.
However, many of the issues are also relevant
to those using in-house staff.

In-house or external contract?


One of your main decisions is whether to use
in-house staff or an external contractor to carry Contract maintenance Direct Labour
out maintenance. A key issue is to identify
those actions which should be undertaken only More competitive price More difficult to assess costs
by suitably qualified specialists as indicated in More flexible workforce with wide skills Fixed workforce and fixed skills
the manufacturers documentation. Then assess
May not be able to respond to all emergencies Always available to respond to emergencies
your in-house capabilities to see if specialist
contractors are required. Table 1 shows the Contract needs to be monitored In-house supervision required
advantages and disadvantages of using Specialist training and tools included Need to provide specialist tools and training
contract or direct labour.
Table 1 Contract maintenance compared with direct labour
If you opt for an external contractor it is
important to choose a company with a good Briefing and specification
reputation. Ask your contractor for proof of A brief from the client to the maintenance achieve the required performance. Some
membership of the appropriate trade association. manager is required whether maintenance is contracts are now moving towards condition-
A company with BS 5750 and ISO 9000 carried out in-house or by external contractors. based maintenance, whereby equipment
accreditation should give a high level of This should include budgets, levels of service, performance is continuously monitored and
service. CIBSE Technical Memorandum (TM) responsibilities, reporting procedures and maintenance undertaken when necessary.
17 provides guidance on the management of policies such as energy and health and safety.
maintenance and particularly on choosing a CIBSE TM17 provides a more detailed The HVCA, in conjunction with the DOE and
maintenance contractor. checklist of issues that should be included. CIBSE, has produced a series of standard
Many contracts now include performance specifications covering maintenance tasks for
standards for particular items of equipment, eg a range of building services including heating
a boiler must operate above a certain minimum plant. This provides a detailed list of what
Levels of service efficiency. This approach places a greater should be maintained and when, and can be
Your maintenance policy and schedule should responsibility on the contractor to ensure that helpful in developing maintenance schedules
reflect the level of service and response time plant is maintained to a high level in order to and briefing the contractor.
required from a contractor. The level of service
specified can range from breakdown
maintenance reported by the occupant up to
planned maintenance programmes covering Maintenance costs
Maintenance costs will vary considerably BUILDING TYPE per m2
most of the plant in the building. Equally,
response rates can range between 48 hours to between buildings. However, research by the
Hospitals 12-14
less than half an hour. Obviously, a fully Building Services Research and Information
Association (BSRIA) does indicate an Hotels 8-10
planned programme with a fast response time
will cost a great deal more than a reactive or approximate one-to-one relationship Offices, light
breakdown approach with a slow response between energy and maintenance costs of industrial, university 6-9
time. This presents a wide range of choice for property. The figures in Table 2 are taken Leisure 4-6
the manager in specifying exactly what is from CIBSE TM17 indicating that relatively Major retail 3-5
required from the contractor. Your final choice simple buildings like schools cost far less Schools, residential homes 2-4
will have a direct effect on how well your to maintain than hotels and hospitals.
building operates, and in particular the comfort These figures are for overall mechanical Table 2 Approximate costs for
conditions and energy consumption achieved. and electrical maintenance costs covering maintaining mechanical and electrical
You will need to balance these issues carefully more than heating and hot water equipment. services (BSRIA, 1991)

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when inviting tenders or briefing the contractor.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY A GUIDE FOR MANAGERS
CHECKLIST

Maintenance Checklist

Maintenance item Complexity Frequency Responsibility of Checked by Remedial work

Boilers
Check oil burners Quarterly

Check gas burners Six-monthly

Full service Annually

Combustion test Quarterly

Recalibrate controls Annually

Radiators
Vent air Quarterly

Check thermostatic radiator


valves Annually

Convectors
Clean filters Two-monthly

Check operation of controls Six-monthly

Check grilles Annually

Vent air from heat exchangers Quarterly

Examine fans and motors for wear Six-monthly

Hot Water
Service appliances Annually

Check for scale 6-12 months


(depending on
water hardness)

Check tap water temperatures Quarterly

Pipework
Check for leaks Annually

Check insulation Annually

Pumps
Lubricate pump bearings Quarterly

Check pulley belts Quarterly

Controls
Check control settings Quarterly

Check operation of controls Annually

Programming and servicing


controls Annually

If annual checks are carried out before the start of the heating season, maximum benefit will be realised.

The spanners indicate the level of expertise required for each task:

Can be done by building staff with limited training. Requires trained building staff or contractor. Specialist contractor essential.

This table lists major items you need to check. For a more comprehensive treatment you should consult the HVCA document: Standard Maintenance

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Specifications for Mechanical Services in Buildings.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY A GUIDE FOR MANAGERS
KEY AREAS FOR MAINTENANCE

Controls
Key areas for maintenance
Keep a record of the optimum control
settings in your user manual and on the
Boilers wall in the boiler house.

Regular servicing (at least annually) of


boilers is essential to ensure that the system Check all temperature controls by using a
is safe, prevent failures and maintain a high digital thermometer to make sure set-point
level of energy efficiency. A poorly maintained temperatures are correct. Even a small error
boiler often uses 10% more energy and in set-point can incur a large energy penalty.
therefore costs more to run.

Inspect the boiler flame at regular intervals.


Any changes in the colour, shape or size of Check energy use outside the normal
the flame may indicate poor combustion. hours of occupancy. This can give a good
Convectors
indication of the current performance of the
Clean heat exchangers and burners to Both natural and fan convectors require time controls. Check that timeswitches
ensure good operation. regular attention. The heat output of fan are set correctly, particularly for correct
convectors can drop by up to 80% if they adjustment to GMT and BST, as appropriate.
Listen to the boiler - any unusual noises may are not maintained adequately, causing
be a sign that something needs attention. problems with underheating.
Grilles should be checked and cleaned Temperature sensors are often wrongly
A boiler efficiency combustion test should bi-monthly. positioned during installation, eg above a
form part of each service. Checking gas heat source. They should be about 1.5 m
Filters in fan convectors should be cleaned
pressures and adjusting the air/fuel ratio above floor level, out of direct sunlight,
or replaced every two months to ensure a
can result in substantial savings. Also, look preferably on an internal wall, and not
good flow of air through the convector to
at the flue to see if smoke is being close to direct sources of heat.
maintain the required heat output.
produced as this is an indication of poor
combustion. Regularly vent air from convector heater
element, particularly if the heater becomes
noisy or is not giving the correct heat output. The controls schedule should be examined
If you have a sequence controller, make
every year to make sure it is still appropriate
sure that only one boiler is operating in
for your organisation. For example, if
mild weather; if more than one is in use, it Hot water
occupancy patterns have changed, the
may be a sign that the sequence controller
Appliances supplying hot water for schedule should reflect the new requirements.
needs attention. This is also apparent from
hours run meters indicating the lead boiler. washing and cleaning, including all point-
of-use water heaters, should be serviced
annually. They will probably require regular
Simple boiler house records should be kept If the building is too hot or too cold at the
de-scaling in areas of hard water.
to identify trends and changes in the way beginning of the day, check and adjust
the boiler is operating. With a thermometer, regularly check the your optimum start controls, as necessary.
temperature of the water from taps. Stored
water should always be kept above 55C to
avoid Legionella but below 65C to minimise
energy consumption.

Pipework
Every year visually inspect the condition of
all pipework, valves and pumps in your
building. Any signs of corrosion, leaks and
damage should be rectified. Wet insulation
material loses its insulating properties.
Make sure all redundant pipework is isolated.
Check that hot water storage cylinders and
associated pipework are well insulated -
money spent on insulation usually pays for
itself in under two years. Carry out regular
checks for damage to pipe and tank
insulation, particularly in plant rooms
Radiators
and external to the building. Insulation
should always be replaced after any If you have a weather compensator, check
Ensure that radiator valves are not maintenance work. that the radiators feel cooler in milder
damaged, particularly thermostatic radiator weather. If they do not, the compensator
valves. may need adjustment or servicing.
Pumps
If pumps become noisy due to air becoming
If a radiator does not warm up once the
trapped, even when vented regularly, the
heating is on, release any air from vent Correctly programming optimisers,
problem should be referred to a qualified
points to ensure that hot water circulates compensators, boiler sequence and zone
engineer.
freely. If this is a persistent problem, there controls, is vital to efficient operation of
may be a fault in the heating system Lubricate pump bearings and ensure that heating systems and should be undertaken

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requiring the attention of an engineer. any pulley belts are correctly tightened. by qualified personnel.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY A GUIDE FOR MANAGERS
OTHER ISSUES AND FURTHER INFORMATION

and full instruction in the correct operation removing excess paint which is preventing
Other issues and further and maintenance of the equipment and its closure
information control settings.
ensuring that draughtstripping has been
The commissioning procedure should be fitted where necessary and checking that it
Commissioning new equipment verified or repeated after a settling down is still providing a good seal.
Ease of maintenance and access to spares are period. The commissioning engineer should
key issues to consider when choosing new supply certificates which give details of the Frost protection
plant. When new equipment is installed there controls settings and the performance achieved. The controls should bring the heating on in very
is a one off opportunity to ensure that it is set up These should be referred to when maintenance cold weather to prevent frost and condensation
properly in accordance with design specifications is subsequently carried out on equipment. damage to the building, its contents and the
and manufacturers instructions. This procedure heating system itself. Maintenance schedules
should include: should include a check that the frost protection
Building fabric
system operates correctly without causing
precommissioning inspection and setup The condition of the building fabric can have a
excessively high energy use.
significant effect on the performance of your
performance tests
heating system. A general maintenance
electrical and mechanical safety checks programme should include:
Maintenance and safety
compliance with statutory requirements making sure that doors and windows are in
Maintenance is closely linked to the
good working order
ensuring that equipment can be maintained health and safety policy of a site and
correctly. repairing faulty catches and automatic managers need to be aware of their
door closers statutory responsibilities. CIBSE TM17
Handover should include operations and
sets out a list of major statutes covering
maintenance manuals, commissioning records rehanging or replacing distorted frames
maintenance operations. All businesses,
whether employers or self-employed
persons, who undertake gas work on fittings
Further information supplied by natural gas or Liquefied
Building Services Maintenance Management, Technical Memorandum 17 (1994), Chartered Petroleum Gas must be registered with
Institution of Building Services Engineers, tel: 0181 675 5211 The Council for Registered Gas Installers
(CORGI) by law. To find a local registered
Standard Maintenance Specification For Mechanical Services In Buildings (1990), Heating installer, or to check if a business is
and Ventilating Contractors Association, tel: 0171 229 2488 registered, contact CORGI. All work carried
Volume I - Heating and pipework Systems out on or near electrical equipment must be
carried out by a qualified electrician; contact
Volume II - Ventilating and Air Conditioning
the Electrical Contractors Association
Volume III - Controls including Building Energy Management systems (ECA). The HVCA can provide a list of
Decisions In Maintenance, Technical Note TN 14/92, Building Services Research and companies that specialise in maintaining
Information Association, tel: 01344 25071 building services. Telephone numbers for
these organisations are as follows:
Maintenance and Renewal in Education Buildings Building Bulletins 70 and 76, Department
for Education and Employment. D f EE publications are available from HMSO Publications CORGI 01256 707060
Centre, tel: 0171 873 0011 ECA 0171 229 1266
HVCA 0171 229 2488
DOE Best Practice publications:
Good Practice Guides:
16 Guide for installers of condensing
boilers in commercial buildings. Training
Maintenance staff play a key role in
46 Energy efficiency in offices. Heating
running these valuable assets called
and hot water systems in offices.
buildings and should therefore be trained
137 Energy efficiency in sports and recreation correctly, particularly in terms of safety
buildings: effective plant maintenance. and dealing with emergencies. The
Institute of Maintenance and Building
143 Upgrading controls in domestic wet
Management (IMBM) organises training
central heating systems - a guide for
courses, and maintenance NVQs at level
installers.
3 and 4 are available at selected centres
145 Maintaining the efficient operation of throughout the UK. For further details
heating and hot water systems in schools. contact the IMBM on 01252 710994.

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For further copies of this or other Best Practice programme publications please contact BRECSU and ETSU.
For buildings-related projects: Enquiries Bureau, BRECSU, Building Research Establishment, Garston, Watford, WD2 7JR. Tel 01923 664258. Fax 01923 664787. E-mail brecsuenq@bre.co.uk
For industrial projects: Energy Efficiency Enquiries Bureau, ETSU, Harwell, Oxfordshire OX11 0RA. Tel 01235 436747. Telex 83135. Fax 01235 433066. Crown copyright March 1996