Air Handlers – Replacing vs. Refurbishing
In some cases, you may think the clear choice would be to replace an old air handling unit (AHU); however, there are many reasons – not just financial – as to why repair or refurbish alternatives should also be considered as a solution.
Why Buy New?
With a new AHU, you get a brand new product with all the latest bells and whistles, which include the latest technologies and most energy efficient designs.
New AHU Pros:
* Suitable for a wide range of applications
* Can increase unit capacity
* Low energy/high efficiency options available
* All new parts and technology
* Custom-designed units to fit existing spaces
New AHU Cons:
To retrofit a new AHU to an existing system is an option, however, it may be pretty difficult. Existing space and duct runs may make a change out nearly impossible. There will also be many associated costs with modifying the services and steel work to suit the new unit. The cost vs. savings may not be as rewarding in the short term.
Why Refurbish an Existing Unit?
Refurbishing an existing AHU can be a practical alternative to replacing it with a new one. Keeping the old equipment can have its advantages.
AHU Refurbishment Pros:
* Cost Effective – As an example, the refurbishment cost of existing equipment can be around 30-50% of the cost of new equipment (excluding removal and re-installation costs). New components can often be designed to save on crane and rigging costs. If budgets are tight, replacement can be limited to essential items only.
* Less Disruption – Work can be scheduled to minimize owner operations. Work can also be conducted overnight or on weekends. Building occupants typically want as little disruption/downtime as possible. Downtime is inconvenient and could potentially cost money. A solution that will minimize inconveniences and save money in both the short and long-term is worth considering.
* Less Time – Refurbishment is often a faster solution than a complete replacement. As the customer, you can choose to separate the necessary work and complete it at different times for greater flexibility.
* Upgrading Equipment – This could include adding a cooling coil, heat recovery, higher grade filtration, or upgrading with the latest energy saving fans. Increased efficiency means running costs can be improved by a considerable margin.
AHU Refurbishment Cons:
* Increased Capacity – Realistically, the only limitation with a refurbishment will come down to the limitations of the old AHU. It cannot be configured to deliver more capacity than what it was originally designed for.
* Qualified Contractors – AHU refurbishment is a way of life in some other parts of the world. But, here in the U.S., this is not the case. Typically, it can be very difficult to find a mechanical contractor that specializes in this type of equipment work. Luckily, Hunton Services is one of those contractors. We have specialized in HVAC equipment refurbishments for over a decade.
What can be Refurbished on the AHU?
With equipment in poor condition, there can be substantial improvements. Once the refurbishment has been completed, and assuming it has been properly maintained, a good refurbishment can add around 15-20 years of working life to existing equipment.
* Heating & Cooling Coils
* Dampers – Jammed dampers are one of the most common causes of AHU failures and can easily be replaced or repaired.
* Filters and/or Filter Racks – Older units often have air filters that fir poorly thereby allowing the bypass of unfiltered air. Filter frames can be replaced and fit with higher grade energy efficient filters as required.
* Fans – All centrifugal or axial fan types can be repaired or replaced. Replacing old fans with new, energy efficient ones can reduce your unit’s energy consumption by 15-20%.
More custom fabrication/modification options may be available. Call Hunton Services to learn more.
The physical condition and changes to building use (i.e. number of occupants) will determine what can or cannot be done with the existing equipment and of course, financial implications will need to be considered.
Refurbishment can often be a quicker solution and can often be completed with minimal downtime or effects on your building’s ventilation system.
Whether you decide to go with a replacement or refurbishment, remember that routine service, inspections, and maintenance of your units will prolong their life and deliver the required capacities for the duration of their lifecycle. For help determining whether replacing or refurbishing is the right move for you, contact us today.
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