Taking the Pain Out of Mechanical System Retrofits

Retrofitting your HVAC system is a significant and complex undertaking. You realize you can’t simply go online and order new equipment, any more than you can just choose an HVAC contractor from the yellow pages. So how do you find the right professionals to ensure you get a custom design and expert installation? And once you have assembled your team, what key elements should you be looking for early in the design and installation processes? Let’s take a look.

Choosing Your Design Engineer

Insist on an engineering firm that uses a collaborative approach with their customers, rather than an “I’m the design expert and you will not question me” attitude. Clear and consistent communication is also very important throughout the design process. This includes how effectively they communicate information to you and how consistently they seek your input, ideas, and questions.

Ask them to explain their process to you, specifying the people involved, their roles, and sequence of events. Finally, ask about their experience on projects similar to yours, perhaps even asking for references if the company is completely new to you.

Important Design Considerations

You need a retrofit that is designed to meet your specific needs—no “canned” design allowed! Things like air quality, redundancy, energy use, and even noise levels and air distribution are very important and should be addressed during the design phase.

To design an effective retrofit, the engineer needs to fully understand the current layout of your HVAC system. Relying solely on blueprints can lead to installation problems and delays because, often, the existing systems were not installed as originally designed or were changed over the years without updating the blueprints.

To proactively address this potential problem, Brady uses the industry-leading FARO® 3D laser scanning system to create accurate drawings of the existing system components, configurations, and space. This provides an accurate up-front model upon which the retrofit can be designed and recorded.

On the installation side, things often get overlooked or are not installed correctly when the job is passed from the engineering firm to the installation contractor. The 3D scan again provides tangible solutions:

  • An accurate guide to installation that reduces downtime and costs due to unforeseen issues.
  • Much faster project completion due to the ability to accurately prefabricate most piping and duct assemblies’ offsite, cutting onsite install time by up to 50%.
  • Accurate post-installation drawings to assist you with ongoing operations and any future modifications undertaken.

Also be sure to have a discussion about downtime before the design is started. Designs can often be tweaked to allow for shorter duration downtimes. This is an example of when good communication and collaboration is of utmost importance.

You need an energy-efficient, long-lasting system. Always think about maintenance costs over the life of the system and not just the purchase and installation costs.  A quality designer will discuss the options with you upfront and help you choose what makes sense for your facility.

Choosing Your Installation Contractor

A sub-par installation can lead to equipment failures, operational downtime, and shortened equipment lifespans.  As with the design engineer, ask installation contractors to explain their process to you and about their experience on projects similar to yours, asking for references if appropriate. Ensure they take a collaborative approach and have good communication practices. Learn five things to look for when choosing a new retrofit provider.

Brady has trusted these important design and installation considerations throughout our decades of experience with HVAC retrofits. We can perform all design and construction in-house, which means we provide our clients with turnkey retrofit services. No need for the traditional finger-pointing among engineers, contractors, and the customer! Our customers enjoy peace of mind and an exemplary custom-designed system.

Learn more about Brady Retrofit Solutions.