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ECEX warns over HVAC kit pollen contamination

The risk of breakdown to externally-sited HVAC equipment is mounting, according to the boss of a leading multi-specialist engineering contractor.

John Grenville, managing director of ECEX, has warned: “Spring marks the start of the pollen season and the threat from pollen, the scourge of hay fever sufferers everywhere, poses a real and present danger to vital HVAC components.

“Air handling units, chillers, dry air coolers, condensers, cooling towers, air intakes and other HVAC systems are all in the firing line. If they are blocked by pollen or other airborne debris such as leaves, insects and feathers, then they will work less efficiently and effectively.

“If they break down or perform less well, the results can be devastating. Apart from the obvious impact on the comfort of building occupiers, consequences also include greater energy usage and therefore bigger bills, higher maintenance costs, and more carbon emissions.”

Airborne pollen is a particulate that can be drawn into equipment to form a sticky substance that then attracts other debris. It occurs in the countryside, but also in towns and cities because city buildings are often surrounded by sources of pollen from trees and plants, including gardens and parks. Pollen is light so it is easily drawn to the rooftop location of HVAC equipment.

However, said Grenville, there was a way to mitigate the effects on air movement plant of pollen and other debris: “ECEX’s air intake screen is a vinyl coated polyester fibre mesh that sits in front of essential HVAC equipment acting as a filter for pollen, leaves, insects and other particulates, with negligible impact on air flow.

“By stopping this debris from entering a system, machine efficiency and the lifespan of filters is increased and maintenance requirements are reduced, all effects which contribute to lower running costs, while helping buildings meet ever more stringent energy efficiency requirements.”

Air intake screens can reduce maintenance costs by up to 75% reduction and extend filter life by up to 60%. At a recent air intake screen project at a London University, energy consumption was reduced by 7%, representing a payback in 1.5 years thanks to improvements in efficiency.

Grenville concluded: “Available in a range of mesh types, depending on the application and particulates, ECEX’s air intake screens offer a simple solution to what historically has been a complex problem, a solution that I hope will soon be a more common sight on both retrofit and new build projects.”

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