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Historic Buildings and Commercial HVAC: Retrofitting Tips

The HVAC Challenges of Older and Landmark Commercial Buildings

Commercial HVAC Retrofit
We’re guessing this probably needs an HVAC retrofit.

San Gabriel Valley is famous for many architectural landmarks. Indeed, our historic buildings are part of what define this lovely area for businesses and residents alike. However, when it comes to owning an old building as part of a commercial property portfolio, the joys of these gorgeous structures can be more complicated, especially when it comes to HVAC.

In fact, hot summer days or cold winters can be particularly difficult for commercial landlords struggling to maintain indoor comfort for their tenants. And considering the real dangers of portable space heaters and electric fans (not to mention their energy inefficiency), addressing this issue is an important and necessary challenge.

While there are no easy solutions, there are a few caveats that may be helpful when considering an upgrade, retrofit or even just HVAC repair for an older building.

Think About Systems That Don’t Require Ductwork.

A variable refrigerant flow HVAC system could be your answer. These don’t use ductwork, which means you don’t have to cut into walls or ceilings, potentially damaging existing structural elements. Quiet and easy to use, these products feature several air handlers that can be placed quite unobtrusively, taking up little space while operating very efficiently. They can be easily zoned and work well for a multi-tenant setup.

Like a sophisticated VRF system, minisplits could also be appropriate. They too do not require ductwork to function properly. These products save energy, while working as well or better than conventional systems to heat and cool a designated area.

Avoid Damaging or Altering Exterior Walls or Other Architectural Features

It probably goes without saying, but the reality is that city inspectors do not look kindly on commercial property owners altering, damaging or destroying existing elements of landmark properties without appropriate paperwork… and lots of it. Avoid later hassles by blocking windows, sawing through walls or otherwise turning what could be a one-day job into a years-long lawsuit.

Typically, any reputable and qualified HVAC specialist will avoid these kinds of “rookie mistakes,” but if you’re relying upon an ordinary handyman or “freelancer” to take care of these kinds of issues, you’re asking for trouble. Now might be the right time to mention that Air-Tro has been awarded a Historic Buildings Certification by the Southern California Gas Company. We’re experts in helping to make special buildings energy efficient, while still preserving their architectural integrity.

Watch for Humidity

The enemy of any older property is humidity. Condensation can destroy woodwork, stain interior walls, and become the perfect breeding ground for mold and other dangerous bacteria. Again, don’t trust just anybody to address the challenges of maintaining indoor comfort within an older commercial property. The costs later will always exceed any immediate benefit from a “cheap job.”

If you’re a commercial property owner concerned about the HVAC in your historic or even just older building, don’t waste another minute on needlessly high energy bills and unhappy tenants. Modern HVAC technology provides real alternatives for energy saving upgrades that will keep residents comfortable and your utility bills low. Get in touch today to find out more.

Air-Tro has been keeping California commercial properties comfortable since 1969. Call us today at (626) 357-3535.