Hello everyone and welcome back to Avalon Equine! Have any of you ever wanted to remove the guesswork from breeding and utilize a guaranteed plan for equine success? Ever wanted a surefire blueprint from follicle to finish line in order to summit such heights as the Triple Crown or the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event? Well, today is your lucky day because I am sharing all of the classified secrets of our certified breeding program in this blog!
Okay, not so much.
Now, before I frighten you away with a technical discussion, please understand I will keep it colloquial and concise.
a.Your indoor air filter should be visually inspected at least once a month. It doesn’t have to be replaced that often if it is clean, but the amount of airborne particulates fluctuates with each season and within each facility (i.e., a system serving a room next to an indoor arena will accrue far more dust than one serving a conference room in your administrative offices) so filters will typically experience varying accumulations. Additionally, air filters having a higher MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating, or a finer degree of filtration, will typically require closer intervals for replacement. Advanced filters are more beneficial because they capture far more particulates than those on the opposite end of the continuum, despite their premium cost, but their one downside is the frequency of replacement. The following is a link to AAF International which provides a brief explanation of MERV ratings: https://www.aafintl.com/en/residential/resources/efficiency-ratings.
b.Consequence: a clogged air filter will seriously negate your system’s airflow across the indoor coil thereby hindering its ability to internally evaporate its refrigerant. This will cause liquid freon to inundate the compressor and eventually cause serious harm to your system’s “heart”. Just think of an air compressor trying to pump water instead of air.
a.Ensure you and your staff keep air vents open (albeit partially) to personal workspaces and common areas. We all remember the Thermostat Wars of ‘29 and the devastating effects they inflicted on work tempo and morale. Accordingly, “the boss” wanted the temperature in his office set at a “balmy” fifty four degrees yet his thermostat served his other six employees’ offices, so they simply shut their vents to prevent the subarctic air. The result was a system with five-sixths of its airflow reduced because it had nowhere to push it-a result as detrimental as a clogged air filter.
3.Keep it clean!
a.Visually inspect the coil of your exterior unit once a month. This is a simple step I would say less than half of my clients over the years have realized need be done. Your outdoor unit can collect all sorts of debris depending on its vicinity to loose dirt, shavings, or uncollected trash, and allowing its coil to remain dirty can cause the highest electrical costs during the summer heat, not to mention the increased burden to your system’s compressor. Cleaning your outdoor coil can safely be done with a water hose and a high pressure spray nozzle, but remember to disconnect the power first! Ultimately, I would recommend contacting your local dealer or referring to your owner’s manual if you’ve never performed this operation before.
b.Consequence: significantly reducing the airflow across your outdoor coil will disallow your unit to properly condense its refrigerant thereby causing significantly higher than ideal pressures and providing your indoor unit with overly heat-laden refrigerant.
a.Keep thermostat setpoints at reasonable temperatures according to the season. Let’s face it, your system is not a miracle worker. There exist many factors that already work against your system such as building envelope inadequacies (e.g., improper exterior wall insulation, poor window design, and boxer hounds who leave doors open after entering-this means you, Stan!), and internal heat sources (e.g., computer servers, incubators, refrigerators, and people). These issues compounded with the debilitating heat of an over 100 degree day can significantly impact your system’s performance and your facility’s electrical demand. Essentially, the system will not shut off because it cannot satisfy your thermostat setpoint. A good rule of thumb for temperature is nothing less than sixty eight degrees. Yes, your thermostat’s gamut starts at fifty degrees and could, in theory, be set there during a cooling mode, but this setting is widely considered within a heating range for winter.
a.Ensure that roof and wall-mount exhaust fans are running properly. If your barn and/or indoor arena were designed to be completely enclosed, chances are that it was done so with a ventilation system harboring a certain rate of exhaust per square foot of floor space (Oklahoma’s is 0.9 CFM/sqft for animal areas according to the International Mechanical Code). Exhaust fans may also be incorporated with more modern attic spaces in your administrative and staff apartment buildings. Here is a link to Grainger which provides a more extensive explanation for exhaust fans and their dynamics: https://www.grainger.com/content/supplylink-how-to-choose-the-right-exhaust-fan.
b.Consequence: a nonfunctional exhaust fan will drastically affect the aggregate amount of air changes required for your facility. This will result in indoor air normally polluted and saturated within an animal environment to remain stagnant and contribute to mold, mildew, and undesirable odors.
a.Keep a log of basic checks and maintenance done throughout the year. This can be a simple spreadsheet with tasks and dates which you created from Windows Excel or a more detailed journal outlining, not only dates of services, but conditions of system aspects (e.g., the status of an indoor air filter from this month as compared to that of last month or what work a service contractor performed during a call-out). This will greatly assist you and your staff in more accurately remembering when maintenance was last performed.
b.Consequence: maintenance could experience longer than ideal intervals resulting in adverse operational conditions like when a system’s air filter hasn’t been changed in six months which causes your indoor coil to freeze to the point of complete airflow blockage and your boss’s office temperature exceeds eighty degrees. Upon a service technician’s otherwise unnecessary arrival, he finds your indoor air filter looks more like a microscopic view of bacteria than a pleated square.
7.Keep it professional!
a.The need for an annual service agreement with a licensed contractor involving the regular maintenance of climate control systems is directly proportional to the size and complexity of your ranch. The largest ranches boast facilities that rival university and industrial campuses, and they require a larger workforce than their smaller cousins. This essentially means that operational aspects typically remain specific to one set of workers rather than one set of workers being multifaceted, such as in smaller operations. Ultimately, larger ranches require a mechanical contractor to handle even the simplest maintenance issues because all other operational aspects involving business prove too time consuming.
b.Having said that, even smaller facilities would benefit from preseason inspections, at the very least, because professional contractors can provide a more in depth audit (i.e., the status of refrigerant levels, enthalpy variants, electrical components, airflow celerity, etc.) before environmental systems are subjected to the crucible of summer. Indeed, passing the full responsibility of maintenance for climate control systems to an outside contractor would be most beneficial, if it is financially viable, but I would recommend shopping around before committing to one company and read between the lines of their contract! Here is a link to Angie’s list which provides a brief description and the basic guidelines for HVAC - Heating, Venting and Air Conditioning - contracts: https://www.angieslist.com/articles/hvac-service-contracts-waste-money.htm
Well, that wasn’t so bad was it? I hope not.
Again, even if you are not mechanically inclined or know nothing of refrigeration, the above information is quite basic and good to keep in mind before and after the advent of harsher temperatures. In closing, I would say the biggest factor to the failure of environmental systems within ANY building is cleanliness! Insufficient airflow is, in the majority of cases other than refrigerant issues, the forerunner of disaster.
Remember: Airflow is your friend!
Happy foaling, Everyone!