Forus points out the most common reasons that can lead to unexpectedly high bills during the heating season

The warm September postponed the heating period. Forus urges all real estate owners to check their technical systems come autumn. Our technicians very often see unmaintained heaters and incorrectly configured systems, which cause unexpected costs for our clients in the winter.

Forus regularly provides the maintenance of utility systems for both commercial and office buildings. Heating equipment is prepared for the cold winter season in the beginning of autumn. This process involves both system setting configuration and the flushing of heat exchangers. The regular maintenance of the heating system is important during the entire heating period. This ensures that the equipment has a longer lifespan and prevents unexpected costs. It also reduces the environmental footprint.

Working against the systems

It may be that the heating, cooling, and ventilation systems installed in the building are not integrated with each other and do not function as a single unit. However, all technical systems need to be looked at together.

Ville Paltsep, Head of Technology at Forus’ Technical Department, said that unexpectedly inflated energy bills can often be a sign that the heating and cooling systems are not cooperating, i.e. that they are working simultaneously, but in conflict with each other.

Let us take a simple example of a regular office space with radiators and a ceiling air conditioning. When an office worker feels too warm in the room in winter, they often might go to lower the temperature on the screen on the wall. This screen often only controls the settings for the cooling or ventilation unit, not the radiators or underfloor heating collectors. However, the radiators produce thermal energy because they try to reach a temperature that is higher than the one set on the screen on the wall. At the same time, the cooling system is trying to remove excess heat from the room and to achieve the temperature set on the screen, in turn using up even more energy.

Just like in offices, settings must be configured elsewhere in the building as well. For example, there are large outdoor car parks in shopping centres that can be accessed by ramps. In order for the ramps to be used even in colder weather, a heating system has been installed within it. Otherwise, the road would be covered in ice in the winter and it would be dangerous to go up to the parking lot.

The owner or the manager of the building should not forget that all systems should be checked before the weather gets cold, because if it they turn out to be malfunctioning by the time they are needed on a daily basis, the repairs can turn out to be very expensive. It can also hinder the main business activities – car parks on higher floors are unusable, etc.

For example, the same is true for the heating cables in gutters, the testing of which can help keep the drains and gutters free of ice and snow during the cold season.

‘To avoid similar situations and major failures, we work with our clients to review all systems twice a year. In spring, we will set the technical systems for summer, and in autumn, for winter,’ he confirmed. In addition, there are requirements for different devices as to how often they need to be serviced at a minimum.

Clogged pipes

Heaters that have not been cleaned and maintained are another important cause why costs can suddenly inflate.

Most heating systems operate on water. In these cases, it is important that the capacity of the pipelines is sufficient. If this is not the case, the systems should be flushed. For this, a large amount of pressurised water is pumped into the system, removing limescale, dirt, and rust deposited within the pipeline.

Our water contains many minerals and chemicals that settle within the pipes over time and make them, figuratively speaking, difficult to pass through. This also acts as an insulator, reducing heat transfer to the surrounding environment. Pumps will need to work harder to get the water moving.

“This is practical experience. If you have a heat exchanger that is full of limescale and you produce heat and cold within the room at the same time, then it is an unreasonable expense. If the systems have to work 70 per cent more, then mathematically, the invoices are just as much higher than usual,” Paltsep confirmed.

Smart systems

Modern houses are already very smart and thanks to building management systems (BMS), all the necessary information is accessible even from a distance. Forus also actively uses this opportunity to monitor the operation of the systems in the building. This allows you to adjust the operation of different systems, even remotely, if necessary, and to respond to failures. For example, a decrease in water flow may be a sign that the systems need flushing.

Today, technical maintenance has become easier – the more modern systems give a BMS alert in case of a problem and this makes it possible to identify problems much sooner.

There are different types of buildings, but most of them are now controlled by automated systems. This means that the work of various building utility systems can be controlled from a distance. At the same time, the portfolio of Forus also includes real estate where you definitely need to go on site to configure the settings.

Some smart systems in massive buildings with high inertia can adjust themselves according to weather forecasts – if it can be seen that the temperature will drop significantly the next day, the heating system can adjust itself in time.

However, a higher-category failure, such as a flood or a breakdown of the heating system, will require an immediate response from a technician.

Need for replacement

The specialists at Forus also see deprecated technical systems very often. If the repairs are not worth it, they need to be replaced. More knowledgeable customers take this recommendation into account.

As Forus has a very high competence in building and replacing various technical systems, the client does not have to look for another service provider, but can order all property maintenance services from one place.

All in all, real estate maintenance is the same as the technical inspection of a car – regular maintenance is necessary to avoid unexpected expenses, make sure that nothing is rattling or rocking around, and ensure that you feel safe and secure at all times of the year.

Technical systems are complex, and the maintenance and adjustment of the heating equipment should be done before the arrival of a cold snap.

The experienced specialists and technicians of Forus are always there to provide advice and assistance to their clients.

Other news View all

Other interesting news.

Welcome to the new website of Forus

Forus launches aviation security services at Tallinn Airport in December

Forus helped the first supermarkets in the Baltics obtain LEED certificates