High Performance HVAC Air Conditioning & Heating Thermostats
1) Question: Is there a thermostat for a nursing home with a print out for temperature verification?
This is a touchy one and takes me back to the days when I started my HVAC career working in a hospital maintenance department. It also reminds of when I was doing service calls at a nursing home and listening to all the different residents complaining about the temperature. The fact is it is almost impossible to maintain a comfortable temperature between two different people. Someone has to make a decision on the temperature setting on the thermostat and live with all the complaints. For every person who says they are cold there will be a person who says they are hot. When I worked in the hospital sometimes I was assigned to verify temperatures. The hospital had a state of the art direct digital control system and every morning the maintenance chief would get a print out of all the room temperatures. He would also have a print out of all the complaints received the day before. He would hand them off to a couple of technicians and we would go manually verify that these rooms were maintaining what the computer print out said the temperature was in those particular zones where the complaints came from.
While some would think it was a waste of time verifying temperatures when the hospital was equipped with a state of the art direct digital control system the idea of sending a few technicians to all the rooms where the complaints were coming from gave the hospital staff and patients the idea that we truly cared about their comfort and that we really had no control over the temperature because the temperature was set by the director of the hospital via computer control system to maintain a precise temperature. We were simply there verifying that the state of the art DDC controls were maintaining the temperature as designed. Beyond that, the buck stopped at the directors desk.
There are thermostats and dataloggers one can purchase that will record temperatures over a period of some time to verify temperatures. Some are state of the art and some are very basic data logging thermostat temperature readers that will record the temperature over a specific period of time. The information is recorded on a graph or chart along with a time period. These data logging thermostats are often used by manufacturers who ship food and drug products via third party transporters and they want to make sure the transporter maintained the proper temperatures for the product as specified by the shipping agreement between the manufacturer and the transporter. Transporters and shippers most often use the term tattle-tale to describe these temperature dataloggers because it will tell the receiver if precise temperatures were maintained during the shipping process. This can be a solution to see if the proper temperatures are being maintained in any type of environment.
Other kinds of data loggers include a temperature sensor you place in a specific location. These data logging thermostats are powered by batteries and typically need to be set up by hooking them up to a computer and using specific software made by the manufacturer of the data logging thermostat. After a specific period of time you retrieve the data logging thermostat and hook it back up to the computer and download the data stored in the data logging thermostat. You can put the downloaded information retrieved from the data logging thermostat into charts and graphs. Some data logging thermostats also have humidity sensors so you can record both humidity and temperature. See the data logging thermostat video below.
Another option is to check to see if the building is equipped with a Building Automation System or DDC system which controls the air conditioning and heating systems in the nursing home. If so, many of these systems record the temperatures in an archive file called a trend log. These trend logs are used most often by the maintenance staff to verify accurate temperatures and to troubleshoot intermittent problems with heating and cooling systems. The trend logs should record the temperatures of the zones around the clock and depending on how the program is set up will depend on how long this information is saved before it overwritten or dumped by the program. If the building is not equipped with a building automation or DDC system one would have to find a datalogger and probably the best place to find one of this the local HVAC outlets.
Remember, temperature or desired temperature is always different between different people. What is comfortable to you will not be comfortable for someone else. Many an argument has started over the setting of the temperature on the thermostat and unfortunately that is the way it is and probably always will be. You can bet that this problem is not unique with the nursing home where you work but it is the same in practically all nursing homes across the country and around the world. Temperature and comfort are always variable things where we must learn to tolerate a temperature we not so comfortable with because another person or a nameless director has the final say of where this temperature will be set. Perhaps the decision to set the thermostat where it is was based on budget concerns or perhaps it was based on a consensus of comfort factors among a group of people residing there. No matter where you set the thermostat not every person is going to be comfortable and there will be complaints. It's just one of those things we have to learn to tolerate. Whenever I got a chronic complainer I always thought to myself or wondered what this person would have done 100 years ago or even a thousand years ago. These things are usually beyond our control in a public or even private place so we just need to learn to tolerate the temperature as set by the management. In many cases it is beyond our control so relax, throw another blanket on the bed or take a walk and get the circulation going. Another option is a portable fan. There is always a way to make yourself more comfortable in any environment.
Offers residential commercial high performance HVAC advice concerning temperature data logging thermostat and thermostat recorders or thermostat loggers air conditioning heating energy management
Best Advice for Thermostat Installation - Read the Guides
Successful Thermostat Installation Advice - High Performance HVAC wants you to be successful at the installation of your new thermostat so we ask that you read the pages here at High Performance HVAC carefully before you attempt to install your new thermostat. If necessary study the installation guides before trying to install your new thermostat to make sure you can install the new thermostat without any hitches. Again we sincerely care about the success you have at installing your new thermostat so please read carefully and follow all instructions. We are confident that if you follow all the instructions, including the manufacturers and our thermostat installation pages here you can join the thousands of other people who have used High Performance HVAC Guides to correctly install a new device and enjoy the savings a new programmable thermostat can save you on energy use.
Successful Thermostat Installation Advice - High Performance HVAC wants to urge you to always follow the manufacturers advice in the installation guide as the manufacturer has the last word for guidance in installing their thermostat. Sometimes the installation guides can be a little confusing however most manufacturers have a toll free number which you can call if you need help and get into trouble and we urge you to take advantage of this help line if it is needed. We sincerely hope that our guide is comprehensive and we have taken great strides to ensure it is comprehensive however if you get into trouble do not hesitate to call the toll free number which most thermostat manufacturers have for their thermostat and thermostat installation advice.
Finally, this is not rocket science and many people successfully install their own thermostat without any problems. High Performance HVAC has literally help tens of thousands of people successfully install their own thermostat and we hope you will find the same success. However there are a few who do not successfully accomplish installing their own thermostat and end up calling an HVAC contractor to finish the job or fix something because the person did not follow either the manufacturer's instructions or the instructions here in the guide. It happens but we want you to be prepared as a last resort that you may have to call a professional to finish the thermostat installation if you miss something like not reading the instructions as we recommend here in this guide. We do have a disclaimer that you agreed to upon the purchase of the guide that specifically states, "If you choose to use this information for the repair or maintenance of any equipment you do so at your own risk. By using this information you indemnify us for any claims caused by you. By using this guide user assumes all risk of use, damage, or injury and you agree that High Performance HVAC has no liability for damages". And we digress as our lawyers made us place those statements in the guide for those sue happy people.
Follow the instructions and you should have no problems and if you do have problems then call the toll free number most thermostat manufacturers provide in the thermostat installation instructions and if you are still lost call a professional. We can't get any more plainer than that and wish you luck!
Successful Thermostat Installation Advice - Basic Checklist for a Successful New Thermostat Installation
Read this guide carefully and study it if necessary.
Study the new thermostat and new thermostat manufacturers guide before installing the new thermostat.
Always make sure you selected the proper thermostat for the HVAC equipment you have.
Study the old thermostat and thermostat wiring before installing the new thermostat.
Write down all wiring of the old thermostat including the wire colors and terminal designations where the wires are terminated.
Always make sure you have the correct tools as listed in our tool lists before you attempt to install a new thermostat.
Always make sure you have correct materials before trying to install the new thermostat. We provide a basic list of possible materials you may or may not need when installing a new thermostat.
Always turn the power off to all units before doing anything including attempting to change the thermostat. The thermostat installation we are describing here are low voltage thermostat and you will likely not be harmed by touching a live wire with 24 volts however for safety reasons and to avoid damaging the HVAC equipment or the thermostat(s) you NEED to TURN the POWER OFF to all the HVAC equipment including the condenser and the air handler or gas furnace.
Duct Work and High Ceilings - I did not see any reference to my question and would appreciate a response as soon as possible, as due to medical situation, have to make a decision soon. We own an OLD house with 13' ceilings in a large part of the home and 11" ceilings in the LV/DR and BR. We are oscillating on where to place the ducts....Floor or ceiling. It appears to be counterproductive to me to put the duct work in the ceiling since it will have so far to go. We are looking for the most cost effective, not upfront cost but operating cost, solution. In addition, we are considering DF heat pumps. The house will need 2 or 3 to be zoned correctly. Please let me know about the duct placement and thank you for your help?
Closing Off Part of the House To Save Energy on HVAC - I have a Heil gas/electric package unit in my home. I, particularly, want to know, if I can close off a section to save on heating. Heating dealers have not been helpful as they hedge on whether and how this can be done with the system still running at it's most efficient. I have closed doors to seal off area. Then closed floor registers. Should I also close air return in that area? I just read this should not be done at all as it decreases units efficiency? Will you please advise. I am thinking of closing off part of the house to save energy on HVAC. Thank you.
Hello and Thank you for emailing High Performance HVAC, Dorothy, Your registers should not be closed off as it is bad for the unit. The unit was installed based on the size of your home and the needed airflow for the house. This is designed airflow and requires all registers to be open to get the designed airflow through the unit and all the ducts. Closing off registers restricts airflow and is the same as a dirty filter which restricts airflow and causes problems with the unit. I have seen this before and I cover this on the HVAC filter page. In a gas pack it will cause excessive heat build up inside the unit and cause the unit to trip on high limit safety if you close off too many registers as the required airflow is not moving across the heat exchange so the heat continues to build up in the heat exchanger and eventually trips this high limit safety. Leave all your registers open and make sure you have a clean filter to maximize the unit. The best way to get the most efficiency out of the unit is to get a programmable thermostat and run the unit only as necessary. For more information on this see the thermostat pages concerning programmable thermostats and there use. Additionally, making sure you have good windows and doors to minimize heat loss will also help. Adding insulation to your attic space and other areas will also help reduce the amount the unit runs will result in savings and additionally having a humidifier installed will also help you remain comfortable in the winter time. For more information on why a humidifier will help you remain more comfortable in the winter see the humidifiers page.
Thanks for emailing High Performance HVAC. Hope this helps you.
Richard High Performance HVAC - Closing Off Part of the House To Save Energy on HVAC
Richard Many thanks for your very prompt response! What you say ties in with what I read regarding stress on the unit. However, this Victorian "cottage" is 3,000 sq. ft. w/ 12 ft. ceilings is now too big for only my husband and I. Is there not a way we can isolate the unused space and save on heating without stressing the unit? We have done all that you suggested. Storm windows, doors, etc., except for the attic insulation. The company that installed the unit is no longer in business and the man that I got to service it after that died. last fall. I'm in a very small town and the nearest Heil dealers seem to be 40 or more miles away. I did print a list of those I found. Haven't called any yet as I ran across your webpage. My final question is, given the size of the unit, could I convert to 2 zones somehow? And, only heat the occupied part in winter? Thanks for you patience and help.
Closing Off Part of the House To Save Energy on HVAC - Conclusion
No unless you installed a whole new system (two new systems for zoning) or de-rating your current unit and buy another smaller unit. Also it doesn't have to be a Heil dealer to work on the unit. Many gas packs are very similar in design and functionality. Any qualified HVAC tech should completely understand your unit and how to repair it. Not many would know how to de-rate it though. This would likely need Heil involved to give you the engineering data for derating and exactly how to derate the equipment. We are talking about a 2 ton system (I think) so you can't derate too much. Generally the tonnage is the size of the air conditioning and doesn't refer to the heating because the system is designed for airflow for air conditioning. You don't want to derate the air conditioning but you can derate the gas heater side of the equipment. If the unit is older than 5 years I don't recommend this. Richard
Closing Off Part of the House To Save Energy on HVAC
Heat Pump Troubleshooting: Before calling a heating and air conditioning company, check the following:
Defrost Control Board
Check selections on thermostat. Ensure that it is set to the desired settings.
Check power supply. This can include a circuit breaker and or/a regular looking wall switch close to the unit
Check for freezing up of air conditioner or heat pump units. If the air conditioner or heat pump unit is frozen turn it off. Check the filter(s) and supply vents to make sure they are not obstructed in any way. If you find no problems leave the unit turned off and call a service company.
Make sure all your supply vents are open and unobstructed
Keep area clean around indoor unit especially the return grills
Keep outdoor condensing units free of leaves, grass, and debris including trash cans and/or children’s toys or playthings like small plastic pools or playhouses. Additionally your service technician will appreciate you not planting holly bushes near the outside unit
Have air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace system serviced every six months
When you have a problem with your heat pump and need to repair the problem you want to check the basics. Anything beyond that you really need to call in a professional to troubleshoot the heat pump or any type of electrical mechanical equipment you have problems with and need to troubleshoot. Whether you call for heat pump troubleshooting or you call for air conditioner repair or you call for refrigerator repair there is only so much you can do.
Troubleshoot Heat Pumps
When you read information on the web double check that the information is correct.
I read this directly from an un-named article on the internet that has a number one position in a search for troubleshoot heat pumps – “check the heat pumps ignition”. What? Can you say that one more time? It is obvious to me the person who wrote that article has never touched a heat pump in there life and should have never written an article for troubleshooting heat pumps. Can someone please tell me where the igniter is for a heat pump? I’ve was out of the field for a year doing management work and now I am doing engineering work and occasionally going out to the field but I do not think the basic concept of heat pumps has changed that much to include adding ignition systems to heat pumps. If you are going to troubleshoot your own heat pump then please follow the basics above. Beyond that please call a professional to repair your heat pump or troubleshoot your air conditioner.
Some other faulty advice in this bad heat pump repair article is:
“Most of the time when your heat pump doesn’t work it is a faulty thermostat“. I’ve been on many service calls and I have found faulty thermostats. Most of the time the reason for a faulty thermostat is because the homeowner thought the thermostat was bad and the decided to change it. For Changing parts, especially the thermostat, simply doesn’t not work most of the time. whatever reason the homeowner didn’t wire it properly or they didn’t turn the power off and crossed the wrong wires and burned up the heating anticipator or blew the transformer. Unless you have had a lightening strike, major power surge that took out other electronic devices in your home, or someone took a hammer to the thermostat then your problem is probably not the thermostat. If you have problems with your heat pump or air conditioner and want to troubleshoot the problem yourself simply check the settings of the thermostat. Make sure it is set to the appropriate setting. Double check to make sure it is set to the appropriate setting. If everything is correct then you are done at the thermostat. Don’t run down to your local hardware store and buy a new thermostat for your heat pump thinking it will solve the problem. Chances are, if you doing it as a part of the process of finding the problem with your heat pump then you will probably still be cold after changing the thermostat in the process of troubleshooting a heat pump. You can change every single part in the heat pump system and still have a problem with the heat pump. Changing parts, especially the thermostat, simply doesn’t work most of the time.
“The motor may need to be reset” is another thing that struck me from reading this article for troubleshoot heat pumps – Reset the motor? I have not seen many blower motors that have a reset button on them. There are very few out there that have reset buttons on the blower motor but chances are you do not have the type of motor that has a reset button on it. It seems to me the person who wrote this article read an article on oil furnaces or boilers and tried to adapt it to troubleshooting heat pumps. Oil burners have reset buttons on them but not on the blower – the reset button is on the burner as a part of the burner ignition controls. If there are any manual reset buttons on heat pump it is possible there is a manual reset button on the condensing unit. I know of only two manufacturers that have these reset buttons on their heat pumps. Rheem and Ruud. This is not a reset button for any motor but a high pressure reset switch. If this switch needs to be reset on a heat pump it means the head pressure or the high pressure side of the heat pump is exceeding maximum pressure and is killing the unit as it should to avoid damaging the compressor or other components in the refrigeration loop of the heat pump. This means one of several reasons if you are repairing the heat pump. The condenser coils are plugged up with trash, dirt, or other debris like grass, the condenser fan motor has failed, or there is a refrigeration problem such as an over charge of refrigerant in the system.
“Heat Pump trips the circuit breaker” – they tell you to check the heat pump circuit breaker in this bad heat pump troubleshooting article. Which heat pump breaker do I check? A real heat pump has two circuit breakers in the circuit breaker panel for the home and if the heat pump has electric back up heat then it should have another set of breakers or fuse protection at the location where the heat strips are which is usually in the air handler. Yes, a real heat pump (not the fictional dream heat pump they describe in this heat pump repair article) has two circuit breakers – one for the heat pump condenser and one for the air handler. If the breakers are tripping on the heat pump circuit then you have a dead short somewhere in the system and it needs to be addressed by a professional.
“Air Handler Squeals” – they tell you that it is usually the belt. Huh? In the residential market HVAC manufacturers went to direct drive blowers many, many moons ago and stopped distributing units that are belt driven. 99.9% of heat pump air handlers out there installed in homes are direct drive. Finding a belt driven blower in residential systems is akin to to finding a Model T. If you are using a heat pump this old then it is probably time to replace the system and not the belt.
Okay, I’m done commenting on that bad article for finding and fixing a problem heat pumps. Some of the information in that article is okay although general knowledge. If troubleshooting heat pumps is your profession please go ahead and fix it if you have a problem with your heat pump. Chances are you are not a professional HVAC technician so please check the basics and then leave it up to the professional HVAC Technician to troubleshoot the heat pump.