HVAC Solutions

A visual look at a quick response on a freezing day

Recently we helped Spencerville Local Schools following a major power outage on a freezing day. Take a look at a visual breakdown of the problems they faced and how we fixed each one.

VFDs Damaged Due To High Winds

Two 75 horsepower Yaskawa Variable Frequency Drives were shorted when the incoming power lines crossed on the pole and short out because high winds recently on a cold Saturday afternoon at Spencerville Local Schools. Fast response was critical with sub-zero outside temperatures causing a potential risk of the building freezing up and potentially high property losses.



The (2) VFD’s that were operating exploded internally, causing irreversible damage. The stand-by VFD was not damaged and was brought on-line to provide flow from the geothermal wells for the building heating equipment.


Temporary Operation

After testing the pump motor, Smith-Boughan bypassed one VFD and wired it “direct.” With sub-zero temperatures outside, one motor was able to operate at 100 percent output with no ill side effects to the system.


Honeywell Smart HVAC VFD

Two replacement VFDs were quickly ordered and Smith-Boughan installed them the following Saturday to limit disruption to the school. The Smart VFD provides exceptional reliability and durability along with advanced software to integrate into existing BAS systems.


Providing Solutions

Smith-Boughan has the knowledge and experience within our service department that’s key to offering the best solution to your HVAC system needs.

Energy efficiency

Chillin’ with Chilled Beam Systems


What is a chilled beam?

Chilled beam just sounds interesting, rolls off the tongue with much more panache than VAV system. VAV or “Variable Air Volume” just sounds confusing. But chilled beam, that is fun to say, kind of reminds you of a Coke commercial with the polar bear or a good Dairy Queen ad: Chilled beam, ahh, it must be a system that can really make you chill.

Or will it?When working properly it will. But, if the system isn’t controlled correctly, sensors

aren’t calibrated accurately or, worse yet, a proper sequence of operation isn’t programmed; then the glamorous sounding chilled beam system becomes a building owner or building engineers’ worst nightmare.

Recently designers have shifted away from VAV, with some calling them antiquated and inefficient. Chilled Beam, VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow – Think Mitsubishi), or Geothermal have received the attention of most building designers.

Think of a VAV system as a Chevrolet, think of a chilled beam system as a European sports car. Most HVAC service providers handle VAV well. If a problem develops it’s investigated, the problem

Chilled1 is identified, parts are ordered, and the problem is resolved.

The scenario plays out much like taking your Chevy to a local auto mechanic when it needs serviced. Chilled beam systems are more sophisticated like the European sports car, each requiring specialized qualifications and skills to properly troubleshoot and diagnose. Chilled beam systems must operate within razor thin parameters to achieve both comfort and efficiency.

Is your chilled beam system chillin’? Or do you find it constantly operating with condensation alarms? Or worse yet — is it raining inside the space? Is the system sending DRY cool air to the conditioned zones or is your contractor just lowering the discharge temp in the hopes the problem will magically go away?

The service department at Smith-Boughan has spent the past several years working with “troubled” chilled beam systems.

We have field technicians who understand the complexity of how a chilled beam system is supposed to operate along with engineers who are experienced in the actual design.

If your chilled beam system isn’t “chillin” we can help. Contact us today at 419-991-8040 or email to



Energy efficiency

Is your heating system ready for another polar vortex?


Is your heating system ready for another polar vortex? Before winter begins blasting us with cold nights and deep breezes, make sure your heating system is ready for the long days ahead. Take a look at our five maintenance tips to help you get your system running smoothly today.

1. Stick to Preventive Maintenance Schedules

Routine cleaning, a frequently deferred maintenance task, can have a significant impact on energy efficiency, according to the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP)’s O&M Center of Excellence. Dirty coils can reduce efficiency by as much as 30%.  Specialized skills and equipment are often required to properly clean most HVAC systems.

2. Air filters

Dirty air filters reduce system efficiencies by restricting air flow and causing fan motors to work harder than necessary.  This increases energy costs and negatively impacts equipment lifespan.  Utilizing the correct filter is also important and can save money in the long run as well.

3. Temperature setpoints and Setback Scheduling

Ensuring your facilities temperature setpoints are within acceptable range will result in energy savings and better occupant comfort.  Optimizing setback schedules ensures maximum savings are realized without negatively impacting occupant comfort.  It is recommended to have your facilities HVAC operating schedule checked by a skilled BAS technician on an annual basis.

4. Boiler Systems

Testing for proper combustion is a critical step in achieving both maximum efficiency and safe burner operation. A combustion analysis, performed by a trained technician, will ensure your boiler is operating within safe and efficient parameters.  Improper combustion can result in high levels of carbon monoxide, a risk for any facility, and can soot the inside of the unit, causing reduced efficiency by as much as 50%.

Water treatment needs to be tested annually to ensure proper levels of inhibitors are present to prevent corrosion within the heating system.  Inhibitors that protect against corrosion don’t last forever and need to be boosted to maintain protection. Testing should be performed prior to each heating season to ensure the system is protected from both corrosion and potential freezing, depending on the equipment design.

5. Safety Relief Valve

It can be argued that the relief valve, or safety relief valve, is one of the most important safety devices on the boiler, or perhaps even the most important safety device. It is intended to prevent catastrophic failure if there is a failure of any component in the control circuitry that regulates the firing of the boiler.

Each safety relief valve should be inspected and tested annually by a competent person.

(Bob__Lima_City_Schools)_017The last thing you want is your heating system breaking down in the middle of January. Follow these five HVAC Maintenance tips now to ensure your system is ready to hum along smoothly for the winter blast ahead.

View Project Summaries

Energy efficiency

Why hire UA STAR certified technicians? Assurance you have the best


Say you’re a facilities manager or the owner of a commercial building and you’re trying to find the top technicians or piping professionals for quality work, do you know what to look for? One thing you should absolutely seek are professionals who are UA STAR Certified.

DEFINITION: “The UA STAR program is a HVACR service technician certification program backed by the United Association of the Plumbing, Pipefitting and Sprinklerfitting Industry of the United States and Canada.” –

The UA STAR Certification is about assurance. Working with UA STAR Certified HVACR Service Techs, plumbers, pipe fitters and sprinkler fitters means you have hired a technician with extensive training and experience to excel in these mechanical services.

Following a five-year training program, these technicians must pass a comprehensive exam. Once they have completed both, their certification is proof they are the best trained professionals in:

—    Mechanical Systems

—    Electrical Systems

—    Controls

—   AC & Refrigeration

—   Heating

—   Steam Systems

—   Plumbing

—   Ventilation

—   Piping

—   Lifting Equipment

—   Safety

—   Mathematics

—   Customer Service

UA STAR training includes a five-star program in which technicians meet and surpass many high standards:

— Technicians participate in an extensive and thorough five-year education program that includes 1,200 hours of both classroom education and hands-on training.

— The extensive training program allows technicians to gain understanding of “every aspect of commercial, industrial and institutional building mechanical systems’ operation,” along with important skills such as customer service and safety, according to the Mechanical Service Contractors of America United Assocation.

— Participation in the only HVACR training and exam program that is accredited by the American National Standards Institute and is certified by the ISO 9000. What does that mean? These technicians have literally met and passed the toughest standards in the industry.

It’s a program that is taken very seriously, in fact the UA spends $110 million on training to make absolutely sure their critical skills and not only developed but maintained, according to the MSCA.

Also, the UA STAR exam is independently reviewed by the National ITC Corporation, which is internationally recognized, ISO certified and ANSI-accredited for the HVACR industry. That independent, third-party certification means you can be sure technicans have earned their certification.

service-vans-2Did you know Smith-Boughan Mechanical Services currently has seven UA STAR certified technicians who have successfully completed these highly stringent testing and certification standards. Also, we are the only UA STAR Qualified Contractors in West Central Ohio and that less than one percent of HVAC service contractors in the United States meet these high requirements? Call us today at 419-991-8040 or get a free custom quote (LINK).


View Energy Assessment Report Sample

Energy efficiency

4 Places to Look For Energy Losses In Commercial Buildings

Quick question, what do you think your buildings’ biggest operating expense is? Did you say “Energy?” The truth is, monitoring and reducing excess energy throughout your facility can lead to substantial savings.

A significant amount of energy loss is temperature related. For example, hot and cold air leaks. It takes energy to condition that air, and when it dissipates from a leak, you have wasted that energy!  Many other systems and pieces of equipment within the building will also reveal their energy waste in terms of heat.  Motors, pumps, and electrical panels will also generate heat and lose energy efficiency as they begin to fail.

Thermal imaging is a great tool to help you identify wasted energy. It creates pictures by measuring infrared energy or heat and then assigns a color spectrum based on the temperature differences that it measures.  Thermal imaging experts suggest that inspection of the following systems is a practical way to identify energy losses.

The following outline is a great starting point to identify these potential losses:

  1.      HVAC Systems: The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are typically the largest energy user in commercial buildings and offer the best opportunity to reduce energy consumption.

What to Scan

  •   Ductwork – Even the highest efficiency rated HVAC systems waste energy without a well-sealed ductwork system.  With infrared technology, you can see the thermal pattern of air losses and leaks.  This also will identify deteriorated or damaged ductwork insulation.
  •   Piping – Thermal imaging of piping systems, much like ductwork systems, can identify deteriorated or damaged piping insulation and leaks.
  •   Fans – With fans, mechanical imbalance will reveal itself in overheated bearings and other components. Thermal imaging can also identify shaft misalignments in couplings between motor and fan.
  •   Electrical Connections – Loose or corroded electrical connections increase resistance at the connection, resulting in overheating, energy loss and potential failure.
  1.      Motors: Electrical motors also use a significant amount of energy within a facility.  Overheating and malfunctioning motors tend to indicate mechanical or electrical inefficiencies that can lead to more energy use and ultimate failure if not corrected.

What to Scan

  •   Airflow – In fan cooled motors, a restriction in airflow will cause general overheating of the entire fan housing; this is an indication of potential failure and will increase energy consumption.
  •   Motor Winding Insulation – Areas of the housing with a higher heat signature indicate a breakdown of the motor winding insulation; this indicates a potential motor failure, as well as higher energy consumption.
  •   Electrical Connections – Loose or corroded electrical connections increase resistance at the connection, resulting in overheating, energy loss and potential failure.
  1.      Boiler Systems: Boilers are the heart of steam and hot water heating systems.

What to Scan

  •   Boiler Jacket Insulation – Thermal imaging can identify damaged or deteriorated insulation around the water jacket.  Radiant insulation loss of boiler system can be significant, not only in energy loss but also causes mechanical rooms to overheat potentially damaging other equipment.
  •   Fan Motors – As with any other motor, check for impeded airflow, electrical unbalance, overheating bearings and failing winding insulation.
  •   Pumps – Look for hot bearings, leaking and as with fans, motor faults.
  •   Valves – Thermal imaging can identify failing valves or valves that leaking through when they are to be in the closed position.
  1.      Electrical Systems:  Many people are not aware that electrical systems can actually waste energy.  As components degrade and resistance increases, incremental waste occurs.

What to Scan

  •   Distribution Panels – Thermal imaging of distribution panel can identify unbalanced circuits and loose or corroded connections at breakers, fuses and busses within the panel.
  •   Transformers – Monitor the high and low voltage connections, cooling tubes, cooling fans and pumps.  Look for overheated connections and variances in the cooling system.  Be aware that if the temperature of one electrical leg on a transformer is significantly hotter than the others, that leg may be failing.

While Thermal Imaging is a very good tool in identifying wasted energy, it is also a very good predictive and preventative maintenance tool.  By establishing base line measurements on various components of your systems and then performing annual imaging you can use the recorded information to determine faulty or failing components before they fail. This will afford you the opportunity to correct the issue before it becomes an expensive repair or replacement, and you may also avoid significant down time of your systems.