Whitepaper: Combustion Analyzers Benefit Fleet Owners in Residential and Industrial Markets: Improving Safety, Efficiency and Customer Service

| October 9, 2018

Authored By Robert Hester, Production Manager, Bacharach

For new installations and for annual maintenance, the combustion analyzer has become one of the most critical tools of the trade for HVAC professionals. Used for both furnaces and boilers, the basic hand-held device measures and calculates carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, oxygen and stack temperature. Advanced models may have added features that provide gas and draft pressures, two temperatures instead of one and the ability to conduct a heat exchanger test. Some even provide Delta-T configurations to measure the temperature differential.

The analyzer provides significant benefits for contractors and for their customers in both the residential and industrial/commercial markets. For fleet owners, working with standardized equipment on a common platform provides operational efficiencies and improved performance that can increase overall profitability in a highly competitive HVAC environment.

Safety is no doubt the primary reason for using a combustion analyzer. Some problems cannot be detected without the aid of this device. For example, hairline cracks can cause carbon monoxide to leak from furnaces into occupied spaces.  The analyzer can detect these leaks and monitor them for danger. This sensitive instrument can pick up the slightest trace of harmful gases that might indicate potential problems down the road. By measuring oxygen levels for installations and through routine maintenance, the technician can produce a proper flame and maintain the right level of carbon monoxide in the stack.

Efficiency is another key reason for using a combustion analyzer. Routine maintenance ensures that boilers and furnaces are operating at optimal efficiency and not allowing heat to escape through the stack.  These accurate measurements can help provide significant fuel cost savings for HVAC customers.

The analyzer also helps technicians work more efficiently. They can quickly diagnose problems and make necessary repairs or adjustments without wasting valuable time.

Product standardization benefits fleet owners

Successful HVAC fleet owners know that product standardization can provide significant operating benefits and cost savings in capital investments. In the case of combustion analyzers, manufacturers may offer bulk discounts and special offers to buyers. But the benefits go beyond the initial investment.

First and foremost, all the technicians in the fleet are trained on a common platform.  Depending on the size of the fleet, the manufacturer may conduct on-site and hands-on group training on the use, care, calibration and maintenance of the combustion analyzer. Regulatory training may also be provided for fleet owners in the commercial/industrial segments.

Working with one family of instruments, technicians can often support each other while in the field—answering questions, solving problems and providing assistance. Working on a common platform, they can also borrow instruments from each other if one is not directly available to them.  If the fleet owner needs units with expanded capabilities for specific applications, they can purchase a limited number of more advanced combustion analyzers that can be shared across the fleet.

Standardization is also an added benefit and a selling point for customers. No matter which technician performs the annual service, the customer always receives the same information and data in the same format.  Customers are better able to understand and rely on the printed reports they receive every time service is performed. This reliability and consistency provides confidence in the work and professionalism of the entire HVAC fleet.

For fleet owners in the commercial and industrial market, software options can be customized for regulatory and company-specific requirements.

Service and Maintenance Benefits Provided with Common Platform

HVAC contractors can also save time and money on annual maintenance of their combustion analyzers. In the traditional service path, the entire unit can be sent in for annual maintenance.

Some manufacturers offer a sensor replacement program, whereby the owner receives a new pre-calibrated sensor that can be plugged into the unit, keeping it in the field, while simply sending back the old sensor to the manufacturer. Sensor exchange programs keep units operating without costly delays for service and repair.

Annual calibrations should be scheduled at the start of, or just prior to the heating season. To keep the fleet active, common spare parts including probes, printers, paper, water traps and filters should be kept on hand.  Owners are advised to be cautious about who performs repairs and maintenance. Direct factory, or factory-authorized service, is the best guarantee that all maintenance and repairs are performed to the highest quality standards.

Fleet owners report that they have seen their business grow with the use of combustion analyzers. Training on a common platform and repetitive experience in the field improves efficiency during calls as work can be done faster and more cost effectively. Analyzers provide immediate combustion performance information to the technician that initiates efficient repairs. The data obtained from the analyzer can help to explain the cost of ownership and energy savings should the furnace or boiler need replacing. Their customers feel safer and more secure knowing that their boilers, furnaces are operating at peak performance.

Investment in Employee Education for an evolving industry.

As Henry Ford purportedly stated a long time ago, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay”. This is still true today. As more and more of the antiquated low-efficiency units finally get replaced in the field, a highly skilled technical force is needed for new installation, setup, and continued service.

The HVAC industry is evolving with technology. Furnace and boiler equipment for residential, commercial and industrial settings are progressing, and so are the tools used to monitor them. Control systems are getting more complex and therefore require specialized understanding of software, systems, and communications protocols. This is highly evident when it comes to integrated building management systems. Facility management is looking closely for real-time problems and regulatory compliance to prevent major repairs and downtime. Any fleet servicing these systems needs to have the best tools in the industry.

Smart Homes have integrated many controls that were simple electromechanical devices for the last 20-50 years. These new systems are modeled after smaller versions of building management systems in the commercial and industrial markets. Today’s HVAC technician needs to be up to date with the latest technology no matter what market they serve.

Homeowners have more access to real-time data from Smart Home devices and now have an active interest in combustion efficiency as it relates to their monthly fuel bill. These “Smart” devices use furnace efficiency data in combination with data from heating runtime allowing owners to optimize energy savings with the user control programs in the devices. Evidence of furnace efficiency during any service call, “As Found” and “As Left” is important to this customer. Technicians who are able to print these reports for the customer appear proficient and skilled. Using a variety of technology in tools and equipment can make it possible for contractors to download data and schedule repeat customer visits for servicing their appliances.

Properly outfitting a fleet, with high-performance combustion analyzers can provide a competitive advantage. Partnering with the right manufacturers and their extensive networks of training suppliers can make all the difference to your bottom line.

About Bacharach

Bacharach is a leading provider of gas and refrigerant leak detection, combustion and emissions analysis instrumentation, energy management, and data analytics solutions for commercial and industrial applications. Bacharach products make the heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC-R) industries safer, cleaner, and more energy efficient, enabling customers to increase productivity, reduce costs, and protect lives and the environment.

About the Author

Robert Hester is the Production Manager for the corporate headquarters, where he motivates his team to continually improve Safety, Quality, Products, Processes, and Service with the sites made in America union workforce.

Robert has 25+ years of professional operations experience supplying global markets with high technology products and services. From his early days servicing Mine Safety products, 18 years of high volume worldwide Consumer Electronics manufacturing and service, and high-quality stainless steel gas tube manufacturing, he has learned the value of customer satisfaction in a multitude of industries and cultures. He applies this experience by fostering a continuous improvement environment across the Bacharach organization.

Outside of his professional life, Rob and his wife Carol own and operate an independent ice cream stand/grill for the past 12 years. Buying an old roadside business and transforming it into a thriving community focused organization is a lot of fun, and work. He got his real introduction to commercial refrigeration the first month of ownership as one thing after another quit working at the most inopportune time. He quickly learned the value of a good HVAC technician partnership and sought out organizations that invest in education and technical expertise to support his business.

Please visit www.mybacharach.com for additional information.

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