The Anatomy of a Commercial Air Conditioning System 

As the temperatures begin to rise in the spring and peak over the summer months, so do the number of news stories regarding heat stroke (AKA sunstroke and heatstroke), where an individual’s internal temperature can reach 104°F or higher within 15 minutes of exposure or excessive exertion. 

 As a result, a working air conditioner quickly becomes a necessity for most of the country and a legitimate life saver for residents of the ten hottest states. 

Rank  State  Average Temp.  Average Summer Temp 
1  Florida  73.4°  82.6° 
2  Louisiana  68.5°  82.9° 
3  Texas  68.0°  84.8° 
4  Georgia  66.2°  80.2° 
5  Mississippi  66.1°  81.5° 
6  Alabama  65.4°  80.4° 
7  South Carolina  65.4  79.7° 
8  Arizona  62.9°  79.9° 
9  Arkansas  62.8°  80.5° 
10  Oklahoma  62.8°  82.8° 

 While humans have used various crude air conditioning techniques (creating shade, changing location, and manual and mechanical fans) for centuries, you can trace today’s modern air conditioning systems back to 1902. 

Who Invented Air Conditioning? 

Air conditioning has changed people’s work environments and lives over the last 120 years. In fact, without air conditioning, our world would look much different. 

  • The modern high-rise building would not be possible.
  • Today’s supermarkets would look and function much differently.
  • Many of today’s common vaccines and medicines would not exist.
  • Computer servers, laptops, and the internet would still belong in a sci-fi program.
  • Medical treatment, surgery, and recovery would have higher mortality rates.

If the automobile was the most significant technological advance of the 20th century, then air conditioning must be number two on that list. 

Willis Carrier invented the first functioning AC system in 1902 to answer the original question. As the story goes, while waiting on a train platform in Pittsburgh, Willis realized that drying air was possible by moving an air stream through the water to create a fog. From there, he could control the air’s moisture, humidity, and temperature.  

The term “air conditioner” is credited to a mill engineer named Stuart Cramer. Shortly after Carrier introduced his new air-cooling system, Cramer invented a similar cooling device. Still, his machine added moisture to make hot mill work environments more comfortable while increasing productivity. Since Cramer’s version did more than merely cool the air, he settled on the name air conditioner.  

Then, in 1940, Frederick Jones received the first patent for a portable AC unit and launched Thermo King shortly after. Next, Jones installed mobile systems on his delivery trucks to deliver food, blood, and crucial medications to the front lines during WWII. After the war, numerous car, train, and airplane manufacturers discovered and incorporated his portable system. 

Commercial Air Conditioning System Components 

Central air conditioning systems use two primary components: the exterior unit (compressor) and the indoor unit (your furnace). While the furnace keeps you warm all winter, it also plays a crucial role in the cooling process. 

Since the indoor unit does most of the work, let’s look at its components first. 


The thermostat works much like the ignition key for your car. Whether you want to heat or cool, the first step is to select from heat/cool/fan options and set the desired temperature. 

Evaporator Coil 

Here is where your furnace becomes part of the air conditioning system since the evaporator coil resides inside the furnace unit.  

 When you turn on the AC, the system draws interior air into the system and across the evaporator coil, where the refrigerant gets cooled by removing heat and humidity from the flowing air. Then with the help of the blower, the cooled air is sent back into the building. 

Expansion Valve 

This valve controls the amount of refrigerant sent to the evaporator coil. Too much and the refrigerant can settle at the bottom of the refrigerant lines. Too little forces the system to work harder to produce the same amount of cooled air. 

 Blower and Blower Motor 

Designed to create air movement, the blower uses a rotating motor to distribute the cooled air throughout the unit or building. 


No matter the size or composition, air filters perform two distinct functions. 

  1. Filters prevent dirt, dust, and debris from entering the system. Excessive dust accumulations can result in overheating, excessive wear, and a shortened life cycle.
  2.   Filters protect tenants and occupants by blocking allergens, dander, and dust from entering your lungs, which can cause inflammation and discomfort.
  3.  Regular cleaning or replacement can maximize AC performance while lowering energy usage and unexpected system and component repairs. 


The ducting used to move the air can be rigid or flexible in its construction. And you will find the ductwork above the suspended ceiling, in the attic, and even in the basement areas of a suite or building. Supply ducts carry the treated air back into the building or suite, while return ducts bring used air back to the unit to begin the process again. 

Now let’s look at the outdoor air conditioning unit, typically called the condenser. Like the interior unit, the condenser also houses the remaining four commercial air conditioning system components.  

Condenser Coil 

Essentially, the condenser coil works like the evaporative coil, except in reverse. As the refrigerant passes through the condenser coil, it’s heated instead of cooled. Contrary to popular thinking, air conditioning doesn’t cool the air; it removes heat from the airflow via the condenser, where the heat can quickly dissipate into the outside air. 


Fans help keep the condenser from overheating by moving the heated air up, out, and away from the condenser unit. 


The compressor provides three critical functions of the air conditioning process. 

  1. When the hot refrigerant reaches the compressor, it’s heated again to become warmer than the outside air. This higher temperature ensures that the heat will transfer from the refrigerant to the cooler outside air more quickly.
  2.  The refrigerant must have a way to convert from gas to liquid before being pumped back into the evaporative coil.
  3.  And the refrigerant requires a pump for traveling through the lines between the condenser and evaporative coils where the refrigerant becomes so cold it removes the heat from the air moving across the evaporative coil.

 Refrigerant lines 

These lines utilize copper tubing and provide the following functions. 

  •  The suction line carries refrigerant between the evaporator and the compressor.
  • The discharge line connects the compressor to the condenser.
  • The liquid line connects the condenser to the expansion valve or device.

Always use Type L air conditioning and refrigeration (ACR) tubing when replacing refrigerant lines, as it’s manufactured to be cleaned, dehydrated, and capped to avoid contamination during transport, storage, and installation. 

As you can see, the anatomy of any commercial air conditioning system requires many moving parts working in unison to keep your office or building cool and comfortable during the spring and summer seasons. 

 MaintenX can service and install all makes and models of air-conditioning systems, including:

  •  Carrier 
  • Trane 
  • Lennox 
  • York 
  • Daikin 
  • McQuay 

 Should you have any questions regarding your current air conditioning system, the MaintenX HVAC/R Team can provide the answers, installations, equipment maintenance, and emergency repairs for all commercial AC systems. 

Low Flow Plumbing Fixtures

Being a business owner or manager, chances are you’re always on the lookout for ways to reduce operating costs. As a result, many companies focus on reducing their electric bills through upgrades such as zoned HVAC systems, LED lighting, and energy-efficient windows.

But did you know that you can cut another major utility bill with minimal effort and expense?

The savings, ranging from 30% – 50%, are immediate; and your business won’t require another upgrade for several decades. Yes, today we’ll discuss the benefits of low-flow plumbing fixtures, and their impact on your operating costs.

What Are Low-Flow Plumbing Fixtures?

As the name implies, low-flow plumbing fixtures use substantially less water than their traditional counterparts: faucets, toilets, shower heads, and even dishwashers, too.

Many business owners assume that their existing plumbing fixtures are low flow since the Energy Policy Act took effect (1994 for residential buildings, 1997 for commercial buildings) nearly three decades ago. Unfortunately, the average age of a US commercial building is 53 years, meaning that low-flow plumbing fixtures were not an option during the original construction.

This Energy Policy Act includes the federal requirement that all new toilets must use no more than 1.6 GPF (Gallons Per Flush). Some drought-stricken states, like California and Texas, require that new toilets meet high-efficiency standards of 1.28 GPF, to conserve even more water. Since you’re already wondering, most older toilets use between 3.5 to 7 GPF. Here in the US, the average faucet and showerhead have a flow rate of 2.2 GPM (Gallons Per Minute), compared to 1.5 GPM for the low-flow options. Depending on the manufacturer, most low-flow faucets and showerheads use either a restrictor or aerator to reduce the water flow during usage.

Low-flow dishwashers are yet another option to reduce water usage. These units typically use no more than 4 gallons for a wash cycle, compared to 15 gallons for older models, and 27 gallons for washing dishes by hand.

US Commercial Water Usage

Below we’ve assembled the estimated daily water usage rates for several different industries and services for comparison purposes.

Service/Industry Daily water usage
Motels 100 gallons per unit/suite
Barber shops 55 gallons per chair
Beauty salons 270 gallons per chair
Resorts 35 gallons per person
Factories (without a shower) 25 gallons per employee each shift
Factories (with a shower) 35 gallons per employee each shift
Average restaurant 70 gallons per seat
24-hour restaurant 100 gallons per seat
Hospitals 250 gallons per bed
Retirement homes 100 gallons per bed
Office buildings 20 gallons per employee
Stores 400 gallons per bathroom
Movie theatres 2 gallons per seat
Service stations 10 gallons per vehicle

If you own an office building with 100 employees, that gives you an estimated usage of 2,000 gallons per day, or 60,000 gallons per month. Upgrading to low-flow faucets, toilets, and showerheads could cut your daily usage from 30-50%.

At 30%, that reduces your water usage by 18,000 gallons each month.

And at 50%, that works out to a 30,000-gallon reduction each month.

Commercial Water Rates

Water costs vary dramatically across the United States, as shown in the following chart. In Phoenix, the average cost for a cubic meter of water is $0.96, while San Francisco checks in at $6.07 per cubic meter.1

City Average cost (per cubic meter)
San Francisco $6.07
Indianapolis $5.17
Seattle $4.60
Los Angeles $3.79
Tucson $3.31
Boston $3.10
New York $2.00
Dallas $1.25
Phoenix $0.96

For comparison purposes, one cubic meter of water converts to 264 gallons.

Going back to our office building example from above, let’s plug in the 60K gallon  (227 cubic meters) estimate and see what happens.

City Average cost (monthly)
San Francisco $1,377.89
Indianapolis $1,173.59
Seattle $1,044.20
Los Angeles $   860.33
Tucson $   751.37
Boston $   703.70
New York $   454.00
Dallas $   283.75
Phoenix $   217.92

Your zip code has a lot to do with your water rates. As you can see, Tucson and Phoenix are only separated by just over 100 miles, but Tucson businesses pay 300% more for the same tap water.

Learn More About Low Flow Plumbing Fixtures

If your commercial building was built after 1997, you most likely already have low-flow toilets in place. Most low-flow toilets can be identified by a 1.6 GPF or 1.28 GPF stamp inside the toilet tank, or on the toilet bowl.

To check your faucets and showerhead typically involves removing the fixture and looking for the flow rate stamp on the underside of the device.

As you can see, reducing your water usage can lead to immediate and long-term savings no matter what type of business you own.

Of course, we’re ready to answer any other questions you might have regarding:

  • Low flow toilets
  • Low flow faucets
  • Low flow showerheads
  • Low flow dishwashers
  • Remodeling
  • New Construction

Simply contact the MaintenX Plumbing Division, and ask the low-flow plumbing fixture experts.

Environmental Sustainability Risks and Opportunities for Florida’s Commercial Buildings

Environmental sustainability is one of the hottest topics in today’s political and economic climate. For many of us, there seems to be a zero-sum game between economic and environmental health, with many Americans fearful of the future. However, it is important for businesses to look at the opportunities that this worldwide problem brings us, as well as the changes we need to make in order to lead sustainable businesses in an ever-changing world.

Nowhere is this more true than in Florida. Our state is home to one of the most unique landscapes in the United States, and one of the most unique in the world. We are home to the one-of-a-kind Everglades National Park, hundreds of miles of beautiful beaches, incredible seafood provided from our oceans and Gulf, and a unique sub-tropical climate that brings in millions of tourists every year. Most Floridians value what our natural landscape has to offer, and have a vested interest in protecting it for both humans and wildlife to thrive.

Florida businesses are posed with unique risks and opportunities relating to environmental sustainability, which we will explore briefly and offer guidance for businesses looking to make a positive impact on their communities and greater environment:

Greatest Risks: Sea Level Rise and Pollution

The saltwater is one of Florida’s greatest assets, but also one of our greatest environmental threats to date. Because of intense ocean pollution and increased carbon capture, sea levels are expected to rise at an alarming rate over the next few decades. This puts waterfront businesses at risk of losing property value and threatens future generations of losing valuable real estate altogether. This coupled with ocean pollution can put seafood industries and the waterfront restaurants they serve at incredible risk if nothing is done to clean up our oceans.

While this risk is great to Florida property owners and the fishing industry as a whole, there is plenty that the FWC and other organizations are doing to protect the ocean and Gulf of Mexico from further overfishing and pollution. Businesses also have options to mitigate sea level rise in their communities to protect their property values as sea levels creep up on waterfront property.

Greatest Opportunities: Solar Power and Natural Resource Conservation

Florida is known as the “sunshine state” and is, therefore, one of the best places for businesses to invest in solar energy. Though solar power isn’t as popular in Florida as it has been in California, more and more businesses are investing in this alternative energy for the economic value alone. Solar energy puts the control in property owners’ hands, allowing them to generate their own energy and reduce costs dramatically over time.

However, solar energy isn’t Florida’s only valuable natural resource. Conservation efforts statewide are helping to protect our wetlands and foster safer fishing practices for local bays to ensure our seafood is a protected commodity that can support local communities for decades to come.

Florida businesses have so many opportunities to grow despite a changing environment, and at MaintenX we want to support them in doing so. Talk to your local MaintenX team about ways you can invest in energy-efficient and solar technology today.




How Sustainability Standards Are Changing Commercial Facilities

“Sustainability” is a buzzword we hear a lot in the world of commercial maintenance. How to reduce energy consumption, create cleaner products, and reduce waste are all hot topics at conferences and in industry news, but very few of these big ideas trickle down into everyday small business practice. However, the ideas that do stick are slowly changing the way commercial facilities are designed and operated at the ground level.

Approximately 50% of executives in the U.S. consider sustainability an important measure for their business. Incorporating environmental and social sustainability practices not only makes for a better business but can boost a company’s reputation and even save money in some circumstances. One of the most common ways in which a company can invest in sustainability is through commercial building renovations.

Commercial real estate can be designed to meet any of these sustainability goals:

  • To lower greenhouse gas emissions
  • To improve energy efficiency and waste management
  • To improve water conservation
  • To create a healthier environment for employees
  • To facilitate the production of green products and services

Through better technology development and implementation of energy efficiency measures, commercial facilities can become a part of the change toward a more sustainable future. But, how does that look for a small business in their everyday operations?

  • A building that upgrades to an energy-efficient HVAC system reduces its carbon footprint immediately
  • A small business that adds solar panels to its roofing can reduce its energy bill and its carbon-based energy consumption
  • A multi-tenant building that invests in efficient plumbing can reduce water waste and save on monthly water costs
  • A building that invests in reflective or energy-efficient roofing and windows can lower its cooling bills in the summer, thus reducing its energy use
  • A small business that switches to recycled napkins, straws, and cutlery can reduce its waste for a comparable price

These small actions are what make the sustainability movement possible at every level. From the Fortune 500 to mom and pop shops down the street, by investing in clean buildings we can invest in a cleaner future.

To learn more about sustainable options for your facility, contact your local MaintenX team today.

What is a Cool Roof System?

As businesses become more and more environmentally conscious, energy efficiency has become one of the biggest selling points in commercial real estate. Sustainability tech is the hottest trend for property owners and managers and can make a bigger difference to your clients than aesthetic choices or rent prices. If you’re interested in creating a more eco-friendly commercial building, a cool roofing system can help your facility stand apart from the rest. 

Most property owners don’t think about their roof as an opportunity to reduce energy costs, other than solar paneling. However, solar panels are still out of the price range for many and have a slow payback as opposed to other energy-efficient upgrades. A cool roofing system, however, can reduce your interior energy costs which makes a bigger impact on your tenants.

What is a Cool Roofing System?

Cool roofing systems are coated with a light-colored acrylic coating that helps reflect light away from the building. Like wearing a white shirt on a hot day, this helps your building to stay cool on hot days as opposed to black or dark-colored shingles which absorb the heat. Cool roofing systems are typically applied with a spray-on coating and can be easily added to your existing roof. 

Cool roofing systems offer a variety of benefits other than energy efficiency for your building, including: 

  • Cost-effective coating: A cool roof coating can lower energy costs, extend the service life of your roof, and is highly cost-effective to install. 
  • Durability: Cool roof coatings will often last several years or even decades if properly cared for and retouched. 
  • Compatibility: Most roofing systems can be renovated with an acrylic coating to become cool roofing systems, making them one of the easiest energy-efficient upgrades you can make to your facility. 

If you want your building to stand out as an energy-efficient and sustainable facility, ask your MaintenX team about cool roofing system upgrades. We can help you make your building a forward-thinking facility that is lower cost and easier to maintain than other buildings in your area. 

To learn more, contact your local MaintenX contractor today!