Another good question. And the answer underscores quite a bit of the challenge we face this time of year. Our HVAC plant was not designed to run for cooling during this type of weather. The hallways are heavily influenced by the outside air because it is filtered fresh air coming in, and the outside temps are relatively cool right now.
It is not hot outside, rather the energy from the sun coming through the glass on the sunny side of the building which generates the unwanted heat. As our prior posts explain, we can’t cool the water in the lines at lower outdoor temps to counteract that heat. That would make the hallways even colder and the units in the shade, VERY COLD, when we are technically still obligated to provide heat.
Mechanically speaking, it would cause the “surging” we’ve explained in our posts which can damage the system and we have to prevent. You should have cooling today though (May 11th). Today the outside temperature allows us to run the cooling plant and our team reported the system did move to cooling at about 7am.
Good question. Unfortunately, it will go off when the water circulating in the line gets down to a certain temperature. The water can only get so cold, before the chiller will stop circulating to protect itself. There is a point where the chillers begin to “surge”. (Think of it like very aggressive gulping.) This can damage them, very seriously. And so they have to be taken off line to avoid that.
I sympathize with any discomfort you might experience. The building I live in refuses to switch back and forth so we get no AC until there is more certainty heat will not be needed any longer. My neighbors and I suffer until they make the switch. Nonetheless, the system is almost identical and the chillers there would have to go off as a similar safety feature.
The heating and cooling system WAS NOT DESIGNED to be switched back and forth as we do here in the Spring and Fall. So, everyone needs to be patient as our team navigates this challenge. We do the best we can to make the switch as the weather fluctuates, without damaging the pipes and mechanicals.
While we are required to continue to default to heat until June 1st, should outdoor temperatures reach around 60 or above, and particularly on sunny days, they expect to make the transition over to cooling. There are sensors our team monitors throughout the building and the goal is to keep hallway air around 70 to 72 degrees.
HOWEVER, keep in mind, changing between heating and cooling is not like flipping a switch. It takes 6 to 8 hours to reasonably make the transition – we can’t just start pouring cold water into the system when hot water is already present. That could damage the pipes and mechanicals. AND, we are obligated to keep heating available should it reach particular temperatures, up until June 1st. This is consistent with the City Of Chicago Heating Ordinance (Click Here For Details) So particularly when it is sunny, we know on the South and West facing sides of the building, some units will be hot at times.
Also, in the evenings when lows will be going back down to the 50s or 40s, we do need to aim to begin providing heating at a very specific point. This can be a challenge, and our team will do their best to balance it out. However, it will be tough going at times until June 1st. So we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding.
While it will not be 100% comfortable for 100% of our residents, 100% of the time, resident comments and observations can help us make adjustments and improve conditions as much as possible. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the office 773-769-3250.