[Skip to content]

FM World logo
Text Size: A A A


Temporary HVAC equipment and service provision can help organisations suffering from emergency HVAC breakdowns, says Carl Webb.

HVAC © iStock
HVAC © iStock

07 May 2019 | Carl Webb


An HVAC system is a critical yet frequently overlooked asset; most people only 

notice it when the

 air conditioning or 

heating isn’t working. 

We’ve seen that even those responsible for a commercial HVAC system’s upkeep often neglect maintenance and the budget required for repairs and upgrades. Add to this wear and tear on equipment and the result is, eventually, total breakdown.

Even with planned and regular maintenance, it is generally accepted that the average air conditioning system will last 10 to 15 years before a replacement is required. This is the same for most components of a building’s heating system.

The inconvenience of HVAC failure can be far-reaching – particularly when it is the responsibility of an FM company to resolve. A broken heating system, for example, can affect staff morale, reduce productivity and damage your business’s reputation, in addition to costing you money. It therefore warrants immediate attention.

When breakdowns strike it is rarely feasible to immediately replace faulty equipment – so a temporary hire is the best course of action.

Time spent diagnosing an issue, the decommissioning of defective units and a potential for conducting repairs all render sourcing a like-for-like stand-in problematical at best. Instead, the FM responsible should be in contact with a trusted supplier of short-term HVAC configurations in the event that things go wrong.

Key contract criteria

Any contract with a third-party provider ought to: 

  • Include a free site survey so the technician can recommend the best HVAC hire package.
  • Run for a set period of time or indefinitely, depending on your preference.
  • Guarantee cover until your requirement for temporary equipment subsides.


The implementation of transitory HVAC system is straightforward but consider these key points to guarantee site-appropriate solutions.

Efficiency should also be a primary influence in any HVAC setup, which means accurately calculating required heating or cooling capacities. This is something that should be overseen by your supplier, who will assess previous and existing conditions before advocating a solution.

As an example, installing a larger portable air conditioner than is necessary may seem a safe bet, but in fact will lead to greater power consumption and higher operating costs.

Availability of power is also essential before entering into an agreement. High-capacity boilers, heaters and air conditioning units generally requiring a 415V power supply to function.  

Smaller HVAC products will be compatible with a single-phase domestic power supply. 

Spatial restrictions should be acknowledged to make sure that only suitably sized units are delivered for installation. Many high-capacity units have a large footprint in dimension terms, so the last thing an FM needs is to choose one that doesn’t fit the area. 

Consider that a small portable air conditioner could be less than a cubic metre in volume while units at the other end of the spectrum exceed 12m³. The unit’s dimensions will generally be commensurate with its nominal heating or cooling capacity, so if you’re looking to control the temperature of a wide-open space, it will be reflected by the size of the product deemed most suitable.

Unique requirements of your building are important factors when deciding on a temporary HVAC provision.

Publicly accessible areas, for example, are not suitable for passing ductwork or air conditioning lines. By the same token, if your supplier is aware that you wish to source a heating system for a large office area, they will take steps to make sure that their solution is inconspicuous and quiet in use.  

Carl Webb is HVAC and specialist hire sales director at Andrews Sykes