Why Perform Testing and Balancing?


Modern HVAC systems typically use sophisticated, automatic controls to supply the proper amounts of air for heating, cooling, and ventilation in commercial buildings. Problems during installation, operation, maintenance, and servicing the HVAC system could prevent it from operating as designed. Each system should be tested to ensure its initial and continued performance. In addition to providing acceptable thermal conditions and ventilation air, a properly adjusted and balanced system can also reduce operating costs and increase equipment life.


Testing and balancing involves the testing, adjusting, and balancing of HVAC system components so that the entire system provides airflows that are in accordance with the design specifications. Typical components and system parameters tested include:


  • all supply, return, exhaust, and outdoor airflow rates

  • air temperatures

  • control settings and operation

  • filter or collector resistance

  • fan speeds and power consumption


The typical test and balance agency or contractor coordinates with the control contractor to accomplish three goals: verify and ensure the most effective system operation within the design specifications, identify and correct any problems, and ensure the safety of the system.  A test and balance report should provide a complete record of the design, preliminary measurements, and final test data. The report should include any discrepancies between the test data and the design specifications, along with reasons for those discrepancies. To facilitate future performance checks and adjustments, appropriate records should be kept on all damper positions, equipment capacities, control types and locations, control settings and operating logic, airflow rates, static pressures, fan speeds, and horsepowers.


Testing and balancing of existing building systems should be performed whenever there is reason to believe the system is not functioning as designed or when current records do not accurately reflect the actual operation of the system. The Associated Air Balance Council recommends the following guidelines in determining whether testing and balancing is required:


  • When HVAC equipment has been replaced or modified.
  • When space has been renovated or changed to provide for new occupancy.
  • After the air conveyance system has been cleaned.
  • When control settings have been readjusted by maintenance or other personnel.
  • When accurate records are required to conduct an IAQ investigation.
  • When the building owner is unable to obtain design documents or appropriate air exchange rates for compliance with IAQ standards or guidelines.


Because of the diversity of system types and the interrelationship of system components, effective balancing requires a skilled technician with the proper experience and instruments. Due to the nature of the work, which involves the detection and remediation of problems, it is recommended that an independent test and balance contractor be used and that this contractor report directly to the building owner, facility manager, or IAQ manager.



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