Marc's Corner

Over the last 5 years, I’ve renovated and/or performed detailed Engineering Reviews at over 40 hotels. I hope these topics help my fellow hoteliers, management companies & owners as we move forward during this challenging time period.
If you have any questions about any topic, please message me or connect with me on Facebook or LinkedIN. Stay safe my friends.

Hotel asset value is determined using multiple calculations, math problems, and sometimes magic tricks, but there are three critically important aspects of the physical plant that can make or break a hotel investment.  As an owner or asset manager, keep these three areas on your property checklist, and follow up with a hotel engineering team regularly.  Ignore these at your peril!

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

One of the leading causes of guest dissatisfaction, bad reviews, and guest refunds is guest room HVAC issues, but the anatomy of a hotel’s ventilation system is far more complex than most hoteliers understand. Whether the asset utilizes a chiller system for public spaces and guest rooms, or split units and PTACs, there are multiple components involved in maintaining quality air throughout the hotel. Here’s what to look out for:

1. Look at the entire HVAC system

The public space, corridor, and guest room HVAC units all have to be operational, set to the proper temperature for the season, and properly maintained. A mechanical engineer calculates proper air flow using every HVAC component throughout the hotel, so if any part of that system is not operational, multiple issues can occur.

2. Ensure proper ventilation

In particular, pay attention to the guest room and public space bathroom exhaust vents and guest room entry door threshold space.  Make sure the exterior intake dampers are in the open position.

3. Verify the square footage being cooled

The square footage of the space being heated/cooled needs to be measured and confirmed whenever a unit is in need of repair or replacement. This is especially important in guest rooms because PTACs are typically replaced more often than public space HVAC units. A “standard” guest room of 300 square feet with an eight-foot ceiling will require an 8,000 BTU PTAC.

4. Conduct regular airflow quality inspections

This should be part of preventative maintenance.  Rather than cooling the air, HVAC systems are designed to remove heat and moisture, leaving behind cooler air in the space. If the guest room PTAC unit is too large, the thermostat will reach the desired temperature before the moisture is removed.  As a result, the unit will shut off without removing the moisture from the air. The moisture will stay in the room and penetrate the walls, carpet, and furniture.

Mold and water intrusion

There is a four-letter word that no hotel owner wants to hear at their hotel, and that word is MOLD. All hotels can have some sort of “environmental growth,” whether it’s in the corner of a bathroom, shower, pool, or kitchen, but the nasty stuff, “toxic black mold” or Stachybotrys Chartarum, can be hazardous to humans.

The most common health issues are respiratory and involve coughing, sneezing, eye irritation, and even lung problems including bleeding. The cost of remediation, depending on the area effected, can range between $500 to $10,000+, and that doesn’t include lost revenues from having a guest room or space out of order.  Musty hotel rooms with or without visible mold are another major area of guest dissatisfaction.

How does black mold appear and cause this much damage? It usually comes from water intrusion from outside or from leaking plumbing inside the walls. The other cause can be from poorly maintained or improperly sized HVAC equipment.

Water intrusion may start from a roof leak, commonly noticed by staining on the ceiling of the upper most floor. However, water will always find the path of least resistance and may find its way down a chase to lower floors or can pool and follow a path across a ceiling to the lowest point.  Other sources of water intrusion include windows (seals and caulking), the exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS), loose or broken brickwork, balconies and flashing.

How can you prevent mold and water intrusion in your hotel?


Read the full article at

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We have completed over 16,500 guest rooms in 30 states.

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