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Regardless of its size and occupancy, a building relies on numerous mechanical systems to ensure the safety and comfort of its residents. That's why, whether you're building or remodeling, your project will likely involve some mechanical work. This post will list the various responsibilities of mechanical engineers and discuss ways these professionals can help you on your next project.

What Do Mechanical Engineers Do on Construction Projects?

Mechanical engineers are responsible for designing, building, and servicing various types of building systems. Depending on the project, these may include:

  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • HVAC shafts and ducts
  • Boilers, pumps, compressors
  • Water distribution piping
  • Sewage systems
  • Sprinklers and fire suppression system layouts

Not all projects require each of these components, and some may require some additional elements as well. A mechanical engineer must understand the owner's requirements for the project when designing each of its mechanical components.

What's more, mechanical engineers must ensure that the mechanical components integrate smoothly into the building's architectural and structural layouts. To this end, these professionals have to coordinate their work with all other disciplines working on the project.

When construction begins, the mechanical engineer has to manage the installation of mechanical systems and oversee all relevant substitution requests and change orders. This professional oversight ensures that all the components are installed in compliance with the design requirements. The mechanical engineer shall ensure that the installation of various components fully complements the overall design intent of the project.

Once the mechanical systems are in place, it's the mechanical engineer's job to commission them (verify that they work correctly).

 

Does My Project Need a Mechanical Engineer?

Whether you're remodeling or building from the ground up, regardless of the occupancy type, your project probably involves adding, removing, or modifying some mechanical components. If this is the case, you'll need a mechanical engineer to design the new mechanical layout and oversee the installation or removal of mechanical components. Let's look at some of the mechanical components most commonly needed during construction or affected during remodeling.

HVAC Systems

These systems ensure your home's comfort by cooling and heating the indoor air. They comprise air conditioning units, furnaces, ventilation shafts, ducts, and air filtration systems. Whether you need a brand-new HVAC system for a ground-up project or you're updating the existing one as part of your remodeling project, you'll need an experienced mechanical engineer to design it for you.

A poorly designed heating and cooling system can have a severe impact on your comfort, well-being, and energy costs. Common — and very tangible — effects of unsuitable HVAC equipment can include itchy skin, dry throat, allergies, and uneven heat distribution throughout your home. Likewise, improperly designed conditioning systems can translate into unnecessarily high operating costs.

That's why, first and foremost, your HVAC system must be sized correctly. A mechanical engineer must establish the right heating and cooling loads for this equipment so that it can keep your indoor environment comfortable while using as little energy as possible.

HVAC ductwork is quite intrusive, so you'll also need a professional to design an efficient layout that works in concert with the building's structural and architectural features.

 

Water Heating Systems

Whether you only need hot water for your taps, or you also intend to use it for hydronic heating, you'll need a skilled mechanical engineer to design a water heating system for you. The design includes:

  • A boiler.
  • Pipes that bring hot water to your fixtures.
  • Possibly a network of pipes to supply a hydronic radiant heating system.

All these components must be sized correctly to ensure that you're getting the desired amount of water and heat to meet your building's needs while keeping the heating costs as low as possible.

 

Water Distribution Piping

If you're constructing a new building, a mechanical engineer can help design a piping system that supplies water (hot and cold) to your taps, showers, and appliances.

You may also need this service if you're only remodeling a specific room in your home, such as a kitchen or a bathroom. Even if your remodeling project isn't focused on updating your water distribution system, the latter may need modifications if you're changing the fixtures and appliances' layout. Since moving these components is a costly matter, you should always seek the advice of a skilled mechanical engineer who can ensure that these modifications are cost- and energy-efficient.

 

Sewage Systems

A mechanical engineer can design your building's sewage and stormwater systems.

A building's "used" water is generally grouped into 2 categories: black water and greywater. Blackwater typically comes from flushing toilets and must flow out to the city's sewage system through a network of dedicated pipes. Greywater, which is drained from showers, sinks, kitchen taps, laundry machines, and dishwashers, can often be recycled. A skilled engineer can create efficient layouts for these systems that may help you reduce your water consumption. You can also rely on a mechanical engineer to connect new stormwater and sewage piping to the building’s existing systems. 

 

Sprinklers and Fire Suppression Systems

Sprinklers are now required in all new buildings in California. The requirement also applies if you're remodeling or building an addition to a structure that already has a sprinkler system. A mechanical engineer can help you design a cost-efficient sprinkler system whether you're constructing from the ground up, remodeling, or building an addition.

 

How Design Everest Can Help

Modern buildings rely on a wide array of systems to keep their occupants comfortable. That's why projects large and small often need a design of this equipment's layouts. Mechanical systems are often costly to supply and install and require electricity, water, and gas to operate on an ongoing basis. To save on these systems' upfront and lifecycle costs, you should get a skilled mechanical engineer to design them for you and oversee their installation.

At Design Everest, our team of professional mechanical engineers has been serving California's residents for over 15 years. They have the right expertise to design cost-efficient mechanical systems and will be happy to assist you with your project. Please contact us at (877) 739-2591 for a consultation and a no obligation quote.

*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with members of Design Everest.

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