Commercial Chiller Cleaning and More: The Experts Speak (Part 1)
Well, the calendar has once again rolled ’round to what’s commonly referred to in song — most famously by Andy Williams — as “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” And that means it’s the blessed season when our hearts and minds turn not only to the joys of parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, and all of that, but to the job of cleaning those HVAC chillers and other components. Naturally, we at Just Venting are here to help.
To begin with, we’re happy to point you to a pair of useful articles by Goodway’s own Customer Service & Technical Manager, Steve Spielmann. Steve’s a long-time expert in the field, and whether you just need a quick brush-up on chiller-cleaning basics or a detailed look at the ins and outs of the whole thing, he’s your man.
In “Cleaning Tubes in Boilers, Chillers, & Heat Exchangers,” Steve offers a high-level overview of various cleaning processes that will benefit anybody who’s involved with these types of HVAC systems. The topics and info presented in the article include:
● Cleaning boiler tubes: types of boilers (firetube and watertube), how they work, how and why to clean them
● How deposits on boiler tubes affect heat transfer
● Cleaning chiller tubes: advances in cleaning methods over time, best practices using today’s technology
● Cleaning heat exchangers: advances in cleaning methods over time, comparison of effective methods used today
In short, it’s a mountain of highly educational and extremely practical stuff, all of it cleanly and effectively organized for easy comprehension.
In “An Overview: Chiller Tube Cleaning” — written for Contracting Business, the leading business-to-business magazine for commercial, residential, and industrial HVACR contractors — Steve describes the various methods for accomplishing the task named in the title, and hashes out their respective advantages and disadvantages. Here’s the condensed version:
● Rod and brush: The oldest and least pleasant method. It’s a low-cost and fairly straightforward operation, but it’s not always entirely effective, and it’s pretty unpleasant for the technician.
● Chemical cleaning: It can be marvelously effective, but it can also be expensive, time-consuming, and dangerous. Plus it runs into a nest of legal restrictions and other concerns when the time comes to dispose of the chemicals, and it requires a lot of training and expertise.
● Tube cleaning guns: Fast, efficient, and effective, with little training needed. But also limited in application, somewhat costly (for purchasing and maintaining high pressure cleaning units), and possibly dangerous for the technician if proper precautions aren’t followed.
● On line systems: Effective (when water treatment is right) and totally hands-off for maintenance personnel. But also expensive, and not suitable for areas where scaling occurs.
● Rotary tube cleaners: Affordable, effective, efficient. Only requires a single operator, plus it’s the most effective method for cleaning newer chillers with internally enhanced tubes. On the downside, it’s slower than tube cleaning guns, and it requires well-trained operators.
Here’s Steve’s bottom line:
Chiller maintenance is important for optimizing efficiency and extending equipment life. It takes training and knowledge to perform chiller maintenance properly. Isn’t it interesting that the single biggest determinant of chiller efficiency is the cleanliness of heat transfer surfaces — primarily the tubes?
The technologies discussed here enable maintenance personnel to get their tubes clean quickly and with minimal effort. Keep those tubes clean! It will save you money.
We hope this all helps to get you going. In a near-future post, we’ll offer some additional helpful advice about chiller cleaning from a couple of other experts.
Goodway Blogging Team
Image courtesy of Goodway Technologies
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