Is Your Chiller Having a Heart Attack?

A heart attack begins when blood flow to a part of the heart muscle becomes blocked. A fatty material, called plaque, builds up on the walls of the coronary arteries.

iStock_000035380934SmallThose arteries supply blood and oxygen to the heart, making them essential for the heart to function properly. When the arteries become clogged a heart attack is most often the end result.

Your chiller could be experiencing an event similar to a heart attack.

Even the best water treatment can’t stop the formation of mineral deposits on chiller condenser tubes. Without ongoing maintenance to remove these deposits, through chemical and mechanical means, these deposits begin to act as channels that provide optimal areas where more scale can build up.

Much like the plaque that can build up in your veins, once the process starts, little can be done to prevent it. Ultimately it leads to scale buildup that puts stress on pumps and other key components just as coronary arteries can become clogged and put stress on your heart. If left untreated, a chiller can fail in the same way a heart fails.

Symptoms of underlying “chiller heart disease” include:

  • An increase in the condenser outlet temperature. For every one degree increase in the temperature of the leaving condenser water, the chiller efficiency decreases by up to 2%. The culprit is typically scaled tubes.
  • An increase in refrigerant approach temperature, indicating deteriorating chiller efficiency. Again, usually due to scaled tubes.

Chillers account for over 50% of the electrical usage in most facilities, according to the North Carolina Energy Office. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that chillers are expending up to an additional 30% in energy through inefficiencies.

The main culprit behind the inefficiencies is scaling on tube surfaces. There are more than 100,000 inefficient chillers in the United States, costing industries billions of dollars each year in wasted energy.

“In my twenty years of experience, and I’ve seen it firsthand many times, people think that water treatment alone will keep tubes clear and chillers running efficiently. Well, it always comes as a surprise when things go south,” says Ray Field, BChE., of Goodway Technologies. “The smallest amount of scale really lowers chiller efficiencies. It is surprising how scale and corrosion are linked as well as bio-fouling. All these processes end up allowing even more deposition and fouling to take place, so make sure that regular cleanings and inspections go hand-in-hand with water treatment.”

Once this process starts, additional water treatments can do little to prevent future buildup and in most cases will not reverse its effects. Ongoing maintenance at scheduled intervals, or as symptoms appear, is the best defense against your chiller’s heart attack.

Goodway has all the products you need to prevent your chiller from having a heart attack.

A water flush with a tube cleaner cleans tubes quickly, removing any clogs. Our “How To Clean Chiller Tubes” checklist details the step-by-step tube cleaning process. Goodway’s tube cleaners can clean straight and spiral enhanced chiller tubes.

Our rotary tube cleaning technology removes tough deposit buildup quickly. Our chemical descalers work to soften thick scale, speeding up the cleaning process and periodic descaling prevents future build up.

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