Maintenance Is Critical To Maintain Chiller Performance and Efficiency

A properly planned and executed maintenance program is critical to both extend the life of your investment in your chillers and operate them at peak efficiency. Critical aspects include reducing fouling and scale, inspecting refrigerants and keeping a daily log.

Look At Your Log

According to facilitiesnet.com, the heart of any chiller maintenance program is an operating log. The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) agrees, saying you should be filling it out four times a day (click on operating log above to see a sample log created by FEMP). Chiller problems tend to develop slowly and the daily tracking of key operating parameters will alert you to problems before they get out of hand.

Focus on Fouling and Scaling

According to betterbricks.com, tube bundles should be inspected every year when you take your system down for winterizing, at which time you can consider doing eddy current testing to see of any tubes are corroded to the point they need to be replaced. But during the year, you can monitor pressure loss across either the condenser or evaporator bundles. If there is a drop of more than 3-4 psi, you may have a fouling problem.

Because fouling and scale reduce efficiency, drive up operating costs and can lead to tube failure, most manufacturers suggest cleaning tubes once a year, or more often if regular monitoring suggests you will need to clean more often.

Watch Your Water

Betterbricks.com also suggests that a key to chiller maintenance is to also monitor water quality. Since it doesn’t require a whole lot of fouling or scale buildup to cause problems, you should keep a close on water treatment and chemistry.

Review Your Refrigerant

Another critical aspect of chiller maintenance is to keep an eye on refrigerant levels, making sure they stay within the manufacturer’s recommended levels. Ways to track refrigerant levels include the use of an air-purge timer (an increase in air-purge time may indicate a leak), checking the refrigerant sight-glass for bubbles and checking at all joints and connections with a gas analyzer.

At a time when the cost pressures of a poor economy are compelling us to do the most with every dollar we spend, an up-to-date chiller maintenance program is critically important. The savings in energy costs brought about by diligent maintenance can be significant.

Rich Silverman
Goodway Blogging Team

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