How to Choose the Right Tube Cleaner for Optimal Chiller Cleaning

The cost of running HVAC systems on commercial properties is a large part of their operating budget. Whether using chillers for residential or commercial comfort, process cooling, or other industrial applications, keeping systems running efficiently is a fast way to pad the bottom line. Skipping maintenance impacts the chiller’s performance and reduces plant efficiency.

Keeping the evaporator and condenser tubes free of fouling and tube corrosion is a critical preventative maintenance task for chillers. A proper water treatment program always helps, but physical cleaning is required. Failing to maintain chiller tubes leads to scaling, corrosion, and reduced heat transfer throughout the cooling system. As heat transfer efficiency falls, operating and maintenance costs go up. Cleaning can deliver significant energy savings. Additionally, other system components like compressors and pumps need to work harder when tubes are fouled and dirty, adding to operating costs and wear and tear to those items. Read on to learn how to choose the right tube cleaner to maximize your chiller cleaning.

The Importance of Maintenance/Chiller Cleaning

A commercial HVAC chiller system generally relies on water as its heat transfer method. The heat transfer process removes heat from the water, transferring it to another fluid, thereby cooling it. It then pumps cooled water through air handlers in the facility, computer room, or the manufacturing process. In that process heat is absorbed into the water (causing a cooling effect) and sent back to the chiller, or to a cooling tower, or air-cooled heat exchanger to dissipate the absorbed heat. The water is then returned to the chiller for further cooling.

A chiller system with poor heat transfer cannot chill areas to the preferred temperature.

Contaminants in chiller tubes lead to poor heat transfer. Hard water minerals, scaling, algae, and other debris can block condenser and evaporator tubes and impair their functioning.

Five Reasons to Perform Chiller Tube Cleaning

  • Maintain heat transfer efficiency
  • Ensure energy-efficient operation
  • Produce fewer greenhouse gases
  • Protect the HVAC system from early failures
  • Reduce unplanned downtime

Need Help Choosing the Right Tube Cleaner? We’ve Compiled These Tips:

Whether cleaning chiller tubes for the first time or it’s time for a process review, it’s essential to examine the options available. Many techniques exist for heat exchanger and chiller tube cleaning. Here are five steps to help choose the right options for a cleaning application.

Step 1: Choose a cleaning method. Common chiller tube cleaning procedures include:

  • Rod and brush. This is the oldest and least effective method. It is time-consuming and delivers varying results.
  • Chemical descalers. Circulates an acid-based chiller cleaning chemical through the chiller to remove hard mineral deposits. This method works well with rotary tube cleaners when heavy scale is present.
  • Rotary tube cleaners. A common and effective chiller tube cleaning procedure removes various deposits.

Step 2: Determine the deposit type. Before choosing a cleaning method, determine the deposit type. Is it:

  • Light to medium buildup, such as algae, mud or slime?
  • Crusty buildup, such as scale or other mineral deposits?

Goodway offers chiller tube cleaning systems with different technical features, such as integrated water flushes, reversible brush rotation, or variable speed brush rotation, each designed for specific types of buildup. Matching the brush bristles to the deposit is important.

Step 3: Check chiller tube types. Knowing the types of chiller tubes being cleaned helps technicians select the right tools for the job.

  • Smoothbore tubes: These tubes have smooth walls and are commonly used in chiller heat exchanger tubes.
  • Internally enhanced tubes: These tubes, found in newer chillers and heat exchangers, have spiral grooves inside to create more turbulence as water passes through. The design provides more surface area in the tube, which correlates to better heat exchange and less energy consumption. However, more effective, internally enhanced tubes present unique tube cleaning challenges.

Each tube type requires special tools. For instance, a system with variable-speed brush rotation works best for internally enhanced tubes.

Step 4: Select the right brush. Goodway offers high quality brushes designed to fit each curve and crevice inside chiller tubes and for different deposit types. Brush types include:

  • Patriot Duel Diameter Nylon Brushes: Best for removing soft deposits in internally enhanced tubes.
  • Blue Nylon Brushes: Best for removing soft deposits in straight tubes.
  • Grit Brushes: Best with light, hard deposits, such as mineral buildup in smooth bore tubes.
  • Brass brushes: Best for light to medium hard deposits in smooth bore tubes.
  • Specialized Cleaning Tools: Available to solve other tube cleaning challenges, even completely clogged tubes.

Step 5: Choose the right cleaner. Choose between AWT-100X Air Powered Tube Cleaner, RAM-4-ID, and RAM-5-ID, and other Goodway cleaners. Each cleaner offers features and benefits to clean chiller tubes in specific situations. A Goodway sales representative can match a cleaner to the chiller tube and deposits involved.

Download the complete Chiller Tube Cleaner Buying Guide.

Using Tube Cleaners to Clean Dirty Chiller Tubes

Choosing the right tube cleaner comes down to specific differences in power needs, applications, and business needs. Whatever the need, Goodway Technologies has them covered.

Goodway recently updated its most popular tube cleaning systems.

  • AWT-100X Air Powered Tube Cleaner: The most powerful and versatile chiller tube cleaning solution from Goodway. This tube cleaner delivers portability and intuitive technology for tubes, pipes, and more, in wet or dry cleaning conditions. The chiller tube cleaning machine uses air pressure, and a cleaning tool mounted to the tip of a flexible shaft, to remove tough deposits from boilers, heat exchangers, and large pipes.
  • RAM-4-ID: The all-new RAM-4-ID is the fifth generation of this market-leading tube cleaner. It features a sleek modern design, improved portability, and intuitive controls for simple, one-person operation. Using a flexible shaft with reversible rotation and integrated water flush, the Goodway tube cleaning system delivers powerful performance for fast, effective cleaning of tubes/pipes ¼-inch to 1-inch (6.4-25.4mm) in diameter in chillers, condensers, evaporators, absorption machines, and heat exchangers.
  • RAM-5-ID: This Speed Feed Goodway tube cleaner takes high-speed tube cleaning to new levels and is designed for contractors and facility managers with large tube bundles. The system features the Goodway exclusive Speed Feed gun system that automatically inserts and removes the shaft into tubes to clean them up to four times faster than other condenser tube cleaning systems. Users can dial in the system’s rotating shaft speed to meet the cleaning needs of specific tube types. Adding in an integrated water flush creates a speedy method for cleaning tubes/pipes ¼-inch to 1-inch (6.4-25.4mm) in diameter in chillers, condensers, evaporators, absorption machines, and heat exchangers.

Next Steps

Keeping evaporator and condenser tubes free of fouling ensures chillers operate as they should. Goodway offers chiller cleaning tools, chemicals, and systems to handle virtually any chiller cleaning need. Additionally, regularly cleaning cooling towers will reduce tube fouling if your system has a cooling tower installed. But don’t go it alone. Call a Goodway Industrial expert to reveal the best cleaning methods, tools, and chemicals for your chiller application.

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