Commercial HVACR Coil Cleaning Guide

coil cleaning

HVACR Coil Cleaning: A How-to Guide

Coil Cleaning in commercial facilities is essential to the operation of the equipment. Here, we provide information about why it is so important to perform preventative maintenance to keep these coils clean.

Dirty Coils Waste Energy and Cost Money

A coil fouled with dirt and grime cannot supply proper heat transfer and results in greater energy consumption. Equipment operating with dirty coils can use up to 37% more energy than those with clean coils. Additionally, a dirty system’s cooling capacity can be reduced by as much as 30%. Dirty coils increase operating pressure and temperatures that break down the compressor’s lubricant and result in equipment failure. A failed compressor means no cooling and costly repair.

Commercial Coil Cleaning Frequency

A coil cleaning program should be instituted when the coils are new, clean and should be performed with a frequency to prevent deterioration of the coils. This can be as often as four times a year (monthly cleaning is reported in some areas). If they do not already exist, install easy-to-open panels to gain access to the coils. This will make the job much easier and, consequently, more likely to be done when coil cleaning is necessary.

How to Clean Commercial HVAC Coils

If the coil is contaminated with light dust or dirt not adhered to the fins, blowing low-pressure compressed air across the fins or using a soft bristle brush may be sufficient. Applying plain water or mild detergent solution to the surface, allowing it to sit for a short time, then rinsing is employed in some cases. More aggressive deposits call for the use of stronger cleaning solutions or solvents as required.

Coils can be steam cleaned but require extra care. Steam must be applied at low pressure, and the stream kept parallel to the fins to prevent folding the fins over.

Another popular coil cleaning method employs a garden-type pump sprayer to apply foaming chemicals to the coil surfaces. The foam is allowed to dwell on the surface to saturate the fins. The foam is then vacuumed up, and the process is repeated. Finally, the coil is rinsed with clean water from a hose.

Perhaps the most popular cleaning method used in recent years is using pressure washers to clean coils. Pressure cleaning coils may increase airborne Macromolecular Organic Dust (MOD), which must be contained in the area being cleaned. Pressure cleaning should be done in the opposite direction of airflow through the coil. A cleaning solution can be applied before the pressure rinse using the built-in chemical injection system on the pressure washer or a hand sprayer. Care must be taken when using a pressure washer to avoid damaging the fins on the tubes. Water leaving the coil should be free of particulate.

If it is not, repeat the process. Goodway offers a complete line of CoilPro® coil cleaning machines. The CoilPro® CC-140 is a self-contained two-wheeled cart with its own built-in water and chemical tanks that can operate on building power or an integrated rechargeable battery. It can carry 5 gallons of water or can be connected to the building water supply for continuous operation. It supplies a water stream at up to 140 PSI at 1 GPM using one of four available spray nozzles. The onboard battery and water/chemical tanks allow for use anywhere. Additional models include the CC-600 AC-powered unit, which delivers up to 600 PSI at 1.6 GPM for thicker coils, and the CC-100 backpack coil cleaner unit for extreme portability. Maintenance professionals have enthusiastically received these products, and they represent the first true real breakthrough developments in coil cleaning in a long time.

Don’t Forget the Condensate Pan

The air drawn across a cooling coil contains water vapor that condenses and collects in a pan under the coil called a condensate pan. The pan is connected to a drain line to keep the pan from overflowing and causing damage to the air handler or other building structures. As it is generally wet, microorganisms can form colonies in the condensate pan. Cleaning the condensate pan and checking for proper drainage is an important part of the coil cleaning process.

To help prevent the growth of these organisms, the pan should be treated between cleanings with a biocide. Goodway’s PanCare is one example. PanCare is formulated to prevent the build-up of slime and harmful bacteria in condensate pans. It kills 99% of Legionella Pheumophilia and Salmonella Typhi Bacteria. It also contains a rust inhibitor and an acid rain neutralizer and will work for up to 3 months on a 3 to 5-ton system.

Next Steps:

See our full line of coil cleaning products:

 

Don’t Delay On Coil Cleaning Preventative Maintenance

Coil Cleaning

Preventative Maintenance

HVAC systems rely on cooperation between your evaporator and condenser coils working together to get their job done. Over time, these coils can become dirty, causing the system to lose efficiency by reducing the ability to exchange heat. This causes increased energy costs and reduces the life of HVAC systems. Both are costly. How do you stop this from happening? Preventative maintenance. One of the most important things to do is make sure you follow a good coil cleaning program as part of your overall preventive maintenance program.

Dirty Coils Waste Money

When your HVAC system is operating with dirty coils, it can use up to 37% more energy than if they were clean. [i] A coil that has been fouled up with dirt, grease, or grime cannot work as efficiently as it once did. What are the dirty coils symptoms you need to watch out for?

  •  High Head Pressure
  • High Compression Ratio
  • Compressor Overload
  • Tripping High-Pressure Switch
  • Low Capacity
  • Poor Efficiency
  • Coil Freezing
  • Compressor Damage Due to Liquid Flood Back

Do you want to reduce the chance of issues like this occurring? Make sure you implement coil cleaning as part of your regular maintenance program. Coil cleaning should occur consistently to ensure that there is no build-up or deterioration to the coils. Do it as often as you can, especially in dusty environments, but at a minimum in the Spring and Fall, or depending on the HVAC unit’s amount of use and location.

Lack of Maintenance Reduces Efficiency

When your system is not operating efficiently, your cooling capacity can go down by 30%. Just think of what that does to monthly energy bills.  Staying on top of your coil cleaning maintenance is the only way to ensure you are keeping your HVAC operating at maximum efficiency.

Do you know how to clean coils properly? The severity of the dirt on the coils will determine the cleaning method required; however, the easiest solution is to use a coil cleaning system. These products are specifically designed for cleaning coils. Simple match the system to the right coils. They are available for cleaning evaporator coils, condenser coils in rooftop units (RTU), air-cooled chillers and heat exchangers, air handling units (AHU), PTAC units, and more.

When using coil cleaning systems, it is essential to use a machine that provides just the right amount of PSI pressure to keep coils from becoming damaged. Smaller units require lower PSI and lower water volumes. In contrast, larger condenser coils may require higher pressures and water volumes up to 3.5 gallons per minute.

The Proof Preventative Maintenance Matters

You don’t have to take our word that good coil maintenance and cleaning matters. Experts have done their own research to explore how efficient an HVAC system can be with the proper maintenance. A study printed in the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE) Journal concluded that good maintenance and operation practices (including coil cleaning) could improve energy performance and indoor air quality performance.

Co-op City, a 300-acre complex with multiple establishments, and houses a total of 15,372 apartments (one of the largest New York undertakings) that are heated and cooled by convectors called Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners (PTACs). PTACs are the type of units you would find in hotel rooms. When asked how they were handling the 60,000 to 80,000 coils that make up the units, the answer was by “replacement.” When asked how they were handling the 60,000 to 80,000 coils that make up the units, the answer was by “replacement.” When a maintenance plan was introduced, the maintenance manager reported that they were doing 50% fewer replacements of the coils due to cleaning them without removing them. The Co-op City air quality was improved, and the efficiency in the units multiplied.

Westchester One houses five separate data rooms, all of which require significant amounts of cooling. Many of these server rooms operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year-and the HVAC must too. There are reports that the energy bills from Westchester One have reduced by thousands because they can use the whole coil for the operation now that they can properly clean them. One bill was even $20,000 below budget!

See the Proof with Your Own Eyes

If you have been looking for a way to make the HVAC at your home or business, run more efficiently, our coil cleaning solution to help you satisfy those needs. There is no longer a need to remove coils or replace them consistently when you can clean them and extend their lives (and the life of your unit).

You don’t have to take our word for it. Try it yourself and see just how much more efficient your system is and how much money you can save. When you begin your coil cleaning program, you will see in a short time just how much better your unit runs when you keep it clean and maintained. For help deciding what solution is best for you, check out our Coil Cleaning Buying Guide.

 

[i] https://www.sce.com/regulatory/energy-efficiency-filings/monthly-energy-efficiency-reports

[ii] https://www.sce.com/regulatory/energy-efficiency-filings/monthly-energy-efficiency-reports

 

NEXT STEPS:

Check out our Coil Cleaning Systems and Chemicals

Download our Coil Cleaning Pro Guide

Read Buying a Coil Cleaning System? Avoid these Five Mistakes

Discover our Coil Cleaner Buying Guide

 

 

Disinfection in the Classroom

Space4Learning 2020 Product Award

 

As the school year comes into the winter months the topic on the top of many minds is how to keep students, employees, and staff safe during the colder months.

Some kids are learning from their dining room tables, side by side with their siblings with a laptop in front of each face. 

Some kids are spending only a few days in the classroom each week, with only half the desks filled by their peers.

Even kids who are heading back to school full-time have a new, unique experience; mandatory masks, temperature checks, and social distancing are becoming part of the new normal for education. 

But even with all these new precautions, teachers, parents, and students have to wonder: is the school safe? The answer is based on a variety of factors – and school surface disinfection ranks high on the list. Before any school can deem itself self safe, it must take time to fully clean the facility from the baseboard to the HVAC vents.

HVAC Systems and School Safety

Air quality has always been an important part of the educational experience. If the air quality in your schools can trigger a myriad of health problems like asthma, headaches, eye irritation, and everything in between. Furthermore, studies have shown that poor indoor air can actually interfere with cognitive function – literally making it harder for students to learn during the school day! 

Of course, COVID-19 has only brought more attention to the importance of air quality – particularly when it comes to HVAC systems. Because we know the coronavirus can spread through droplets in the air, it is important to have clean, maintained filters for your indoor spaces. These filters can help trap virus-containing droplets and prevent them from spreading sickness throughout a building. This is extremely important for places like schools, which see high traffic throughout each day.

The EPA already has high standards for air quality tools in school buildings. However, schools that are reopening after months of lockdown may need to do some additional cleaning before their HVAC systems are ready for students. These systems have been sitting unused for months; as a result, they’re likely filled with dust, debris, and possibly even mold or mildew. A thorough HVAC disinfection is the best way to ensure clean air in every classroom once the students return.

Alcohol-Based Disinfectants: The Perfect Tool for School Disinfection

If you are preparing to keep your school throughout the winter months, you’ll need to make sure every surface (desks, floors, lockers, etc.) is clean as can be. And we DO mean every surface – even your HVAC vents need to be sparkling clean! How can you disinfect such a massive facility in order to keep everyone safe throughout the year?

Quick-drying alcohol-based sanitizers are the perfect solution for disinfecting your school, office, or other large space. A quick-drying, EPA-registered, alcohol-based disinfectant, like our BIOSPRAY-D2, covers over surfaces quickly, easily, and safely. These types of 1-step disinfectants containing ethanol have been proven to rapidly reduce vegetative bacterial pathogens on carriers and on hard and soft surfaces. 

The importance of using strong disinfectant sprays that are strong enough to eliminate germs on surfaces, but gentle enough to use on surfaces around children is an important part of keeping schools open and the children and staff in the classroom safe and healthy. 

The way in which disinfectant products are applied is also crucial. Traditional methods of cleaning and disinfecting, like pump spraying or manually wiping can be ineffective, leaving gaps in coverage. Manual wiping can lead to cross-contamination due to using soiled rags/towels to apply the cleaner. Manual wiping can also lead to injury due to the repetitive nature of the maintenance worker.

An Award-Winning Product

There’s no doubt that Portable BioSpray-5 is one of the best tools available for school disinfection today. In fact, this sanitation system was just awarded the Spaces4Learning New Product Award! This award “honors the outstanding product development achievements of manufacturers and suppliers whose products or services are considered to be particularly noteworthy in their ability to enhance the learning environment,” and we are simply thrilled to have received this incredible honor. 

Visit our website to learn more about BioSpray-5. You can also contact us here with any questions you have about this sanitation system, our disinfecting spray, or any of our other sanitizing products. 

Proper school disinfection is the key to a safe, healthy, and successful year, so make sure your staff and students have the very best!

The True Cost Of HVAC Scale

What can you, as the facility maintenance manager, do about limescale? Limescale and other water-formed deposits can cause major loss of efficiency, increased operating costs, and minimize the life expectancy of capital equipment. But first, as a Facility Manager, how can you tell if your HVAC system is suffering from limescale build-up?

Signs of Increased Cost from Scale Buildup

Some of the symptoms will be gradual because limescale deposits build up over time. But small changes in equipment efficiencies can be a sign of limescale growth. Here are some additional signs that show you need to tackle your limescale problem:

  1. Rising operational costs (including tube or pump failures or the chiller shutting down due to high head pressure)
  2. Increased equipment downtime
  3. Progressively growing heating and cooling energy costs
  4. Poor equipment (boiler, chiller, heat exchanger, or tower) performance, including high head pressures or pump reading more elevated than usual

Rising operational costs

If your HVAC gas or electric bill is rising with no change in facility operational hours, there’s a good chance you’ve got limescale problems. Scale deposits can lead to significant increases in energy costs by reducing the heat transfer surface on both cooling (chiller) and heating (boiler) systems. Consequently, more energy is required to achieve the same level of heating or cooling when limescale fouling is impeding the energy coefficients. Also, the reduction in pipe diameter means your pumps work harder to move the same amount of fluid. This not only increases electricity costs but may lead to premature pump failure. Increased fuel costs mean increased building operating and maintenance costs, which affect the profitability of your business.

Some key findings on the costs of scale are:

  • Energy consumption is increased up to 11% for just 1/16-inch of scale, according to the American Society of Plumbing Engineers
  • Equipment failure rates increase due to scale
  • Scale often necessitates the use of chemicals to counter hard water use. Detergent usage increases by 2-4% percent per 1,000 gallons of water.

Want to find out what scale is really costing you? 

Increased equipment downtime

When left to build up inside HVAC components, scale deposits will eventually require removal for the equipment to function. Depending on the amount of build-up, the equipment may experience downtime for days or weeks. This downtime quickly cuts into the operational capability of a building, and if all HVAC systems serving a building are down, the building may have to cease operation entirely until the problem is fixed.

Preventing equipment downtime is one of the most significant concerns of facility managers, yet some may not realize that they need to practice correct preventative maintenance plans on their systems to prevent downtime. Naturally, all equipment will experience some sort of downtime for maintenance, but when equipment downtime sharply increases for cleaning, it may be evidence of a larger scale build-up problem.

Progressively increasing heating and cooling energy costs

Progressively increasing heating and cooling costs can be a reliable indicator of scale build-up inside HVAC components affecting the performance and efficiency of HVAC systems. This is especially true when heating and cooling costs increase despite a relatively stable period of climate and building usage.

Facility managers are certainly in tune with the energy costs that a building accrues. Energy costs are often one of the most significant operations and maintenance budget items that a facility manager is concerned about. If patterns of rising heating and cooling costs show a decline in efficiency, it may be time to clean the system entirely of scale build-up.

Poor equipment performance

Poor equipment performance – like on boilers, chillers, heat exchangers, or cooling towers – is often first noticed by monitoring the key performance indicators of your systems. Things like the pump and head pressures should be monitored daily to identify baselines. This way, any disparency can quickly indicate scale issues.

Scale build-up inside the boiler, chiller, heat exchanger or cooling tower may be causing the lack of performance out of the system. Poor equipment performance will not only deliver inadequate heating or cooling results but also end up costing many multiples of the maintenances costs for replacement.

Preventing Scale Build Up

There are different methods for removing limescale build-up. These methods generally fall into two categories chemical and mechanical.

A combination of water treatment programs along with chemical or mechanical descaling is necessary to keep scale in check.

Chemical descalers are fluids that react with the calcium carbonate, sulfate, or silica build-up to break it down and flush it out of the system.

Mechanical include using rotary tube cleaning or projectile-based systems to remove scale deposits mechanically. They work to remove the mineral deposits plaguing the tubes of HVAC chillers, fire or water tube boilers, heat exchanger tubes/coils, and condenser tubes.

To slow the scale accumulation, water treatment solutions are often employed. Depending on the chemistry of your water source, a water treatment company will come up with the right treatment solution for your boiler or cooling tower. Regular tests and checks are essential to ensure the water is receiving the correct dosage of treatment chemicals. However, no chemical treatment will prevent scale deposits entirely, and so vigilant monitoring of system performance is required.

Next Steps:

If you haven’t been taking preventive action against HVAC limescale, today is an excellent time to start. It is never too late to begin, and you may be amazed by the results you will achieve. While there are many different options on the market today, choosing the right solution for your system is essential.

Get started by maintaining a daily logbook of your system parameters like head pressures, pump pressures, etc. The set up an annual or biannual maintenance cleaning program. This will help you get a handle on your scale problem. Next, get guidance from a reputable descaler manufacturer so you can make the right choices for addressing scale in your facility. With their expertise and products, soon your facility will realize lower running costs and a more efficient HVAC system.

Keep Your Hotel Doors Open by HVAC Maintenance

Anyone in the hospitality industry understands that they are in the business of creating and maintaining customer satisfaction. Few hospitality businesses have to deal with customer comfort complaints more than the hotel business. Often, guests make a decision on leaving a bad review or returning to a hotel again purely based on the interior climate of the room and the level of comfort that this affords them. Guest comfort is most easily thrown off by the interior climate of the room, and according to Travel Plus, 24% of all guest complaints that a hotel receives will be about the temperature in the room.

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system maintains the climate inside the hotel and its effectiveness has a direct connection to guest comfort. The HVAC system is typically the most expensive operating cost that a hotel has, and so penny-pinching hotel managers may be inclined to be frugal with its use or to neglect the proper servicing that it needs to operate. If efforts to save energy and maintain the HVAC system are managed incorrectly, hotel owners can do more damage and incur more costs than they would otherwise by leaving the HVAC system alone.

There are numerous prudent and proactive measures a hotel can put in practice in reducing HVAC energy usage that can lead to significant savings for a building. One of the first steps that a hotel should take is to get an ASHRAE level 2 audit or a retro-commission study done on their building. These studies will provide immediate feedback information and suggest such as: whether the HVAC system currently in operation is the right size, detailed HVAC requirements for the building, and additional impact areas where the hotel improve upon.

Hotel rooms typically each have their own individual room controls for interior temperature, and so there is great variability in room settings and HVAC requirements room by room. The more that an HVAC system is operating to meet individual room requirements, the more energy it is using. Scheduling the HVAC so that it runs only when necessary is one of the best methods to reduce energy use. The HVAC system should be on for a room only immediately before it is occupied and while it is occupied. HVAC running in empty rooms is extremely wasteful and adds significant unnecessary costs to the operating expenses of the hotel. This idea also applies to common spaces such as meeting rooms and banquet halls. These large spaces have a proportionally massive HVAC load compared to the individual hotel rooms and should be placed on an automation system with demand control, temperature, control, and lighting controls.

Building managers can reduce HVAC energy use by as much as ten percent when they implement a disciplined and rigorous HVAC maintenance schedule for their building. Some of the most critical maintenance practices to incorporate into the maintenance plan are dependent on the systems they use, but should include:

  • Visually and systematically inspect all wiring and sensors
  • Clean the system coils (both evaporator and condenser)
  • Replacing filters
  • Test and calibrate system controls
  • Lubricate and adjust equipment on a scheduled basis
  • Inspect and repair any ductwork leaks as needed
  • Replace worn and weather-stripped seals

A maintenance plan that addresses these practices at a minimum will lend numerous benefits over time to building managers. Effective scheduled maintenance is the very best way to avoid unexpected system failures that require costly service calls and room unavailability that eats into profits. Scheduled maintenance also ensures that HVAC equipment lasts longer, which decreases the lifecycle costs experienced and increases the time between extremely costly HVAC system upgrades. As a hotel continues to operate with an effective HVAC maintenance plan, energy bills will reduce month to month, and the hotel can move the savings into improving other aspects of the business.

Goodway Technologies offers numerous products that can make any HVAC preventative maintenance easy. However, in the hotel/motel market, there are two commonly used HVAC systems that Goodway offers advanced products for cleaning a maintaining. The first common HVAC system in hotels is the Packaged Terminal Air Condition (PTAC). The other common system is the Vertical Terminal Air Conditioner (VTAC). Goodway offers multiple products designed to clean these systems in place.

 

Next Steps:

Check out the Goodway site to see the full product line.

Download the Coil Cleaning Pro Guide.

Learn more about Goodway’s CoilPro CC-400HF Coil Cleaner.

Get tips and tricks on Cleaning HVAC Coils Checklist.

© Goodway Technologies, 2022. All rights reserved. Just Venting is powered by Backbone Media, Inc.