Stamford, Conn. — The colder weather is fast approaching, which means it is the perfect time to start getting your facility or plant ready for winter. Goodway Technologies recommends performing proper maintenance and cleaning on chiller systems after their shutdown to avoid headaches down the road.
For many, being proactive with chiller maintenance in the early winter has led to better results in the spring when it’s time to start the systems up again. Performing chiller maintenance as early in the winter as possible gives facility managers the benefit of finding major damage with plenty of time to fix the problems before the chiller needs to be back in operation.
“Chillers are one of the biggest contributors to operational expenses in a facility’s HVAC system which means any problems can lead to additional costs,” says Tim Kane, President of Goodway Technologies. “Failing to perform adequate maintenance can also lead to additional repairs and a loss in production time.”
After performing maintenance, it’s a good idea to measure efficiency gains, which can show facility managers important information, including costs saved as a result of regular maintenance. A proper operating log can also help identify areas that show improvement following chiller maintenance.
Steps to Improve Chiller Maintenance
Developing a plan or checklist for chiller maintenance can be beneficial and helps you stay on track while keeping equipment running properly and efficiently.
• Step 1: Maintain a Daily Operating Log — The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) recommends updating the log four times a day to monitor key operating parameters that will help indicate if any problems are developing.
• Step 2: Keep Tubes Clean — Fouling and scale can reduce efficiency. Goodway offers a calculator to estimate how much money is being expended due to the presence of scale in chillers. For example, a 500-ton chiller with a moderate amount of scale deposit (0.012”) can cost an additional $7,020. Regular monitoring can help recognize when tube cleaning should take place, however it is recommended at least once a year. Pressure loss can also indicate tube corrosion. Goodway has a selection of ScaleBreak® chemical descaling solutions, mechanical tube cleaning solutions and expert consulting services to find the proper cleaning approach.
• Step 3: Ensure a Leak-Free Unit — Leaks can affect the efficiency and operation of the system while releasing hazardous refrigerants. Refrigerant levels should stay within the manufacturer’s recommended levels. An air-purge timer (increases 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 are all ways to help track refrigerant levels.
• Step 4: Sustain Proper Water Treatment — Between cleanings, it is important to implement a water treatment program. Water treatment helps to prevent the buildup of contaminants on heat-transfer surfaces that can lead to loss of efficiency and also lead to the growth of harmful bacteria. Each facility is different, so it is important to speak with an expert resource to identify a proper water treatment program.
How Cooling Towers Can Boost Chiller Efficiency
While not all chiller systems include a cooling tower, if your facility has one, it should be included in your chiller maintenance plan. What many facility managers often forget is that the cooling tower’s performance also has a direct link to chiller efficiency. A survey conducted by Goodway found that 90 percent of facility managers and personnel have a documented cooling tower maintenance program in place and 85 percent maintain a daily log of critical system components. So, it’s clear that cooling tower maintenance is a top priority. In fact, for each degree that condenser supply temperature is above design specifications, chiller efficiency is reduced by two percent.
When left unmaintained, the warm water in cooling towers can promote algae growth, and flash evaporation can produce hard scale deposits or calcium fouling. Cooling tower fill acts like a massive air scrubber, coming into contact with dust, pollen and insects, which contribute to bacteria growth. This creates a breeding ground for bacteria such as Legionella. Like chillers, regularly cleaning cooling towers can decrease the chances of equipment corrosion or breakdowns and can increase plant efficiency.
Goodway carries a variety of chiller tube and cooling tower cleaning equipment that make are simple to use and can be operated by one person. The recently launched GDS-100 is a portable, clean-in-place pump system that is ideal for larger descaling cleanings, but can also accommodate smaller applications. Visit www.goodway.com for additional education and check out the wide array of facility maintenance tools available to sustain HVAC equipment.
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