The winter months have arrived, and you can feel it in the air. Now is the perfect time for a chiller inspection. Industrial chillers lower the temperature in your commercial building by collecting hot air and moving it elsewhere. When summer comes around again, you’ll want your chiller operating at full force.
Chiller maintenance services keep your equipment in shape, and preventative maintenance in particular keeps it energy efficient. Learn about a few maintenance tasks you can perform to keep your chiller in good health.
Industrial chillers are heat transfer machines that remove heat from processes in your facility and send it somewhere else. If your commercial building uses machinery that produces a lot of hot air, you need a refrigeration system to keep the operating conditions for your equipment under control and provide a comfortable environment for your workers.
Chillers that receive routine preventative maintenance operate at peak performance longer without wasting energy. Equipment that operates with leaking refrigerant, poor lubrication, or malfunctioning evaporator or condenser tubes can increase operating costs for your property and shorten the life of your chiller.
There are three types of industrial chillers: water-cooled, air-cooled, and evaporative condensed chillers. They each have different components and require specific treatment when it comes to chiller maintenance services. Here are short explanations for each type:
These are the most common types of chiller. They use water from a cooling tower to remove heat from the refrigerant in the condenser. The chiller then transforms the refrigerant into a liquid and recirculates it through the system. Water-cooled chillers are quieter and more energy efficient than other types, and they’re appropriate for commercial cooling due to their size and portability.
Air-cooled chillers use natural air and moisture to remove heat from the refrigerant before recirculation. The chiller also uses air fans to shorten the cooling process. Unlike water-cooled chillers, air-cooled machines are noisy due to their fans. They also produce plenty of heat, so consider an alternative if your property has temperature requirements.
Evaporative chillers have condenser tubes that are exposed to a consistent flow of water. This water chills and condenses the refrigerant. Evaporative chillers are an energy-efficient option for large commercial buildings since they don’t rely on the same ambient conditions as air-cooled chillers.
Here are a few tips for chiller preventive maintenance:
Keeping a daily record of operating conditions, pressures, flow rates, fluid levels, and other variables can help you predict future damage to your chiller. With a history of operating conditions, you can publish trend reports to detect early malfunctions and schedule chiller repairs as needed.
Condenser and evaporator tubes are essential to maintaining peak chiller performance. When minerals, mud, algae, and other contaminants cling to your tubes, they increase the thermal resistance of your machine and impact heat transfer performance. Inspecting and cleaning your machinery before warm weather hits ensures heat exchange goes as planned.
Unclean equipment impacts your entire chiller. Some chiller condensers have water loops that use cooling towers. Cooling towers require proper water treatment to reduce corrosion and contamination in condenser tubes. If biological growths and corrosion develop in your water loops, the heat transfer of your chiller suffers.
Check your water loops yearly. If you have trouble detecting contaminant buildup, look at the coils closely with a flashlight. Don’t forget to disconnect the power before cleaning and protect your electrical equipment from water.
Chiller maintenance service isn’t complete without an examination of the compressor oil. You should collect compressor oil samples for chemical analysis at least once a year. If you need to change the oil, be sure you test the filters and replace them if needed. However, if your commercial building uses a frictionless magnetic bearing chiller, you don’t need to follow this step—frictionless chillers don’t use oil.
Chillers use a lot of electricity, which increases operational costs. Installing variable frequency drives (VFDs) maximizes uptime for your equipment by offering precise speed control, energy efficiency, simplified architecture, and many power range options. VFDs reduce energy waste and function well under almost any operating condition.
To maintain your VFD, check the safety and sensor calibrations on the equipment’s microprocessor controls yearly. Thermally scan wiring, switchgear, and electrical connections for worn contacts. Check the shaft seal for refrigerant leaks and clean the motor’s cooling air vents. If you keep your VFDs in good shape, you can reduce the stress your chillers experience when starting and stopping repeatedly.
The flow rate of chilled water affects your chiller’s cooling performance. When performing chiller maintenance services, make sure your chiller runs between 2.5 and 3 gallons per minute (GPM) per ton for optimal heat exchange.
Don’t wait for summer. HVAC chiller maintenance is best done when you need the equipment the least. At the same time, keeping track of all the things you need to check for your chiller can be challenging. Frazier Service’s technicians can step in to perform preventative maintenance for your refrigeration system.
Our chiller maintenance services include a thorough assessment of your industrial chiller. We inspect and clean your chiller’s tubes and cooling towers and detect issues before they result in an outage. Reach out today to learn how our experts can set your chillers up for long-term success.