Planning to Skip Chiller Maintenance? Think Again.
Proper chiller maintenance might seem overwhelming, expensive and lower on the list of priorities, but its benefits can be substantial.
Chiller tubes are susceptible to the buildup of scale and other sediments and residue, including mud, slime, sludge, and algae. These inefficiencies can have a major impact on an organization's bottom line.
Chillers can expend up to an additional 30 percent in energy through inefficiencies, according to U.S. Department of Energy, which recommends that technicians perform certain chiller maintenance operations - including cleaning and Eddy current testing of condenser and evaporator tubes - at least once a year.
Chiller maintenance plan
A chiller maintenance plan or checklist is an ideal way for managers and technicians to proactively stay on track and make sure equipment runs efficiently and properly. These steps include:
Maintaining 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 indicate if any problems are developing while also measuring efficiency gains.
Keeping Tubes Clean
Fouling and scale can reduce efficiency. Regular monitoring can help technicians recognize when tube cleaning should take place; it is recommended at least once a year. Pressure loss can also indicate tube corrosion.
Ensuring a Leak Free Unit
Leaks can affect the operation of the system and release hazardous refrigerants.
Sustaining Proper Water Treatment
Failure to perform chiller maintenance also can affect water quality. It does not take much fouling or scale buildup to start impacting the efficiency of the system. Technicians need to keep a close eye on water treatment and chemistry.
Analyzing Oil and Refrigerant
Refrigerant levels should stay within the manufacturer's recommended levels. Using an air-purge timer - increases in air-purge time might indicate a leak - as well as checking the refrigerant sight-glass for bubbles and checking at all joints and connections with a gas analyzer can help technicians track refrigerant levels.
Some Considerations for Cooling Towers
Chiller systems are one of the more complex pieces of equipment in a facility, so it is worth making the investment to take care of it. A cooling tower's performance has a direct link to chiller efficiency. In fact, for each degree that condenser supply temperature is above design specifications, chiller efficiency is reduced by 2 percent.
When left unmaintained, the warm water in cooling towers can promote algae growth, and flash evaporation can produce hard scale deposits and calcium fouling. Cooling tower fill acts a massive air scrubber, encountering dust, pollen and insects, which contribute to bacteria growth.
This situation creates a breeding ground for diseases such as Legionella. As with chillers, regularly cleaning cooling towers can decrease the chances of equipment corrosion or breakdowns and can increase plant efficiency.