Chiller maintenance: don't get left in the cold


08 February 2017
​With chilly weather upon us, now is the time to ensure you don’t get caught out by having planned, preventative maintenance on your HVAC Chillers. Here are five key preventative chiller maintenance tips from Airedale’s UK Service Manager, Adrian Trevelyan, to help maintain high efficiency, maximise resilience, uptime and improve the longevity of your air conditioning system during the winter months.
Maintain glycol levels
Once temperatures drop below zero, the water in chilled water systems can freeze and potentially cause thousands of pounds worth of damage. Ethylene glycol is the most common chemical used to combat freezing in chillers. The amount of glycol you need in your system should be specified in the documentation issued with the unit; these levels should be checked and maintained on a regular basis during the cold snap.

Clean coils
Did you know free cooling chiller coils and condenser fans work harder during the coldest spells? With exposure to the harsh winter conditions; a chiller coil or heat exchanger attracts mould, dirt, pollutants and other airborne contaminants. This build-up accumulates gradually, but over time, a dirty coil can reduce airflow drastically. For each 10% reduction in airflow, the efficiency of the chiller drops about 5%. By keeping the coils clean even just by simply wiping away the winter debris can improve energy efficiency.

Check trace heating
Trace heating is used in chillers to protect pipes from freezing, visually checking the trace heating tape for any damage or corrosion, including connections, will ensure there’s no failure and risk of the pipes freezing. If insulation does get damaged faults to earth can be an issue. Check the MCB’s have not tripped. When doing any electrical checks you must ensure this is carried out by a suitably qualified engineer with the correct test equipment.

Unblock strainers
Scale, corrosion, biofilm, weld slag, dirt, iron oxides, and suspended solids can cause serious operational problems when trapped in strainers. Blocked strainers will cause pipe blockages, failed pumps and then potential freeze issues. Prevent this harmful clogging by cleaning the strainers regularly.

Look out for pipe fractures
HVAC piping encompasses many different fluids, pressures, and temperatures. As mentioned previously if piping is damaged or fractured as a result of changes to weather conditions and low glycol levels, piping can burst and cause unwanted leaks. Give your system a frequent winter health check and spot those pipe fractures and take remedial action before it’s too late.

Knowing that you have immediate help on hand, day or night, is reassuring when you are responsible for the cooling systems that are keeping critical infrastructure running 24/7.

Planned maintenance not only assists in preventing unit breakdowns in business critical environments, but also helps to improve energy efficiency and enhance system optimisation for improved performance. Rewards include reduced running costs, quicker payback periods and potentially longer life, plus less carbon emissions.
Find out more about Airedale’s service plans.
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