Maintenance of large-scale or industrial-sized machines is a constant process. Machines and their systems operating properly not only extend their life but can affect the performance and output of an entire company. Industrial chillers, for example, work to reduce the heat produced by the operation of industrial machines.
If these essential components aren’t working correctly, factories and facilities can experience many problems. Proper chiller maintenance is necessary to avoid too much excess chiller repair. Let’s examine some of the most significant maintenance mistakes to avoid to keep your chiller working properly and effectively.
Importance of Chiller Maintenance
Like any machine or operating system, more time spent on maintenance equates to less time on repairs or replacement parts. Regularly scheduled maintenance can become part of a daily, weekly, and monthly checklist of items to monitor and observe. By keeping tabs and recording measurements like system pressure, fluid levels, operating temperatures, and flow rates, companies can keep their chillers performing at peak levels for many years.
With proper maintenance, though, chiller tubes can become blocked, condenser water can be protected, and machines will run hotter without adequate lubrication. These, and other operating issues, can cause a system to become inefficient and reduce its capacity for handling its jobs.
Fortunately, some standard procedures will help monitor your chiller’s operational efficiency and output levels. Avoid these five maintenance mistakes to get the best return on your company’s chiller investment.
Mistake #1: Neglecting Regular Maintenance
It may seem like a cliché to advocate for consistent maintenance. Unfortunately, many businesses and organizations fail to commit to this simple practice. With industrial chillers, the maintenance starts with measuring how well the unit does its job daily or weekly. Recording the numbers for operating temperature, pressure, fluid levels, and flow rates is a simple yet necessary task.
Additionally, there should be a checklist of tasks and recordings to help measure and monitor the effectiveness of your chiller. For instance, cleaning the chiller tubes to remove debris, calcification, or scaling build-up improves the unit’s efficiency and helps keep thermal resistance low. Annual cleanings should be a standard procedure.
If maintenance isn’t regularly handled, the chiller will be less able to perform its job, the company may experience lower productivity, and more repairs may be necessary for the unit or system. This is a burden for any business, both economically and in terms of overall productivity.
Mistake #2: Overlooking Water Treatment
The condenser water used in the chiller should be regularly treated, cleaned, purged, and refilled. Over time, the water can become dirty with debris or cause corrosion or scaling in the chiller tubes. Dirty or contaminated water reduces the effectiveness of the chiller.
Left untreated for too long, water contaminants can cause excess pressure in the system. They can also increase the amount of work the chiller needs to do and can impede heat transfer, which is the unit’s primary function. Bacterial content is also a concern for chiller water and is another reason to monitor and maintain the water regularly.
Mistake #3: Ignoring Refrigerant Leaks
In an industrial setting, a chiller removes excess heat from the machinery and the work area. Keeping machinery cooler helps to improve efficiency and life expectancy. Employees also deserve reasonable working conditions, and a chiller is partially responsible for maintaining those conditions.
When there is a refrigerant leak, the chiller will work harder than necessary to maintain proper operating conditions. The compressor in the chiller will run for extended periods without reaching the desired level of thermal offset. Ultimately, this will reduce the life of the chiller.
Plus, a refrigerant leak can harm employees and the environment, especially if it goes unchecked for a long time. It can also increase operating costs for the company through added maintenance and coolant refills.
Mistake #4: Not Monitoring Operating Conditions
Expanding on the necessity of regular maintenance, monitoring operating conditions is critical to identifying small problems before they become too big or potentially dangerous. It’s recommended that all companies maintain a daily recorded history of the fluid and coolant levels, operating temperatures, and temperature fluctuations. Oil and lubricant levels should also be recorded to avoid mechanical breakdowns.
Other operating conditions to monitor can include:
- Safety and operating control settings
- Compressor motor operation and volts/amps
- Fan speed controllers, assembly, lubrication, and rotation
- Condenser/evaporator controls and moisture indicators
- Oil pressure and levels
- Evaporator water flow
- Water temperature controls and measurement
- Overall structural integrity, increased vibrations, or new sounds or noises
It may seem simple, but detecting noticeable changes in the unit’s operational noises can give great insight into changing internal conditions of your chiller. Choosing to involve a professional maintenance service is often the best solution for detecting early warning signs of potential problems.
Mistake #5: Failing to Hire a Professional
Last, but certainly not least for most companies is the importance of involving a professional in their chiller installation and maintenance needs. The knowledge and experience of a professional chiller technician cannot be overstated. Their expertise in industrial systems will allow them to quickly and consistently monitor and identify any problems or issues that need addressing.
Many companies or organizations have found that it’s more beneficial to hire a professional maintenance service to help keep track of their industrial chillers. Using a professional service takes the emphasis off of the company’s employees to become experts in chiller maintenance. Employees can still learn about the unit and ask specific questions, without the fear of overlooking a critical warning sign due to inexperience.
Plus, the company and the maintenance vendor can develop a strong working relationship, which can prove beneficial when additional installations, repairs, or replacements are needed. Working with professionals has so many benefits for both the client and the service provider.
At Complete Engineered Solutions, our team can assist customers starting in the planning stages, through the installation, and into regularly scheduled maintenance, without missing a beat. Our experienced and well-trained staff can meet with individual clients and determine the perfect plan for their industrial chiller needs.CES can also provide installations and professional services for industrial air compressors, nitrogen generators, and vacuum systems. We offer a selection of different models for each of these systems. We strive to meet the specific needs of every customer we interact with. Contact us to see what we can offer and how we can transform your business today.