Planned Chiller Maintenance: How To Get Your HVAC Summer-Ready

industrial chillers

With temperatures in Tulsa already hitting the upper-80s, you’ve got to make sure your commercial or industrial chillers can stand up to the coming summer swelter. Considering the perils of downtime – up to a month if a motor goes out – planned chiller maintenance is imperative. In fact, the No. 1 reason chiller motors fail is lack of maintenance. So, it definitely pays to have a preventive maintenance program with a top-notch commercial HVAC service company (OK Chiller, natch!).

Spring maintenance should include comprehensive inspection, testing, cleaning, lubrication and repairs, plus a current snapshot of your system’s health. Here are our priorities to keep you chillin’:

Clean those coils

On air-cooled equipment, make sure you’re monitoring the condition of your coils and keeping them clean. Dirty coils increase machine pressure, causing higher amperage and spiraling electricity costs. Beyond efficiency problems, running the system high for long periods of time can create equipment damage. So check and clean coils regularly yourself, or have your HVAC service technician do it.

Stay charged up

If your chiller sat idle all winter, did you take bets on whether it would start up again this Spring? Leaks in the piping, fittings or elsewhere in the system can occur during shutdown, leading to low refrigerant charges. Why find out your system’s condition the hard way? During planned chiller maintenance, technicians should leak-check the entire system, repair any leaks, and charge the system with refrigerant.

Brush those tubes for better heat transfer

In centrifugal industrial chillers, if your tubes are free and clear of scale or buildup, you’ll have good heat transfer during the summer months. That requires removing the head from the condenser or the evaporator, and running a brush down the tubes to remove any built-up debris. If daily readings suggest that heat transfer is starting to decrease, start there.

Sending the right signals?

Testing the controls is an essential part of planned maintenance as well as preventative maintenance. If your sensors are inaccurate, they’re sending bad signals to the microprocessors controlling the machines, wreaking all kinds of havoc. That’s why it’s crucial to have the sensors and controls, plus the pressure transducers, calibrated properly.

All about oil – filters and analysis

Oil filters in industrial chillers need to be changed by commercial HVAC service professionals at least once a year. Oil analysis checks the condition of the system oil to make sure it doesn’t contain any kinds of contaminants – especially metals, which signal friction within the machine that’s causing metal wear.

Good vibrations

Annual vibration analysis, which identifies bearings that have failed and those starting to go bad, is a great tool to include in your planned maintenance program. Similarly, Eddy-current testing checks the integrity of the tubes in your heat exchangers. If it detects severe wear, the tube needs to be plugged and taken out of the system.

Small items, big impact

On smaller, air-cooled chillers, you may be able to handle some critical, but often overlooked, maintenance items yourself: changing HVAC filters; greasing bearings in pumps and fans; changing belts; and checking damper linkages on a regular schedule. If you don’t have time to do it yourself, set up a regular scheduled maintenance plan with a good commercial HVAC service provider.

OK Chiller’s planned chiller maintenance program is custom-tailored to your specific equipment and budget. Services for industrial chillers span all systems: the chiller starter and control panel, operating and safety controls, system lubrication, refrigeration system leak testing and repair, the purge system, condenser and evaporator water side service, and performing test runs. At the end of the maintenance service, we provide a detailed written report and discuss what we found, along with recommendations.

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