Chiller Maintenance: Taking a Look into the Importance of Keeping it Cool
In this article, we take a solid look at chiller maintenance and the importance of keeping it cool. First, let's take a look at current energy levels and how chiller maintenance relates to this.
In 2018, the U.S. commercial sector consumed a whopping 1.38 trillion kWh of electricity.
For reference, 7 billion kWh can power over 620,000 average-sized US homes for one year. Doing the math, 1.38 trillion kWh is enough to supply more than 122 million of these US homes for an entire year.
And you know what? Of that 1.38 trillion kWh, the EIA says 13.9% went toward the use of refrigeration systems alone. That makes refrigeration the biggest single user of electricity in this sector!
Ill-maintained chillers are among the main reasons for this massive electricity use. After all, lack of chiller maintenance can reduce equipment capacity and efficiency. This decrease then forces them to work harder, which then leads to increased energy use.
This alone already shows the importance of maintaining your chillers. But that's not the only reason for routine maintenance though.
Ready to learn what proper chiller upkeep and tune-ups can do for your business? Then keep reading as we've listed everything you need to know!
Routine Chiller Maintenance Allows for Continued Heat Transfer Efficiency
Your commercial chiller relies on heat transfer efficiency to carry out its job well. Heat transfer is the process of removing heat from the chiller and then disposing it outside of the unit. This applies to all the parts of the equipment, especially its refrigeration circuitry.
In short, a chiller's heat transfer efficiency refers to how well it removes heat from within. If it has poor heat transfer, then it can't chill anything to your preferred temperature. It may not even provide any cooling effect at all!
Contaminants in the condenser are some of the main reasons behind poor heat transfer. Minerals from hard water, scaling, algae, and debris can block the condenser tubes. Scale build-up on your chiller's components can also increase its thermal resistance.
When any of these things happen, your equipment's performance is sure to suffer.
Whether you're using your chiller coupled with computer room cooling or running a specific manufacturing process, you will require routine maintenance. With regular commercial chiller maintenance though, you can keep these issues from arising. At the very least, this includes clearing clogs in condenser tubes and brushing them at least once a year.
Regular Maintenance Keeps Your Chiller Energy Efficient
Optimal heat transfer efficiency is also key to energy-efficient equipment.
Since your chiller won't use more energy than necessary, it won't spike up your energy bills. In fact, experts found that optimizing refrigeration circuitry can boost efficiency by 5%.
An Energy-Efficient Chiller Produces Fewer Greenhouse Gases
Refrigeration systems are the biggest source of non-CO2 greenhouse gases. These include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and halons. But these systems also produce CO2, since most refrigeration units run on electricity.
This is why it's important to perform routine chiller maintenance, including all chillers, to maximize energy-efficiency. Their lower energy needs reduce the need for fossil fuels. By burning fewer fossil fuels, fewer greenhouse gases get produced.
It Prevents Your Chiller from Failing Early
Calcium and magnesium, which are most abundant in hard water, can cause scaling. Scaling can help reduce corrosion in chiller components, but it also reduces efficiency. Scale build-up forces the chiller to work harder while also shortening its lifespan.
Some minerals in water can cause corrosion in chiller components. Among the most corrosive to steel are chloride and sulfate.
You can prevent this damage through regular inspections and routine chiller maintenance of vital components. As soon as you see mineral deposits, clear them away with the use of descaling solutions. Replace corroded parts ASAP to prevent the corrosion from spreading.
It Helps You Keep Track of Your Chiller's Refrigerant Levels
The amount of refrigerant in your chiller dictates how much cooling it provides. The refrigerant is a chemical mix that absorbs and releases heat. It's the chemical that allows a chiller to provide a cooling effect in the first place.
Without refrigerants, no cooling will happen. Routine chiller maintenance allows you to discover possible refrigerant issues before they worsen. There are two main problems to be on the lookout for: overcharging and lack of refrigerant.
Too much refrigerant can lead to a process called "refrigerant carryover". This happens when the refrigerant evaporates as soon as it reaches the compressor.
This can then reduce your chiller's capacity and make your compressor work harder. As the compressor tries to compensate for the lack of refrigerant, it eats up more energy. Not only will this lead to higher energy bills; it may also damage the compressor impeller.
Refrigerant overcharge often results from human error. To avoid this, it's best to hire refrigeration system experts.
Lack of Refrigerant
A low refrigerant level causes pretty much the same effects. Since there's not enough of the substance reaching the compressor, then it has to work doubly hard. This results in ineffective cooling, higher power consumption, and possible compressor damages.
Most problems with low refrigerant levels happen because of leaks. Normal wear and tear can give rise to these leaks, meaning that the age of your chiller will also have an impact. But external factors and lack of maintenance can cause leaks to develop sooner.
For instance, the blades of an improperly-lubricated fan motor won't rotate smoothly. This creates excess movement, which can be enough to create gaps in the jointed parts of a chiller. These gaps can let refrigerant leak out of the system.
Corrosion can also cause holes and cracks in your chiller's components. When this damage develops, refrigerant can leak out.
Get the Most Out of Your Chiller with Proper Maintenance
There you have it, your ultimate guide on the importance of chiller maintenance. Preventive maintenance will help your commercial refrigeration systems maintain optimal performance. You can also discover potential issues earlier, giving you enough time to get them fixed.
Don’t give your chiller the cold shoulder. Attend to its maintenance needs regularly so that you can get the most use out of it.