September 2019 - B.I.M.S. Air Conditioning, Heating, Ventilation, Refrigeration, Dallas, TX

Monthly Archives: September 2019

Keeping It Cool: Taking a Look into the Importance of Routine Chiller Maintenance

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.

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 keep your refrigeration equipment, including chillers, energy-efficient. 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 of chiller 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.

Refrigerant Overcharge

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.

Unsure if your commercial chiller needs repairs or a replacement? Then please don't hesitate to give us a call! We can help you figure out the best course of action to take for your faulty equipment.

Repair or Replace Commercial Chiller

Repair or Replace: How to Decide Whether to Fix or Swap out Your Commercial Chiller

Repair or Replace Commercial Chiller

Restaurants, stores, laboratories, and many other businesses rely on commercial refrigeration to keep food and other things at the right temperature.

What do you do when your chiller is no longer working properly? There are two options: repair it or replace it. In some cases, it can be difficult to know which option is best. After all, there are several factors to consider.

Keep reading to learn some of the signs it may be time to replace your chiller and some indications that calling a repair company would be best.

When to Repair a Chiller

Let's first look at three situations in which you will want to repair your refrigeration system rather than replace it. In most cases, this can help you save time and money.

Issue is Maintenance-Related

Sometimes, a chiller isn't working because it hasn't been well-maintained. Parts may have become dirty which has caused them to wear out faster. Often, cleaning or replacing these parts will resolve the problem.

If this is the issue, then you should also create a maintenance schedule to ensure it doesn't happen again. This will greatly prolong the life of your current chiller and prevent needing to replace it before the end of it's expected life.

Unfortunately, in some cases, it may end up being more cost-effective to replace a unit that's been damaged by improper use. If this is the case, it's even more important to be ready to properly maintain your new unit.

Repair Costs Less

Obviously, if a repair is going to cost significantly less than replacing a chiller, it makes sense to do so. However, you also have to think about the remaining life of your current chiller when weighing the costs.

For example, if your refrigeration unit is already over 20 years old and has an expected lifespan of about 25 years, you can only safely hope to have it for another 5 years.

In this case, if the cost of the repair is over half of what it would cost to replace it, you may want to go ahead and get a new unit since you'll have to do it within a few years anyway.

Time is Critical

There is one glaring exception to the above guideline, and that is when time is a factor. It can take quite a bit of time to replace a chiller between removing the old unit and installing a new one.

For this reason, if you can't wait weeks for a new refrigeration unit, you may need to pay a high repair bill. Once again, you'll have to calculate your potential losses during the wait time.

An example would be a restaurant that only has one chiller. If it had to wait to replace it, it could lose thousands of dollars of stored food plus thousands more in lost business if it has to close its doors while waiting.

In this case, time is critical and it may make more sense to repair an older unit as long as the repair will take a day or two compared to the weeks it may take to bring in a new one.

For this reason, we recommend replacing your unit before it reaches this point so you can limit the impact it will have on your business.

When to Replace a Chiller

Now let's look at three situations in which you may want to replace a refrigerator rather than have it repaired.

Old Unit

The first thing you need to consider is the age of your unit and how much life it may have in it.

Check your manufacturer's information to see how long your particular unit is supposed to last. If your unit has less than 10% of their lifespan left, it may make more sense to go ahead and replace it now.

When dealing with older units, there are only so many repairs that you can make before they will need to be replaced. In most cases, it makes more sense to replace an old unit rather than keep waiting for another problem to pop up.

Replacement is Cheaper

Particularly when dealing with aging units, it may be cheaper to replace it than to repair it. As previously mentioned, consider the amount of time you have left on your unit and whether or not it would be worth replacing.

To calculate this cost, divide the cost of the repair by the number of years left on the unit. Then, divide the cost of a new unit by the number of years it's expected to last.

By doing this, you'll be able to see how much you will be spending per year keeping your old unit alive compared to having a new unit installed. You will inevitably have to purchase a new unit sooner or later, so see if it makes financial sense to do that now rather than waiting.

Keep in mind this is a rough estimate since it doesn't factor in operational costs, maintenance, or possible future repairs. However, it should at least give you a rough idea to determine if you should replace or repair your chiller.

Higher-Efficiency Models Available

The last thing you want to consider is how energy efficient your current model is. If it's older, there may be newer models available that are far more energy-efficient.

Over the course of 23 years, an energy-efficient unit can save you around $55,000 compared to other units. You can also get certain business tax credits which can help your bottom line even more.

If you're looking for a way for your business to help the environment and cut operational costs, you may want to replace your older unit. This is especially true when facing an expensive repair near the end of its life.

Ready to Repair Your Refrigeration Unit?

Now you know when it may be a good time to repair or replace your chiller. As you can see, there are a few things to look for that will help you make this decision.

If you've decided that refrigerator repair is your best option, contact us today. Based in Dallas, we serve the greater Texas area so you can get quality service no matter where you are.

When Is It Time For Boiler Repair? These Are The Signs

Before there were boilers, people used stoves and furnaces to heat their homes and businesses. Sometimes they had to use multiple stoves to keep each room of the house warm.

In 1895, the steel coal furnace was manufactured and sold for the first time. Because there was no electrical power at this time, fans were not yet introduced into the heating system, so the furnace wasn't very effective at transporting the heat.

Today, central heating systems grace homes, businesses, and commercial spaces all over the world. The boiler is the most integral piece of a central heating system, which is why boiler repair should never be avoided.

There are telltale signs that your boiler needs a check-up. Keep reading to find out when it's time for yours to be repaired.

What Does a Boiler Do?

Before we discuss the indicators that your boiler might need replacement or repair, let's go over what it does.

The boiler is essentially a water heater. It has a steady flow of natural gas, which is used to heat up the water.

When you turn on the heat in your home or business, your boiler gets to work by heating up water and then proceeding to funnel it through the pipes to different parts in your home or business.

Without a functioning boiler, your central heating system, whether it's used for heating only or for business process, will not function correctly, which is why it's so important to stay up to date on your boiler maintenance.

Here are some signs to look for!

Water Leaks

Water leaks make it obvious that something needs to be fixed. However, it can be hard to pinpoint where the problem is coming from.

Water leaks may just indicate that a pipe in your boiler is loose. However, it can also indicate faulty internal components. A pump seal or a pressure valve may need replacement.

To avoid mold infestations, property damage, and other expensive fixes, if you notice a leak, don't wait to call a professional.

Strange Sounds

Depending on how old they are and their design, boilers do make sounds from time to time while they run and also during startup and shutdown. 

If your boiler makes sounds regularly, you're probably so used to it that you don't even notice. If you hear a sound that is different from what you're used to, get someone to investigate it pronto.

If you hear a whistling noise, it may be that there is a buildup of minerals on the heat exchanger. Clunking, gurgling, and whooshing noises are also indicators that something is wrong.

Unusual Smells

If you notice any strange or unpleasant smells around or near your boiler, it's a sure sign that something is wrong.

Sulfur-like smells might mean that the gas is leaking from somewhere within the system.

A burning metal or plastic smell may indicate that certain elements or circuits are overheating.

A burning fabric or dust smell is common when your boiler is initially activated each season. But if it persists for more than a day, you should get it checked.

For any new or strange smells, it's best to call a technician rather than run into a dangerous situation or having to fork out much more money for a bigger repair or replacement.

No Hot Water or Heat

This is probably the most obvious sign that something is up with your boiler. If you aren't getting any heat or hot water throughout your business, there may be a faulty part that needs replacing. That can be hard to determine though, as it could be anything from a thermostat to a valve to a diaphragm to an airlock.

It's best to call a technician so that you get your repair done fast and with the least amount of damage. 

Your Water Isn't as Hot

This one goes hand in hand with not having any heat or hot water at all. They're both obvious. There may be a broken dip tube or sediment that's blocking the heating unit.

If your unit is older, it's possible that it's failing and the entire thing needs to be replaced.

Your Boiler Turns Itself Off

If a boiler is turning itself off, chances are it's protecting itself from melting certain components or overheating.

Most boilers, especially newer ones, have a built-in temperature sensor circuit that will trigger a shut down before things get dangerous.

If it's overheating, there may be low water pressure, a thermostat issue, a closed valve, air in the entire system, a faulty heat exchanger, or a faulty pump.

It's essential that if your boiler is turning itself off, that you call a well-trained professional as soon as possible. 

Your Energy Bills Are Higher

Business owners can catch boiler problems early by keeping tabs on their energy bills.

If you notice a sudden or unexplained rise in your bill, or if you notice that it's steadily increasing, your boiler probably needs maintenance.

Of course, it's common for your bill to increase during the first cold months, but keep an eye on it regardless.

The Sooner You Call for a Boiler Repair, the Better

Boilers are expensive to replace. However, they're also essential, especially for critical business process operations and cold winter months.

While most boilers have a self-shutoff system, boilers can still be dangerous if they are left too long without boiler repair.

If you notice anything different, call a professional immediately. Nothing would be worse than having to temporarily shut down your business, which would cause a much bigger loss.

Are you curious to know what kind of jobs we've done before you give us a call? Take a look at some of our work and feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.