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

Monthly Archives: September 2019

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

conducting routine chiller maintenance

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.

chiller maintenance during a shutdown

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

Commercial Boiler

Do you know how the boiler works to provide heating for your commercial building? You have to understand the basics of your boiler to know how to keep it in a good operating condition.

But what exactly is a commercial boiler?

A commercial boiler is a pressurized system that uses electricity or burns combustible fuel to heat water that’s used to provide heating for your commercial building.

Your commercial boiler must be efficient because the entire building depends on it. An efficient boiler keeps the building comfortable and safe without wasting energy. Be sure to take measures to ensure yours runs as efficient as possible.

Read on to learn about the basics of commercial boilers and some vital efficiency tips:

What Happens Inside the Boiler?

Inside the boiler, the electric coils or burners produce heat that’s transferred to the water. Depending on the type of your boiler, this process produces either hot water or steam. The steam or hot water is circulated through pipes throughout your boiler.

The steam or hot water enters radiators that distribute the heat providing the heating needed to ensure your building comfortable.

The Basic Components of Commercial Boilers

Like other types of HVAC equipment, commercial boilers comprise many different components. Some of the basic ones are highlighted below.

Burner 

This is the part that produces the heat needed to heat the water inside the boiler. Depending on your system, you can either use oil, natural gas or renewable energy.

Heat Exchanger

The heat exchanger is a key component that transfers the heat generated by the burner. The heat exchanger adopts the simple idea of boiling water in a kettle.

Combustion Chamber

This is a sector inside the boiler that burns fuel converting it to heat. This chamber hosts the burner and is particularly designed to offer a safe area for high-temperature combustion of fuel. The combustion chamber is made of copper, bundles of steel tubes or cast iron.

Exhaust Stack

These are a series of pipes that transport exhaust gases from the interior of your building to the outside. They must be keenly constructed to make sure that toxic gases are safely carried away from the inside of your building.

Controls

The system controls allow you to set internal pressure, water temperature, fuel supply mixtures, and ignition. They regulate the rate of fuel consumption, and how regularly the burner fires. The safety controls also ensure the internal pressure don’t get too high.

Factors to Consider Before Buying a Commercial Boiler

Do you want to install a new boiler in your new building or you just want to install a new boiler as a way of modernizing your building? Either way, there are things you need to consider before buying a boiler for your commercial building.

1. What’s the Boiler’s Fuel Source?

There are modern boilers that use renewable technologies such as solar thermal systems, air source, and biomass as a source of fuel. These boilers are more expensive to buy than those that use oil and gas as a source of fuel.

However, they are the best option considering they are environment-friendly and have low running costs.

2. Efficiency

Does the boiler meet the standards required by efficient condensing technology? You should buy a boiler that has more than a 95% efficiency. A commercial boiler’s efficiency is measured by how it converts the fuel to heat.

Choosing an efficient boiler is making a significant contribution to protecting the environment.

3. Weather Compensation

Weather compensation is a simple technology that uses outdoor sensors to harness the weather elements signals to adjust your indoor spaces temperatures.

Factors That Determine the Installation Cost of a Commercial Boiler

Apart from the cost of buying the boiler, you also need to take into consideration the installation cost. Do you know the installation cost could end up being more expensive than the cost of the boiler?

There are three things that determine the cost of a commercial boiler: the model, brand, and size. These three factors influence the cost of installation as well.

What’s the size of your commercial building? The size of your premises determines your budget for the purchase and installation of the commercial boiler.

The location of the boiler room will determine how much the technician will charge you. If your boiler is being installed in an accessible place, then you’re likely to pay less.

Efficiency Tips for Commercial Boilers

Do you know that a boiler is a volatile system carrying high-pressure steam or extremely hot water? You need to be very careful around the boiler. Ensure your boiler is working properly and all its safety control systems are working properly as well.

High-pressure steam or hot water leaks can cause serious damage or injuries. If not well maintained, a boiler can explode, which can also result in property damage or serious injury.

You need to invite a professional to conduct preventive maintenance within the recommended period. This maintenance not only ensures your system functions properly but also efficiently and safely. If you don’t have training in handling commercial boilers, you shouldn’t attempt to maintain it by yourself.

What are the specific preventive maintenance activities that will keep your boiler functioning efficiency? Here are some key efficiency tips:

1. Regular Cleanings

You need to clean the boiler to remove the debris inside it. If this debris are not removed, they will end up coating its tubes. This coating reduces the efficiency of heat transfer.

The more the residue builds up, the higher the chances of a system breakdown. This is why you need an HVAC professional to clean the boiler tubes.

2. Insulation

Do you know insulation is necessary? Valves, fittings or condensate pipes that aren’t insulated lose heat, reducing system efficiency and increasing costs.

3. Water Quality

What’s the quality of the water that’s inside your boiler? Is it contaminated with returned condensate, organic matter or dissolved materials? You need a professional to inspect the water quality of your boiler.

4. Boiler Blow-Down

When sodium, magnesium, chlorides, bicarbonates, and sulfates dissolve in the boiler water, they result in scale buildup. This buildup reduces the transfer of heat and the likelihood of boiler to breakdown.

5. Inspection Logs

Do you keep records of all your inspection logs? This will help you know when your boilers need an inspection.

Don’t Forget to Monitor How Your Boiler Runs Daily

To ensure reliable and efficient boiler operation, it’s advisable to keep a close eye on commercial boilers. A malfunctioning boiler can cause costly damages. Check under and around the boiler daily to ensure there are no water leaks.

Inspect the pressure and temperature readings to make sure they remain within the standard range.

Make sure your vent termination is free of debris, snow or ice. Listen carefully for abnormal noises and vibrations coming from the boiler.

Contact us today for an intensive inspection and preventative maintenance appointment.