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Contributed by Goodway Technologies

As we head into the cooler months, Goodway Technologies is reminding facility managers of the importance of properly cleaning and maintaining chiller systems. The practice is even more important this year, as some facilities may have seen periodic shutdowns or closures over the past year and a half.

Why is chiller maintenance important?

Chiller tubes are susceptible to the buildup of scale and other sediments and residue. If your chiller has to work harder to reach the desired output, it will require more power and increase energy costs. 

While it can be easy to defer maintenance for a variety of reasons, whether it be labor, budget or other priorities, there are costs associated with skipping maintenance.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 35 percent of a building’s total energy use comes from its HVAC system. This means any inefficiencies can have a big impact on the bottom line. Chiller tubes are susceptible to the buildup of scale and other sediments and residue. If your chiller has to work harder to reach the desired output, it will require more power and increase energy costs.

What steps can you take to improve your chiller maintenance?

A chiller maintenance plan or checklist is an ideal way to proactively stay on track and ensure your equipment is operating efficiently. Goodway Technologies is sharing these best practices to help improve chiller performance.

• Step 1: Maintain a Daily Operating Log – The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) recommends updating the log four times a day to monitor key operating parameters that will help indicate if any problems are developing. If four times a day is unfeasible, a minimum of once a day is suggested. This data will help raise any red flags in the case something needs to be addressed.

• Step 2: Keep Tubes Clean – The presence of scale and fouling can greatly impact efficiency. Even the smallest amount of scale can add thousands of dollars in additional energy expenses. It is recommended to clean chiller tubes at least once a year, but regular monitoring can help identify when cleaning should take place. Pressure loss can also indicate tube corrosion. Goodway has a selection of chemical descaling solutions, mechanical tube cleaning solutions and expert consulting services to find the proper cleaning approach.

• Step 3: Ensure a Leak-Free Unit – In addition to scale, leaks can also be detrimental to the efficiency and operation of the system. It also means that hazardous refrigerants are released into the air. Keep refrigerant levels within the manufacturers’ recommendations. Refrigerant levels can be tracked by using an air-purge time, checking the refrigerant sight-glass for bubbles and using a gas analyzer to assess all the joints and connections.

• Step 4: Sustain Proper Water Treatment – A water treatment program can help maintain efficiencies between cleanings. It helps to reduce the buildup of contaminants on heat-transfer surfaces and slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Since every facility is different and may experience different types of scale, it is recommended to reach out to an expert for assistance in identifying the best approach and solution.

After developing a chiller maintenance program and outlining all the steps and action items, there is one final step to implementing a successful upkeep plan. The program will only work if all the necessary parties are informed of the process and have received training on the system. Share the information with everyone who is involved in facility management or comes in contact with the system. Regularly provide updates on the positive results and impact of the routine maintenance to show the benefits.

Does your chiller system have a cooling tower?

If your chiller system has a cooling tower, keep in mind that the cooling tower can have a big impact on efficiency and present potential health risks, too. Cooling towers that have not been cleaned can result in algae growth and flash evaporation that produces hard scale deposits or calcium fouling. This creates a perfect environment for harmful bacteria, such as Legionella. Add cooling tower cleaning to your maintenance list to help prevent equipment corrosions and breakdowns while increasing plant efficiency and safety.