Like any critical piece of equipment in a commercial facility, chillers require regular maintenance to maintain efficient and effective operation. A poorly maintained chiller can add 10% or more to the cost of running the system, which is likely already one of the largest consumers of power in your facility.
Whether you use a traditional scheduled maintenance program or modern technology to monitor your chillers for on-demand maintenance needs, regular chiller maintenance makes sense from a performance and cost perspective. Here are nine tips you can use to enhance your chiller's regular maintenance and keep this vital piece of commercial equipment in the best and most economical condition.
Keep a daily log: A daily log of chiller operation will create a historical record that will give you an idea of equipment operating trends that may affect chiller maintenance needs. Record information such as operating temperature, liquid level, flow rate and operating temperature. Consistent record keeping will allow you to track and identify abnormal conditions, which will help you identify components that need repair or replacement. If you use a remote monitoring system, you will be able to continuously check the chiller plant, providing better information on how the chiller is operating.
Reduce the temperature of the incoming water: By reducing the temperature of the water entering the chiller, the equipment will be able to operate more efficiently. If the water entering the system is already cold, less energy will be required to bring the water back to normal operating temperature.
Adjust the chilled water flow rate: Keep the incoming water flow rate at 3 to 12 feet per second. Too low a flow rate can reduce equipment efficiency, while too high a flow rate can have potentially damaging effects, such as vibration and pipe wear, as well as increased noise.
Clean condenser piping regularly: Mineral, scale, dirt and algae buildup can severely reduce heat transfer in the system piping. Effective chiller maintenance should include a regular duct cleaning program to remove these substances. Clean the piping at least once a year, or when your normal chiller maintenance schedule calls for it.
Box Type Water Cooled Scroll Chiller
Add water treatment chemicals to condenser water: Proper water treatment helps prevent corrosion, algae growth and scale buildup in the condenser. Check chilled water circuits and piping for signs of these problems at least once a year. If you find them, increase water treatment and overall chiller maintenance.
Monitor and maintain refrigerant charge: Refrigerant is the substance responsible for heat transfer and release within the chiller. Chillers require manufacturer specified amounts of refrigerant to operate properly and to prevent damage to the compressor. The refrigerant level should be checked periodically and more refrigerant should be added when the level becomes low. If the level is low, check for leaks or problems that could cause the unit to lose refrigerant.
Prevent the introduction of non-condensables: Non-condensables such as moisture and air sometimes leak into low pressure chillers. Use purging devices or other appropriate chiller maintenance equipment and techniques to remove these non-condensables and improve chiller efficiency and performance.
Periodically analyze compressor oil: The condition of the compressor oil can reveal problems with the compressor and its purification unit. At least once a year, send a compressor oil sample to a qualified laboratory for spectroscopic analysis. This chemical analysis will reveal problems that may be affecting the performance of the chiller, such as the presence of excessive moisture.
Install a variable speed drive in the chiller motor: Chiller motors consume a lot of power, especially at start-up. Variable speed drives improve energy consumption by matching load and motor efficiency. Variable speed drives also reduce the impact of mechanical shock and other factors that can reduce chiller efficiency and life.
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