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Chiller Maintenance Checklist – Protecting Your System

No matter the size of your business or production process, downtime can be incredibly disruptive, incurring large costs and even causing issues when trying to meet customer demand. Chiller and system maintenance is vital to mitigate the risk of downtime, extend the lifetime of your equipment and provide peace of mind that you are doing everything you can to keep your process running and downtime.

Our Chiller Maintenance Checklist below will:

  • Give you day to day basics for keeping things running smoothly
  • Inform you of best practice for chiller maintenance
  • Advise you on what to look for when checking your equipment’s refrigeration circuit if you are F-Gas certified
  • Allow you to have an educated conversation when selecting your planned preventative maintenance service provider

You must be F-Gas certified to work on temperature control equipment in any invasive way. We recommend that you check your partner is fully qualified, but there are some surface level things that you can do on a day to day basis in the interest of keeping things running.

For advice about your chiller maintenance or choosing an F-Gas qualified maintenance partner, call our technical team on 0800 774 7426.

How do you service a chiller?

Much like with your car, performing daily checks on your chiller can go a long way to preventing a breakdown. Performing checks that take less than two minutes each day could make a massive difference to your operation and enable you to prevent rather than fix.

Daily, you should be checking for any unusual sounds or vibrations, investigating if the cause for the sound is not immediately apparent. Visual checks should also be undertaken, looking for things like debris in the area surrounding the chiller, including loose components on the chiller, such as thermal insulation. Be sure to check for fluid leaks and excessive condensation, too.

If your chiller is displaying fault codes, it is time to call in an expert, don’t just settle for a stop gap measure to keep production running, doing so may void your warranty if performed without care, and will almost certainly cause heavy damage to your unit.

Don’t just delegate these checks to one person either, as the issues above can quickly develop into a serious fault, consider printing a daily log so that staff can see if the equipment has been checked daily, and train them to run the basic checks if it hasn’t already been done.

A deeper look. You will need to find the time to perform a slightly more thorough investigation of your equipment, preferably weekly, but monthly without fail. By planning this ahead of time, you will be able to fit it around your production process – remember, planned downtime is better than preventable downtime.

As necessary, you will need to remove the side panels of your unit to begin your checks. In addition to your daily routine, you will have to inspect for debris inside your equipment.

It’s important to isolate the unit for the electrical supply before continuing the checks

When the unit has been made safe, it is time to check the fixings and fastenings on the unit, ensuring they are all tightly secured, and tightening them if it’s necessary. Leakage should be next on your list, and you should check all the pipework to ensure that there is no fluid seeping or leaking from the equipment. If any is found, call an expert immediately. You should also safeguard against the possibility of leakage or condensation on your equipment by checking all the boxes and enclosures on your unit are sound – checking hinges, locks and screws are in place.

Your refrigeration circuit – Certified Engineers Only

Before undertaking work on the refrigeration circuit, the engineer should look through the logs you’ve been keeping since the date of your last check or commissioning. After taking note of the general surroundings of the unit, such as ambient temperature, the three main components of the circuit should be checked.

Chiller compressor

The compressor acts as the pump for the unit’s refrigerant around the system by using differences in pressure to move the liquid through the system. The key things to discuss with your engineer or check yourself are:

  • The suction temperature and pressure
  • The discharge temperature and pressure
  • Oil level and pressure
  • Current voltage and current levels – Only if safe to do so

Chiller evaporator

The next component to check is the evaporator, which has the function of taking the heat absorbed from your process or building. Depending on the type of chiller, either air cooled or water cooled, these checks will be slightly different. Again, the main points to cover are:

  • Fluid or Air Inlet temperature and pressure
  • Fluid or Air Outlet temperature and pressure
  • Refrigeration inlet and outlet temperature
  • Insulation Condition

Chiller condenser

The final of the three components that should be on your list is the condenser, which removes the heat transferred into the refrigerant by the compressor as described above. Again, as with the evaporator, there are two types of condenser, air cooled and water cooled, which will slightly alter your checks, which will include:

  • Air intake and exhaust temperature
  • Refrigeration inlet and outlet temperature
  • Fan motor currents, noise and vibration
  • Condenser coil condition

Chiller glycol dosing

There are a few things left to take into consideration, First, you need to be looking at your equipment’s glycol dosage. Glycol, or anti-freeze is important as it will prevent the fluid inside your system freezing as it handles temperatures below zero. If incorrectly managed, the water in your system will freeze, causing damage to your pipework and halting production whilst the issue is resolved. It’s important to note that you cannot use generic glycol, the glycol in your system needs to be inhibited, which means that it is manufactured specifically to not corrode your pipework. You can find more information about our glycol range and correct dosage here.

Chiller water treatment

Whilst on the subject of water treatment, water quality should not be neglected when looking at your chilled water system. Water quality is important as failure to manage it will cause your pipework to corrode which will inevitably lead to equipment failure. Whilst getting a water quality check is a legal requirement, many service providers will not action poor results, merely inform you of them.

Leak Testing

The refrigerant leak test is the most important aspect of any refrigeration circuit check. Firstly, you will need to check that you are happy for the equipment that your engineer intends to use to be used on your system. A leak test ensures that your circuit is hermetically sealed.

All refrigerants have global warming potential, therefore, if there is any disparity between the refrigerant levels in the system and the levels expected, it is vital that the source of the disparity be verified and fixed before the refrigerant is recharged.

The results and action points

Your action plan will depend on the outcome of your daily routine checks or the refrigeration circuit checks. This could include a water treatment program, glycol dosage adjustment or even performing a repair on your equipment.

For complete peace of mind and hassle-free production, ICS Cool Energy can provide fully comprehensive planned preventative maintenance programs which include:

  • Extended warranties
  • Leak tests – performed by F-Gas compliant Service Engineers
  • Chiller log book
  • Glycol check (%)
  • Discounts on labour & spares
  • 24/7 engineer availability
  • Prioritised calls
  • Direct access to our technical support desk

More information about F-Gas certification can be found here.

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