Typically, a chiller is the single largest consumer of power and most expensive piece of equipment in a building, so it’s logical to allocate time and budget towards energy efficiency and equipment maintenance.
Without routine chiller maintenance, energy usage can double in just a few years and components can fail early, causing service interruptions. Poor maintenance procedures also lead to declining equipment reliability, the service life of a chiller can be reduced by 25% to 50%, according to an article in Facilitiesnet.com.
“While many managers look to chiller retrofits, system add-ons, or even replacements to improve efficiency, many overlook the single most important factor in determining both chiller efficiency and reliability: maintenance,” according to the article.
Chiller system efficiency is also a worthwhile investment because for every $1 facility managers invest in chiller maintenance, they can “expect a return of $10 dollars in the form of reduced operating costs and fewer breakdown maintenance repairs,” the article notes.
There are several chiller tube cleaning methods. One method is chemical cleaning, where a chemical solution – an acid, in some cases – is circulated through the chiller to clean the tubes.
An alternative method is a mechanical approach. Some manual chiller tube cleaning methods involve pushing a brush through each tube, then flushing afterward. However, the residue left after the brush is pushed through may dry on the surface before flushing, and the subsequent water flush will not remove it.
Another mechanical cleaning system rotates a cleaning brush or buffing tool attached to a motorized flexible shaft through the chiller tube while water-flushing the tube at the same time. The advantages of this system are that the tubes are given a thorough scouring and the simultaneous water flush allows the tubes to be completely cleaned before they dry.
By performing regular maintenance of chiller systems, facilities can decrease energy costs, extend operational efficiency, reduce power loads as well as save money on labor, equipment, and other associated costs.
A maintenance program for chillers also helps a facility with its sustainable goals by extending the life of the HVAC system and reducing energy consumption.
The best time to do regular chiller maintenance is in the winter or early spring when the chiller systems are not in use. To prevent the buildup of scale and sediment you must maintain the chiller tubes according to the manufacturer’s directions.