6 Tips for Commercial Chiller Maintenance

The cost of running and maintaining a commercial or industrial chiller is a major expense. In fact, chances are your chiller was the most expensive piece of equipment in your kitchen or warehouse. The chiller is constantly running and even a small leak or poor maintenance could mean your costs to run it are increased by 10%.

Improper maintenance is not only costly in the long run but with a few preventative steps, you may be able to uncover issues before they become serious and cause the system to fail.

Keep the heat transfer tubes clean

The heat transfer tubes in your condenser are always moist and contaminants such as minerals, scale, mud, algae, and other contaminants can build up and create thermal resistance. Dirty heat transfer tubes are the number one reason why the chiller isn’t cooling as it should. Condenser tubes must be brush cleaned at least once a year, or according to the maintenance schedule for your individual unit to keep it free of contaminants and working efficiently.


Treat condenser water to stop corrosion

Just like pool water needs to be treated to stop biological growth, so must the water that is used by your condenser if your chiller uses an open cooling source. The condenser tubes should also be cleaned and inspected yearly for general water quality or any evidence of corrosion.


Keep an adequate refrigerant charge

The amount of cooling a chiller provides is determined by how much refrigerant moves through the compressor. Refrigerant leaks and any air or moisture introduced into the system will affect the efficiency and reliability of the system. If the compressor is working harder to produce a diminished cooling effect, it costs more to run the entire system and increases the likelihood of it needing repairs or even replacement.


Inspect starters and motors

The chiller has plenty of moving parts that need to be inspected regularly for damage. The first step is to look at the safety and sensor calibrations on the microprocessor controls. Then look at all electrical connections, wiring, and switchgear for hot spots and worn contacts. These points are where the system has the most faults and the sooner you find and remedy them, the lower your chances are of the system failing down the road.


Analyze compressor oil

The compressor contains oil to lubricate all moving parts and it should have a chemical analysis once a year to detect any moisture or contaminants. This system is hermetically sealed and the oil isn’t in direct danger of contamination but should be replaced if the analysis says so.


Keep an operation log

A daily record of how your chiller operates allows you to build a history of operating conditions that can be used to create trend reports and identify maintenance needs. This log should record temperatures, pressures, fluid levels, and flow rates. Some systems feature a remote monitoring system that gives a continuous measure of these metrics.


Protect your investment and keep your industrial or commercial chiller unit working efficiently and properly. SAM Mechanical has worked with units like these for years and we have the knowledge and experience to see problems before they become costly repairs. Call us today for a free consultation.