The Importance of Preventative Chiller Maintenance

mining chiller installed on a site

Chiller systems are a crucial part of a range of industries. A properly sized and maintained chiller system will minimise downtime and keep energy bills under control.

However, chillers are complicated systems that require regular maintenance and inspection to ensure they are operating properly.

A lack of preventative maintenance can lead to a chiller system that is using excess energy, accumulating unnecessary damage, and in need of costly repairs. An improperly maintained chiller system can even and even put your workers in danger.

In this guide to preventative chiller maintenance, we’ll cover:

  • What is preventative chiller maintenance and servicing?
  • What are the benefits of preventative chiller maintenance?
  • What chiller issues can be spotted early?
  • How often does a chiller system need to be inspected?
  • Example checklist for chiller system maintenance

What Is Preventative Maintenance and Servicing?

Preventative chiller maintenance involves regularly monitoring your chiller system and keeping detailed maintenance logs. Professional chiller servicing involves a thorough inspection of the system to ensure it is running safely and efficiently. 

Whether you have a mining chiller, industrial chiller, or another chiller system, they all require careful maintenance and regular inspections.

Preventative maintenance and servicing involve tasks such as:

  • Managing refrigerant levels
  • Analysing oil and water quality
  • Inspecting fans
  • Cleaning and inspecting electrical components
  • Checking temperatures and pressure
  • Verifying correct water flow
  • Cleaning and lubricating system components
  • Identifying problems early and scheduling prompt assessment and repair

The Importance of Preventative Maintenance for Chilling Systems

Performing preventative maintenance tasks and getting regular inspections can help your chiller system last as long as possible, reduce downtime, and keep energy bills low.

Here’s a more in-depth look at 5 benefits of consistent chiller maintenance.

  1. Optimal Efficiency and Performance

    Dirty condenser coils, leaking refrigerant, and worn components can all put excessive strain on your chiller system. This can lead to unnecessary wear and tear, increased energy consumption, and higher operating costs.

    Cleaning your chiller system, being proactive about issues, and staying on top of maintenance all result in optimal efficiency.

    A well-maintained chiller will not use excess energy, will run safer, use fewer resources, and operate in peak condition.

    Here are tips to help promote optimal chiller system efficiency and performance, be sure to:

    • Following all manufacturer guidelines
    • Only use cleaning agents deemed suitable by the manufacturer
    • Follow the recommended cleaning measures as recommended by the manufacturer and your refrigerant technician
    • Consistently monitor the system’s temperature, pressure, and flow rate
    • Schedule regular inspections
    • Monitor heat efficiency
    • Keep detailed maintenance logs
  2. Maximised Lifespan

    Ignoring preventive maintenance and skipping professional inspections can lead to unnecessary wear and tear on your chiller system. Minor problems, such as a build up of minerals, can go unnoticed and quickly turn into major, costly problems.

    The longer small issues are ignored, the more damage that can occur to the chiller system. This can lead to excessive wear and tear that diminishes the lifespan of the system and leads to premature system failure.

    If you want to maximise your chiller system’s longevity, maintain a detailed maintenance log, keep up with maintenance tasks, and schedule regular inspections by a refrigeration technician.

  3. Maximum Safety and Reliability

    Preventive maintenance reduces the risk of equipment malfunction, accidents, and other safety hazards.

    Prioritising detailed maintenance logs, quickly identifying and resolving electrical issues and refrigerant leaks, and scheduling regular inspections create a safer environment for both workers and any visitors.

    A chiller system with well maintained components and proper temperatures, flows, and pressures is less likely to break down. Proper maintenance reduces the chance of unexpected breakdowns, minimises downtime, and maximises production.

  4. Environmental Benefits

    Energy-efficient chiller systems produce fewer emissions and greenhouse gasses. This supports a system that is more environmentally friendly and less reliant on fossil fuels.

    Performing routine chiller maintenance can protect your investment — and the environment.

  5. Prevent Scaling

    Water naturally contains minerals, such as sulfate, chloride, calcium, and magnesium. The buildup of these minerals can cause scaling that corrodes chiller components. This scale and corrosion can lead to early system failure if it goes unaddressed.

    Routine inspections can identify scaling and clear away mineral deposits before they can cause damage and corrosion.

chiller being repaired in warehouse

Chiller Issues That Can Be Spotted Early

It is important to be proactive when maintaining your chiller system. Spotting chiller issues as early as possible can prevent downtime and costly repairs.

For instance, imagine an operator, Bill, in charge of a chiller system that is suddenly consuming more energy and resulting in higher power bills. Bill performs chiller troubleshooting but cannot pinpoint the issue.

Bill calls in a professional refrigerant technician to evaluate the chiller system. It turns out too much refrigerant was being added. This causes the refrigerant to evaporate immediately upon reaching the compressor.

Along with forcing the chiller system to work harder and use more energy, the compressor was slowly getting damaged. The technician immediately spotted the issue and made the necessary repairs.

By addressing the refrigerant overcharge early, the technician prevented major damage to the chiller system and got the system running smoothly again.

Regular maintenance and servicing can help spot chiller issues like this early. Recognising and fixing chiller problems promptly can prevent excess wear and tear, prevent chiller failure, and reduce the risk of expensive repairs.

Here are some examples of chiller issues that can be caught early:

  • Refrigerant leaks
  • Lack of refrigerant
  • System inefficiencies
  • Refrigerant overcharge
  • Compressor problems
  • Condenser problems
  • Low pressure 
  • Buildup of minerals
  • Corrosion
  • Gauge failures
  • Sensor problems

How Often Does Chiller Servicing Need to Occur?

Preventive maintenance will help your commercial refrigeration systems maintain optimal performance, reduce downtime, and maximise the lifespan of the equipment. You can also discover potential issues earlier, giving you enough time to get them fixed.

We recommend servicing your chilling system at least twice a year, regardless of your industry. For chillers that are in continuous operation, not just used during the cooling season, we recommend quarterly professional maintenance. 

Our professional chiller maintenance services include:

  • Condition reporting
  • Chiller servicing
  • Oil and water sample analysis
  • Troubleshooting
  • Commissioning support
  • Inspection of fixings and fastenings
  • Corrosion inspection
  • Checking cooling and condenser coils
  • Condenser fan inspection
  • Checking all electrical components and wiring
  • Checking refrigerant levels
  • Personalised maintenance advise and one-on-one support in developing a preventative maintenance system

What Kind of Chiller Maintenance Checklist Should I Keep?

In between professional chiller servicing and inspections, we recommend keeping a detailed maintenance log.

Many chillers are now programmed to automatically record maintenance logs in the control system.

Your chiller maintenance checklist should record:

  • Condensation pressure and temperature
  • Operating conditions (flow rates, temperatures, fluid levels, pressures, etc.)
  • Evaporation pressure and temperature
  • Power supply parameters
  • Refrigerant levels
  • Suction temperature
  • Oil pressure and temperature
  • Oil humidity and acidity
  • Discharge temperature
  • Superheat and subcooling values
  • Water flow rate
  • Inlet and outlet water temperatures

Is Your Chiller Due for Professional Maintenance?

Proper maintenance and regular professional servicing are key components of an efficient, reliable chiller system.

If you want personalised help determining a preventative maintenance schedule for your chiller system or want to book a professional inspection, contact our experts at Thermal Engineering.