Air Cooled Chiller Maintenance

Air Cooled Chiller Maintenance

March 28, 2016

If your facility’s HVAC system relies on an air cooled chiller, early spring is an ideal time to review the most important points related to maintenance. Over the course of what is projected to be another very warm spring and summer, a chiller with insufficient maintenance can create serious problems for the entire system, ranging from unnecessary high energy costs to complete breakdowns that bring processes or business hours to a halt. Here are some of the top factors that require your attention in order to achieve maximum efficiency and reliability from your air cooled chiller throughout the warmer months.


There are many different kinds of contaminants that can make their way into the water that runs through an HVAC or other cooling system. Some of them, like algae and other biological pollutants, block water passages, restrict flow, reduce efficiency, and generally force the entire system to work harder to do its job. More importantly, mold and mildew pose a serious health threat to humans that work, shop, and otherwise act in close proximity to the contaminated system on a daily basis.

Other types of contaminants, like mineral scale and corrosive elements, damage the metal components of the air cooled chiller, its pipes, and the rest of the cooling system. Keeping the water supply clear of these scales and deposits adds years to the potential life of service of these vulnerable components. Chiller manufacturers advise testing water quality and cleaning, if necessary, once every few months.


Two main problems can occur in relation to an air cooled chiller’s refrigerant. First, it can leak out of the unit if parts are old, corroded, or improperly sealed. Apart from the obvious threats to the environment and public health caused by escaping refrigerant, this problem dramatically reduces the effectiveness of the entire cooling system.

Even if refrigerant does not leak out of the chiller, it can become contaminated just as the water supply can. Some of the general contaminants are the same—sand, dust, etc. However, oil used in other parts of the air cooled chiller can also make its way into the refrigerant supply. The effect of this contamination is a serious reduction in efficiency, and experts report that it is a very common problem, particularly with older chillers that are not sealed as well as newer models. Check your refrigerant charge level and purity at least once every year.


The predominant method for keeping track of water quality, refrigerant quality, and the many other minor factors that can reduce the performance of your facility’s air cooled chiller is a daily log. With constant monitoring of efficiency, changes in airflow and water flow, and other important data, you can spot small problems before they become major issues. Implement this basic procedure if your facility does not already do so, and use the log to its full potential.


All of the preceding maintenance guidelines beg the question: is your HVAC system’s air cooled chiller capable of functioning reliably over a full season? Previous years of poor maintenance may have weakened the system to the point that it is a mistake to depend on it for one more period of heavy use. Replacing such a unit at the beginning of the season is far preferable to scrambling to find a unit within a few days during the hottest part of the summer.

The high cost of a new air cooled chiller may have you assuming that you have no choice but to hope that your current unit survives the summer. Fortunately, LEL International features a large inventory of used air cooled chillers, one of which could be the perfect replacement for your plant, hospital, or school’s outdated model. Our experts will handle the entire process of removing your old chiller, disposing of refrigerant safely and legally, and guiding you in choosing a used chiller that fits your facility’s needs. Clients are routinely surprised by the level of savings they can achieve by purchasing a used unit instead of a new one; discounts of up to 80% compared with new models are common. Contact us today to tell us about your industrial equipment needs.

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