Facility Dude

The Fourth Day of Maintenance: Boilers and Chillers

By FacilityDude
Dec 06, 2013

Maintenance, Facilities Management

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Unless you want your building and equipment to roast like chestnuts over an open fire, it's important that you keep both your boilers and chillers properly maintained. While there are obvious differences in the maintenance of each piece of equipment, there are some significant similarities in ensuring the best functioning equipment possible.

Avoiding explosions

Probably the worst-case scenario when it comes to a failed boiler is an explosion. The most common cause for boiler failure is low water levels. This often happens as a result of a series of automatic-control failures, according to FacilitiesNet. First, the automatic feed device that maintains water level fails, then the fuel cutout, followed by the safety pop valve that relieves pressure buildup. The failure of these automatic controls can occur over time due to general wear and tear of mechanical components.

Additionally, corrosion is a common cause for the failure of unit heaters. This is usually the result of a number of internal conditions that technicians should be tracking throughout the year. Corrosion can be avoided or minimized through regular cleanings and inspections of the heater.

Keep it cool

Chillers are essential in maintaining the temperatures of heated equipment as well as buildings. Should your chilling system fail, other mechanical components to your facility could overheat and become damaged. The fact that they are one of the largest consumers of energy - and money - in facilities should be more than enough motivation to keep chillers well maintained.

When it comes to chillers, cooling towers are the key component. If the cooling tower is operating efficiently, chances are the chiller is too, according to FacilitiesNet. Even an increase of a single degree Fahrenheit in condenser-water supply could mean a significant decrease in chiller efficiency. Cooling towers can become clogged with outdoor debris, such as dirt and leaves, drastically affecting their efficiency. You should make sure to keep an eye on them, even if it means having to journey to a freezing roof to maintain them.

Routine maintenance is key

Man reading blue prints In either case, the common problem with boilers and chillers is infrequent maintenance. Boilers come with automatic controls, which often make people feel as if the machines could run themselves. Cooling towers, on the other end of the spectrum, are located in inconvenient areas, and are often forgotten.

Properly keeping track of facility maintenance can avoid most of the day-to-day problems associated with boilers and chillers. In addition to daily routine checks, you should be implementing weekly and monthly inspections and cleanings. MaintenanceEdge can assist you in tracking these inspections and cleanings, as well as any overarching problems that only reveal themselves over a longer period of time.

Get the gift of new equipment

At some point, boilers and chillers are going to fail simply due to old age. The wear of time will have become too great and you will need to replace your equipment. With either component, it's important that you shop around for the most energy efficient equipment, instead of buying a duplicate replacement. Also, take the time to make sure that your equipment isn't oversized, which can result in a decrease in efficiency. Now is a great time to give yourself the gift of proper equipment.

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