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How to ensure a leak-free air cooled industrial chiller

March 17, 2014

An air cooled industrial chiller is one of the most vital cooling and heating equipment in any industry. However, the chiller is rendered to be useless if a leak of any form has developed within the unit. In order to make sure that a unit remains free of any leak, it is recommended by chiller technicians that regular tests are done on its compressors.

Low-pressure type chillers that use either CFC-11 or HCFC-123 have a few sections in the refrigeration system that operates at below atmospheric pressure.

Hence, even if chillers are considered to be some of the most-commonly engineered and manufactured equipment, it can be difficult for chiller manufacturers to come up with a perfectly sealed unit. Unfortunately, any leak that develops will allow unwanted air and moisture, called non-condensable, to seep into the unit.

Leaks reduce the efficiency of chiller

Once these non-condensable materials have seeped into the air cooled chiller, they are trapped within the condenser unit. Consequently, it increases the condensing pressure and compressing power requirements. In other words, it decreases the efficiency and cooling capacity levels of the chiller machine.

It is but fortunate that most low-pressure chiller types possess highly-efficient and powerful purge units that remove unwanted moisture and air in order to maintain condensing pressure. This means that they are able to maintain and promote efficient operation, even after many years of use. It has been estimated that a leak can cause at least 1 psi of air trapped within a condenser, which is equal to about 3% loss in the overall efficiency of the air-cooled chiller.

Leaks lead to corrosion and damage to chiller components

Moisture in chillers can be a cause of acid build-up, as well as corrosion in winding and bearing. Consequently, rusts develop inside the shell. Tiny rust particles known as fines float within the chiller vessels and become trapped in the heat-exchange tubes. Fines work on decreasing the heat-transfer effectiveness of the unit, while adversely affecting its overall efficiency. Fines must be eliminated upon detection; otherwise, they can lead in expensive repair of the tubes.

Leaks can result in an unusually low refrigerant charge and other issues such as low evaporator pressure. Such problems cause the chiller compressor to work much harder while only being able to produce low quality cooling. When it comes to positive-pressure industrial chillers, HVAC technicians must check the refrigerant charge levels as well as evaporator pressure in order to determine the presence of leaks.

How to check leaks in chiller

An effective means of monitoring any leak in an air cooled industrial chiller is by tracking the amount of moisture that has accumulated within the purge unit. If the figure is discovered to be high, the chiller has leaks. Other indications that air is present in the chiller unit are the increase in head pressure as well as condensing temperature. If an owner is sure that his chiller has leaks, it is a must that he obtains the services of an HVAC expert who can deliver the necessary repair service for the unit.

air cooled industrial chiller

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