Chiller Breakdown

Blue recovery unit with a grey recovery cylinder during a chiller breakdown

Chiller Breakdown

A rainy day for a chiller breakdown for our engineer in the North West.

News Article No.8

Electrical Faults during Chiller Breakdown

Our customer called us out because he was having electrical faults with the chiller. The power supply to part of the panel had gone down and he required our assistance. Our engineer found a blown fuse which he replaced and tested operation- it blew again. Using his multimeter, he followed the diagnosis though to an earth fault on the flow switch…

Water System Flow Switches

The flow switch vapour seal had failed allowing rain water to ingress. This caused an earth failure on the 240v control circuit, and so blowing the fuse. The customer raised an order forthwith and so our engineer replaced the flow switch with the stock from his car. Each of our engineers keeps a range of flow switches for a variety of applications…

Stainless Steel

Where water system chemicals are corrosive, we carry corrosion resistant flow switches. This type has a longer working life due to the use of stainless steel. They are more expensive due to the higher manufacturing costs, but they are worth the money as they are less likely to fail, causing a potential loss of production.

Outside Use

This was the type fitted by our engineer on site in this news article. It has been developed and tested across a range of adverse weather conditions including freezing conditions and heavy rain. The electrical and switching compartment is protected by a sealing gland to keep the weather out. A rubber ‘o’ ring provides the seal into this compartment.

Inside Use

Some applications have the flow switch located inside the building in the plant room with the control cable extending out to the chiller controls. Another configuration allows for the flow switch to trip out the building controls and so dropping out the run signal to the chiller. In either case there is no need for weather proofing. This kind of flow switch is cheaper due to the lower construction costs.

High Pressure

Some water systems operate at considerable pressure. Therefore, high pressure flow switches have been developed for this application. They are capable of preventing water ingressing from the water system and into the electrical and switching compartment.

Test and Adjustment

Our engineer carried out testing and adjustments to the flow switch to ensure that it ran reliably. He achieved this by monitoring the water system readings and measurements against the design specifications of the switch. When he got it to settle down, he replaced the fuse and ran tested the chiller...

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Condenser Fans

The condenser fans were not coming on at all at first and later only slowly. They are controlled by a fan speed controller which is sensitive to pressure. A minimum value of volts is supplied to the fans, so as to prevent stalling and over heating of the internal motor windings. The fans were found to be in good working order, so he decided to turn his attention to…

Refrigerant Pressure Temperature Relationship

There was found to be a lower pressure and so a lower temperature in the condenser. After careful fault finding and diagnosis involving putting the pressures and temperatures into a calculator, our engineer decided that the chiller was running short of refrigerant. This is consistent with Charles’s Law of Constant Volume: one of the fundamental scientific principals of how a chiller works- the higher the pressure- the higher the temperature/ the lower the temperature- the lower the pressure.

Refrigerant Recovery Units

After receiving a further order from our customer, we gave the go ahead to our engineer to use his refrigerant recovery unit to decant the gas. The refrigerant is sucked into the unit using a small one cylinder reciprocating compressor. The compressor discharges into the on board condenser which is cooled by a fan. The subcooled refrigerant travels down a refrigerant hose which is connected to the recovery cylinder in the picture. After this process was complete, he started looking for a leak...

Leak Testing and Pressure Testing

The leak was identified on the flange for the expansion valve. This component was removed, cleaned with our in house refrigerant grade solvent, then the joint re made with a compound suitable for the temperature range of the component. After a satisfactory nitrogen pressure test, the evacuation process can begin…

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Refrigerant System Vacuum Pumps

Each of our engineers carry a high capacity vacuum pump of the highest quality. We believe in investing in state of the art equipment as this is part of how we provide the MAXIMUS ADVANTAGE™ Any Chiller- Any Problem- Any Part- Any Refrigerant- Anywhere. Good equipment makes the job go easy.

Vane Pump

The pump works by sucking vapour into the inlet port. A rotary vane system extracts the vapour and discharges it through the top of the pump module. Oil is used to lubricate the vanes that slide around the pump cylinder. The vanes are kept a tight fit against the cylinder with the use of springs. As our pumps are high capacity, an oil filter is fitted to the outlet with a gauze inside to catch any oil droplets.

Electric Motor

This motor fits onto the back of the vane pump module. It comes from the factory set to 240v, but we change the pins for the electrical connections to convert it for use with 110v. This is because customers and engineers demand the use of 110v as if is safer for use in the UK climate. The 110v plugs and extension cable are shrouded and weather resistant. Weather resistant does not mean weatherproof, so we take measures to limit the exposure to adverse weather conditions. The pump motor, however, is not weather resistant at all, so care is taken to locate it somewhere dry. After a long time running, the motor runs hot, so our engineers take readings and carry out adjustments to ensure that it stays within its nominal operating temperature range.

Oil Changes during Chiller Breakdown

The vac pump oil is changed before each use with our specialist grade, high quality oil. Contact our office for prices and delivery times. The manufacturer of the pump recommends these oil changes as moisture and impurities absorb into the oil and so reduce its performance, also the working like of the pump.

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Refrigerant System Evacuation Process

Having set up the vacuum pump, our engineer started the evacuation process.

Torr Gauges used During Chiller Breakdown

We use analogue Torr gauges as they are more reliable than digital ones. Also, they do not need batteries and it does not matter if they get wet. He attached the Torr gauge to a suitable part of the system with a refrigerant hose, ensuring that a good seal was made between the components with a sealing compound.

Fittings used during Chiller Breakdown

Fittings were used to get between the different thread types from the vac pump to the fridge system. Having warmed up the pump for half an hour he was ready to start the process.

Non Condensables Removed during Chiller Breakdown

One purpose of evacuation is to remove the gasses that will not condense such as nitrogen remaining in the system from pressure testing. Another non condensable is air that has entered the system from when the expansion valve was removed. These non condensables affect how a fridge system works according to Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressures: that all gasses in a vessel act as if they are on their own. The non condensables cause a higher head pressure and false readings: when this pressure is added into our calculation- it throws out the sum and so gives a false reading of subcooling.

Dehydration during Chiller Breakdown

The other purpose of evacuation is to dehydrate the system. Water, as we know, has a boiling point of 100°c at sea level, which is 1bar absolute or 760 Torr. As you start to drop the pressure, so correspondingly, the boiling point also drops. For example, water boils at the top of Mount Everest at around 68°c. If we continue vacuuming a refrigerant system, eventually we can remove all moisture by dropping the pressure below the saturation point of water. This works even in the winter in UK ambient conditions. Moisture in the system causes system failures and malfunctions leading to expensive breakdowns.

To read more about flow switches hit the Tag at the top of the page.

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Read more about rotary vane pumps at Wikipedia | Click Here


Global chilled water system service near Saint Basil's Cathedral

Global Chilled Water System Service

Moscow Visit

Always good for our engineers to get out of the country to carry out global chilled water system service. He just had a little free time this visit to see Red Square and Saint Basil's Cathedral. Most of the visit was bogged down resolving issues.

Electrical Problems

One of the chillers was pumping down due to electrical problems. One of the solenoids for the evaporator was not opening. All checked out okay with the solenoid coil and valve. Following the wiring diagram lead to the relay board. The relay board is responsible to run various components around the compressor. It was not obviously blown and there were no dry soldered joints on the back. Our engineer decided to tighten up the wiring and unplug, then plug all the connectors back in. When he ran the chiller again the problem went away.

Chilled Water System Global Service

As we provide a global service: we cannot get back the day after leaving site. Therefore, after resolving the above issue, our engineer ran the system in local with some of the other systems off to prove it. All was okay. After completing the rest of the service on the chillers, he put the whole of the plant back in Auto to prove it all together.

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Flow Switch Failure During Global Chilled Water System Service

Due to security issues, this one of the most remote plant rooms for a flow switch to fail. The chiller did not stop when a test was carried out. Our engineer didn't want to valve off the water system as the air handlers are old and 'dead heading' could cause failure. Instead he decided to use the Hand/ Off/ Auto switch for the pump. After several attempts of trimming he got the switch to settle down, then carried out tests to make sure it would not happen again.

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Chilled water system maintenance showing flow switch at 0 reading

Chilled Water System Maintenance

Maintenance of the Chilled Water System Flow Switch

The chilled water system flow switch requires regular maintenance due to a to build up of contaminants on the sensor. Over time, slime accumulates giving false readings. The problem is relatively easy to sort out: a wipe with a cloth.

Retrieving the sensor

The more difficult part is retrieving the sensor. It is fixed with a bolt into the water system. Therefore, there is pressure inside the water system. This pressure is handled and the glycol drained into vessels.

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Checking the Fault Out Level

As you can see from the picture: there is a green light on 0. This indicates that the pump is off, not to be confused with pressure. With the pump on: the green lights go all the way up to 9 with the fault out level showing red on 7. Flickering between the numbers indicates that the flow rate is starting to drop off.

Maintaining the Chilled Water System Fault Out Level

Using a terminal driver and the manual that comes with the flow switch: the buttons can pressed a number of times to 'self test' Also, the fault out level can be set.

Testing the Flow Switch

The flow switch is manually tested using one of two methods. This ensures that the switch will function correctly when it needs to.

Maximus Chillers offers the whole package for the maintenance of your plant. With state of the art equipment and the best engineers- we complete the picture. Weather you have a small problem like the above mentioned flow switch, or a big problem like compressor failure- Maximus Chillers can help.

Any Chiller- Any Problem- Any Part- Any Refrigerant- Anywhere- The MAXIMUS ADVANTAGE™

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Read more about flow measurement on Wikipedia.


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