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Tips from the Experts - Chillers

by Nancy Ryerson, Staff Writer | November 01, 2012
From the November 2012 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Unlike a lot of equipment found at hospitals, chillers aren’t in the middle of the action, so it may be easier to make them a preventive maintenance afterthought. However, hospitals do so at their own risk as a chiller failure can mean big problems. Bill Yovic, vice president of sales at Direct Medical; Larry Knight, director of operations at Altima Diagnostic Imaging Solutions; Mike Bonadies, service manager at Medical Coaches Inc.; and Geoff Pridham, technical support manager at General Air Products Inc. share their expertise to help you keep your cool and your chillers running.

  1. Don’t skip PM.
    A good rule of thumb is to perform PM for your chiller at the same time as your MRI or CT, or four times a year. After just one day without a chiller, scanning can no longer be performed, so stay on top of chiller maintenance to avoid costly downtime.

  2. Clean up outdoor chillers.
    If you have an outdoor chiller, clear bushes and other plants away from the equipment. In winter, do not allow snow to accumulate around the sides of the chiller or underneath the condenser coil, as snow can throw fans out of balance.

  3. Check water levels.
    Carefully monitor water in the chiller’s reservoir. Most chillers also require a glycol mixture to provide anti-freeze properties as well as lubricant and viscosity to the water flow. If the glycol mixture levels are not maintained properly, the water flow can become contaminated.

  4. Watch for proper install.
    One of the most common mistakes chiller installers make is using a material for piping that is prone to long-term corrosion or rust. Another common mistake takes place when installers make a connection from copper to galvanized pipe without providing dielectric isolation, which causes corrosion between the two dissimilar metals.

  5. Keep coils clear.
    Install strainers or filters. Look for filters that are easy to remove, such as those that attach to the outside of the chiller. Without a filter, the chiller water can become polluted with contaminants that restrict water flow. Without proper maintenance, algae can also grow inside a chiller.

  6. Look and listen.
    In between maintenance checks, watch for any abnormal sounds or behaviors from your chiller, and notify your maintenance department right away. Many times, these abnormal indications are not given consideration because there are no equipment system failures indicated by the operating system.

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