4 tips to keep your medical chillers running

by Carol Ko, Staff Writer | November 01, 2013
From the November 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

When it comes to chillers, the biggest mistake you can make as a customer is sitting on your hands and waiting for your equipment to break. Avoiding easily preventable breakdowns through regular maintenance is key to ensuring you’re getting the most out of your machines.

Maintaining equipment is relatively inexpensive compared to the cost a hospital faces if the system goes down for a few days, resulting in lost patient revenue and potentially hefty repair costs — both to the chillers and to the equipment they cool.

Along with general common sense tips such as cleaning air and water filters, DOTmed News asked a few experts to give us a few insider’s tips on ways to make sure your chillers keep things cool for years to come.

Jerry Hoover, of HVAC Service Solutions, Inc., reports that he has a customer who jots down the glycol pressures and refrigerant gauges every Monday morning. “That way they know the normal operating pressures, and if anything has changed drastically, they’ll know to call out for service,” he says.

He also advises that customers with a cryogenic compressor have a backup water source handy in case their chillers go down. “That way you can switch the cryogen over to city water in case it’s going to be down for a couple of days,” he explains.

In general, chillers should receive biannual checks from service professionals, though other environmental factors such as harsh climates or high levels of pollutants and pollen may necessitate more frequent checks.

Kim Bernard, with Dimplex Thermal Solutions, says she occasionally encounters customers who try to operate chillers beyond the equipment’s life span. Fortunately, the lifespan is fairly long. “In general, a chiller should operate for more than ten years before cost of repairs or obsolete technology makes it economically advantageous to replace it,” she says.

Graham Whitmore, of Motivair, says the most common mistake he sees for chillers on MRIs and linear accelerators is improper venting in the chilled water piping, which hinders the chiller from working properly. The solution? “Install a manual or automatic air vent in the piping system to allow full and unrestricted water flow at start up,”
Whitmore advises.

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