Preventative Maintenance Basics – Condenser and Evaporator Coils

With fall fast approaching it is a great time to remind everyone about the importance of commercial refrigeration routine maintenance. Maintaining your systems for optimal energy efficiency is great for the environment and for your pocketbook. Whether you do the maintenance yourself or have a preventative maintenance agreement with Carlson and Stewart Refrigeration, the importance of routine maintenance can never be overstated. Because many small refrigeration or HVAC systems aren’t much different than those we may see on our own home, an understanding of important routine maintenance objectives may have some helpful impacts at home as well.

An obvious place to start with any equipment inspection is the filters. First, power down your system in preparation for the various cleaning tasks that will follow, as some tasks are dangerous if performed on an energized system.  If your equipment has filters in the airstream, make sure they are dirt and debris free. Clean or replace air filters regularly and inspect them to make sure they are not plugged with dirt or debris. Also check that they are not becoming wet or growing mold, which may be a sign of other issues. Dirty filters increase electricity costs and depending on your work environment you may need to clean or replace filters more often.

The next task is just as easy. Look over the fins on both your evaporator (indoors) and condenser (outdoors). Make sure none of the fins are pushed in or laying flat, accidental impacts can easily knock fins down or tear them. Fins are important to help transfer heat, and damaged fins are less efficient and can block airflow.  If you notice some minor damage, it can often be reversed by using a commercially available fin comb and a little elbow grease. If you notice or accidentally cause heavy damage, such as damage that runs through the fins to the tube, inspect the area carefully to make sure there isn’t a refrigerant leak. If you suspect a small leak, hear a hissing sound, or notice poor performance, consider having Carson & Stewart Refrigeration make an inspection to verify proper system performance.

Clean and corrosion free fins and tubes are paramount in operating an efficient cooling system. Any routine maintenance program should include cleaning evaporator and condenser coils. Evaporator coils indoors can become clogged with dust and debris and may need routine cleaning and sanitization. Condensing coils outdoors are often far more susceptible to dirt and grime which can quickly cause high head pressures and the electricity hikes that go along with them. If using a hose to clean outdoor units, always double check that the unit is properly powered down. Mind carefully the water pressure and angle of the sprayer, as carelessness can easily bend delicate fins of the unit.

Lastly, give the unit a once over for anything that looks out of order. Is piping and piping insulation in good condition? Are water drain lines clean, sanitary, and draining to the proper area? Am I pleased with the performance of this equipment and do I think it will last another year? When the equipment was running, did it sound right? If any questions arise, or you’d like to have someone inspect your refrigeration equipment “under the hood” Carlson and Stewart Refrigeration is always there for you. Carlson and Stewart Refrigeration offers tailor made preventative maintenance plans that provide routine services such as those described above as well as under the hood inspections, discounts on repair of issues discovered, and most of all peace of mind.

Most refrigeration systems never get the luxury of shutting down for very long in the warm summer months, and still have to keep running all year. Make sure to have a solid preventative maintenance plan in place that will not only increase operational efficiency, but will limit surprise issues and preventable failures. By contrast, as air conditioning systems are getting closer to shutting off for the season, its also important to make sure we leave them in good condition before the winter months hit. Late season inspections on equipment and introspection on the equipment’s performance offer a great opportunity to make sure the equipment will meet all our needs next season. If repairs or replacements are required, the cool fall and winter months typically offer short equipment lead times and the fastest possible service. If you would like to setup a preventative maintenance plan, or just price one out for your facility, be sure to give Carlson & Stewart Refrigeration a call.

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