College Learns Lesson About Poor Equipment Maintenance

Executive summary

A community college reported a loss to two new semi-hermetic 50-ton reciprocating compressors, part of a 200-ton chiller for the campus auditorium. During the cooler months, two of the four compressors operated, alternating use between the four units. In the summer months, all four compressors were needed to completely cool the facility.

The full article

College Learns Lesson About Poor Equipment Maintenance

A Pinhole Leak Causes The Problem

The four compressors had been installed for about six months when the two units failed just prior to the winter heating season. Broken rods, broken and scored pistons, broken rings and other damages indicated water or moisture contamination of the FreonR system. Investigation revealed that a pinhole in one of the evaporator tubes allowed water into the system and caused the problem.

Lessons Learned

The pinhole was the result of corrosion, most likely from the lack of water treatment for the chiller. Although the compressors were new, the rest of the system was more than 20 years old with no record of previous maintenance. A further review of college maintenance practices showed that there were no written maintenance procedures and there were no training records for any of the maintenance personnel.
The key to avoiding costly air conditioning breakdowns is careful maintenance and effective protection. Unfortunately, this equipment doesn’t always get the attention it needs. Visit the article library at The Locomotive website ( for information to help you keep air conditioning and refrigeration equipment trouble-free. 
Disclaimer statement:

All recommendations are general guidelines and are not intended to be exhaustive or complete, nor are they designed to replace information or instructions from the manufacturer of your equipment. Contact your equipment service representative or manufacturer with specific questions.

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