Good Maintenance Includes Written Procedures and Records

Executive summary

The loss of two new compressors at a community college can help teach an important lesson. Don’t forget to check the entire system when replacing individual pieces of equipment, and keep written maintenance records to make the task easier. A lack of regular maintenance could spell even bigger trouble ahead.

The full article

Good Maintenance Includes Written Procedures and Records

Keeping Cool

The semi-hermetic, 50-ton reciprocating compressors were part of a 200-ton chill water system for the campus auditorium. During the cooler months, two of the compressors operated alternating use between the four units; in the summer months, all four compressors were needed to cool the facility.

A Pinhole Leak

The four compressors had been installed for about six months when the two failed just prior to the winter heating season. Damage to the compressors — including broken rods, broken and scored pistons, broken rings, etc. — indicated water or moisture intrusion into the Freon system. Further investigation revealed that a small pinhole in one of the evaporator tubes for the chill water system had allowed water into the Freon system.

Lessons Learned

The pinhole was the result of corrosion, most likely from the lack of water treatment for the chill water system. Although the compressors were new, the rest of the system was more than 20 years old with no previous maintenance record. A further review showed there were no written maintenance procedures and no training records for any of the maintenance personnel. Without written records, an organization cannot keep track of required maintenance and staff may not understand what needs to be done.
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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