Poor Lighting, Sloppy Storage Result in Chiller Breakdown

Executive summary

Since air conditioning was extremely important to its business, a large department store had frequent scheduled maintenance performed on its equipment. A contractor spent a week completely tearing down the sole 450-ton centrifugal three-stage semi-hermetic chiller, checking tolerances, replacing bearings, oil, Freon®, and completing other required maintenance. Then the unit completely seized up just 45 minutes after restarting.

The full article

Poor Lighting, Sloppy Storage Result in Chiller Breakdown

Extensive Damage

Damages included cracked and chewed impellers, a warped cam, broken linkages, cracked rotor bars, spiraled windings and shattered bearings. In essence, the housing was the only part to remain unscathed. All internal parts had to be replaced and it took approximately six weeks to restore the chiller to full operation.

Lessons Learned

Laboratory analysis of the lubricant and FreonR from the chiller oddly revealed an extremely high detergent content. Searching for the origin of the detergent into the system, repair technicians found empty containers of industrial cleaner in the trash in the mechanical room. The container labels bore a close resemblance to the labels on the lubricating oil that was intended for the unit.

Read The Label

The lubricating oil containers were found stacked in an unopened box — under the containers of cleaner. Apparently, the technicians had mistakenly added the cleaner to the chiller, instead of the specified oil. The mechanical room, which contained the damaged unit, the oil and the cleaner, also had very poor lighting, making it difficult for the technicians to distinguish between the similar containers. The combination of dim lighting, improper storage and inadequate inspection of materials led to a breakdown that could have been prevented.
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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