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Most process chiller startup techs will use city water to fill the systems. For the most part, it’s cheap, accessible and the supply is pressurized so you can fill your system easily.
The downside you get elements from nature that, if not addressed, can cause damage to your chiller and piping systems.
This episode is part one of a two-part series covering process fluid issues that can lead to costly downtime.
In this episode, I will look at the formation of rust or chipping that can occur in a process chiller system.
I will explain the two most common ways rust is formed in process chiller systems, what to do about it and how to prevent it from coming back.
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The topic covered in this episode of the PCP podcast is a foundational component of my skilled trade’s success process that you see here.
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Martin King 0:08
Most technicians are going to charge an initial process to their system with just regular city water. And this makes perfect sense because city water is accessible, it’s relatively cheap, and it’s pressurized. So it’s really easy to fill a system without a pump. So that all makes great sense. The downside to charging a system with city water is the water comes from nature, right in one way or the other. That’s how we get it. That’s how we collect it. And along with the city water, you’re going to get some things that can potentially cause a problem eventually with a process chiller system. So this episode is actually part one of a two part series, this one’s going to be covering rust in a system. So the next one, we’re going to be covering algae. So we’re going to go for rust color to green color. And I’m going to share with you what causes rust in a process chiller system, what to do about it, and how to keep it from coming back. So this episode hopefully will be a lot of help to you technicians out there. So when you show up on a site and you have a customer complaining about a system that’s Miss colored, you’ll be able to quickly identify what the problem is and recommend the proper solutions. If you’ve subscribed to our podcast using our alert system, just go ahead and click the link below that will jump you directly over to this particular episode of the process Tiller pro podcast. If you’re checking out our podcast on one of the social platforms like LinkedIn, or Facebook, all you have to do is check out in this post, you’ll see a link that will also take you over directly to this week’s episode, if you could do me a favor. And I know you probably have been asked this 1,000,001 times, if you like our content. In other words, you’ve checked it out before you like this type of content. Before you make your jump from one of the social platforms, consider clicking the like button. Again, I know you’ve been asked that a lot, but it’s super helpful to us. It tweaks the algorithm a little bit and it helps get the word out about our podcast to more and more people. So if you could do that, before you make the jump and hit the link in this post, I’d really appreciate it. So before we jump into this episode, a couple of reminders, we produce all of our content in two different formats. We do video as well as audio only. So if you happen to be driving around in your service truck, listening to this content, that’s awesome. That means that you’re probably ahead of 90% of the technicians out there, mainly because you have the mindset of investment in yourself. So I commend you for that. However, if you are a little confused about the stuff I’m talking about, why don’t you just make a mental note, save the link if you’ve been notified through one of our social channels or email and pop over to the process Tiller academy.com page for this episode. And check it out in video format as well. It really helped fill in the gaps. Now I will do my very best as I’m going through this content to try to explain what I’m putting up on the screen. However, sometimes I just can’t do that good of a job at it because it tends to be a little bit technical. So make some time to do that. Lastly, if you’re into the HVAC, trade or skilled trades, and you’re learning about new stuff that I’m providing on these videos, I want to remind you that this content is really designed for people who are skilled trades people you’re in other words, you’re comfortable with refrigeration, you’re comfortable with electrical, and you have a good amount of common sense not to get yourself into situations where you can get yourself hurt. So my suggestion is if you’re carrying out one of the things that I’ve described in any one of these videos, and you’re feeling a little bit uncomfortable, stop and find somebody with a little bit more experience to help you do these tasks that I’m talking about. So that’s my keep it safe guys suggestion. Well without further ado, let’s jump into this new episode of the process Tiller pro podcast if you’re jumping
over to the process, Tiller academy.com site from one of our alert emails or one of our social feeds welcome if you happen to be listening to the podcast or audio only version of the show. I’d also like to reach out to welcome you as well. We’re glad that you’re here as I addressed in the introductory video that you may have seen rust in a process Tiller application can have a whole host of issues and in many times if it’s not addressed soon once you see the rust starting showing up in your fluid, it will cause a process chiller failure, in some cases catastrophic failure of the internal chiller components. My goal is when you get the call from your customer, and or you’re an end user and One of your operators is telling you hey boss, the fluid is turning a weird color, you’ll be able to see what exactly it is and get a really good idea on how to figure out how to address it. I’m going to show in this episode, what causes Rosten process to their application, how to eliminate it initially from your system, and then what steps you can take to permanently resolve the issue. So it doesn’t show up. Again, full disclosure, I am not a scientist, I’ve understand the process of Ross building up in a process Tiller application, I know where it comes from. However, I’m not a scientist. So I’m sure there’s people out there listening to this podcast right now that are much smarter in the area that have rust and how it happens. So if you think you have content you can provide us that will help our audience, please send me a message because we are always open to changing or updating our content to make sure that the information we’re putting out there is helpful to as many people as possible. So let’s talk about where process fluid comes from. And as I mentioned earlier, in the introduction, most commonly technicians do startups on process shoulders, they’re going to use city water, it’s convenient, cheap, easy to install in the system, it’s pressurized. All that stuff. I mentioned that earlier. The other possibility is distilled water. And I think distilled water personally is the best. Because you have no minerals, it’s it’s just basically pure water. The downside to it, it just doesn’t have a lot of practicality, right? Most distilled water unless you have a special service, you got to go to the store and buy it in one gallon containers. If you have a 500 gallon system, you see what I mean. So that is something that isn’t practical in most cases. However, if you have a highly critical, like an MRI, or you know high tech piece of equipment, you don’t have a huge system volume, that may be a great way to go. So distilled water is an option. The other one that I’ve heard the last decade or so, especially in high tech, when I got started in chillers, that’s what we did. There’s an idea out there that deionized water is the way to go. Now in this episode, towards the end, I have a male segment and I’m gonna address that in detail at the end of this episode. So deionized water, overall, I’m down on that. But let’s, let’s hold off on discussing that particular subject to the male segment. So I can kind of cover two in one the two main reasons why rust occurs in a process chiller system has to do with minerals, particularly minerals that originally came in with a water in suspension, meaning that the molecules are separate, you can’t really see them unless you have a microscope. They’re they’re in suspension. So the mineral side, minerals have a tendency to fall out of suspension in a closed loop environment. And that can cause a whole bunch of trouble. And I’m going to go over that in a few minutes. The other thing is air entrainment. So air is also going to be just part of the package. When you open up the city valve, you let city water in, you’re going to get both minerals, and you’re going to get air. Now I’m going to show you in a few minutes how the minerals get in there, I think you probably have a pretty good idea. But I’m just going to do a little refresher on where those minerals how they ended up in our city water.
So what I’ve put up on the screen here, and as I mentioned before, I will do my very best to try to explain what you’re looking at here. So this is a image that’s been provided by I believe the USGS if I remember correctly, and this sort of sums up what I’m talking about. So the water that we drink we shower with we use every day comes from the sky originally, obviously it comes out of storm clouds. So storm clouds will drop the water droplets. And what happens to that water droplet as it leaves the clouds is kind of where the minerals come from. So if you think about it, the municipal supplies will come from either a lake, or a river or groundwater and it just depends it’s all across the board you can get get your water from or your city may get water from a multitude of sources. But in any case, when that water falls unless you happen to be lucky enough to draw off a very, very clear lake. In other words, there’s there’s just drawing directly off the lake, maybe you know, a few feet from the bottom, you probably won’t get a lot of minerals that way. But if you’re drawing off a river or you’re drawing off a a ground war ground source, it makes a lot of sense if you think about it, that droplet hits the ground and then it and then it wicks down into the dirt and then it goes down into the water table so out while it’s doing that. It’s picking up minerals. And even in a lake. I guess you’re going to have minerals in there too, right because You’ll have rivers that feed into that lake. And that mineral deposit won’t necessarily drop directly down to the bottom of the lake. So you’re still going to get some minerals, you just cannot avoid it. So that’s pretty much it. If
you look at this drawing here, you’re gonna see kind of what I’m talking about. So you have your precipitation, you have your well, you have lakes, you have streams that are feeding into those lakes, and you’ll see that, along with that fluid, you’re going to get all types of minerals. Now, minerals are not bad. They matter of fact, we drink minerals all the time. And there’s a lot of benefits to that. So your human body needs to have minerals to survive, and it’s just, it’s just part of our life, you can’t avoid it. But when you are taking that material and you’re putting it into a process, chiller loop, those minerals can get a little crazy, and they can do some stuff that you do not want. So what I’ve put up on the screen now is sort of a generic drawing of a typical process chiller application. So I’ll just go through this real quickly. This is it’s pretty self explanatory. So the blue obviously means your supply lines. So the blue pipes indicate the cold water coming out of the chiller application, whatever it is. So the blue goes up, you have filters and strainers. This particular drawing shows a filter bypass assembly, which allows you to clean a strainer while the system is running, which is ideal. And then you go into what we call the supply header. So that’s supply header, you have multiple branches, this this particular application, I have five different load showing on here. But this is just generic. So out of each load, you’re cold waters going in the warm waters coming out of each load into what we call a return header, and then it comes back through another filter bypass assembly into the chiller. So that’s a pretty generic, you know how the how you should set it up process chiller loop. Now, where the minerals come into play is the materials that are used in the chiller as well as the plumbing system. And as well as the process, whatever that is, whether it’s a heat exchanger, or it’s brewery, whatever it is, whatever the customers cooling. With this chiller loop, there’s going to be some type of material and a common thing to use his PVC pipe. Now PVC pipe actually when it comes to minerals is pretty good. But somewhere along the way, you’re going to have exposure to either copper, brass, stainless steel, in some cases, aluminum, in other cases, some type of material, some type of some type of metal. Now what happens as this fluid is going through these pipes, these minerals have a tendency to fall out of suspension, so they bind to one another. And when that happens, the they have these collisions. So for example, if you see this line right here, you’ve got this blue line coming right off the chiller. So assuming there’s a pump in the chiller that’s shooting that fluid out of there, it’s going down a straight pipe, and then you have an abrupt 90 degree turn. Now in a real system, this is just the drawing, you may have dozens of elbows and dozens of turns and twists and things like that. So each time that mineral deposit after it’s bound together with a bunch of other minerals, it actually collides with the interior walls of the entire process, whatever that is. So if it hits a piece of copper, it’s going to slough or chip off as I say, as I call it, a little microscopic piece of copper, brass, galvanized steel, whatever you’re using, and over time, what happens is that sloughing off, that chipping occurs in it gets spewed out into the system is going to start flowing around in there and it builds and it builds. And what ends up happening ultimately is these large chunks of minerals and these large chunks of chipped off material. Even though they’re microscopic, they’re very very small, they will start to decay or degrade the major components within your system usually the first place you see the impact of this is going to be on your pump impellers and your heat exchangers and things like that. So that’s sort of the process now the color comes from the second reason why you have rust in your system and that is air. So air entrainment is also another very negative thing on a process chiller system, most process chiller systems are closed loop which means once you charge it with the system, it charges system with your water or water slash glycol, whatever it is, you’re putting in there it’s closed your the air is not getting out it’s not coming in and hopefully the fluids not going out or coming in it’s it’s static. So if you don’t have a way for the air that your abs Only 150% going to get when you put water in your system from the city, if there’s no way for that air to escape it to is going to atomize and turn into molecular very, very small bits and pieces. And it’s going to start commingling with all the materials that have been chipped off
from the minerals, right from the mineral deposits. So that thing the so you have the air mixing with chipped off metals, what do you think that does, it causes rust so that that over time will build up and cause your system to discolor. So this is basically what I’m talking about, just like this. So this is a sample of a real process chiller system. So it’ll it’ll build up. And it’s that’s just what happens. Now, to get these systems out or get these these materials out of the system. You need to jump on it. So it can occur relatively quickly. If you have a groundwater based municipal supply, and you put that into your system, and you’ve got a good amount of air even a normal amount of air. I’ve seen systems that are going to change color within a matter of days. Other systems if you got a low load of minerals might take a couple months. It just depends on what you get when you fill your system from the city. I get approached from time to time from people looking for process chillers. And as the cliche goes, I know some guys and those guys are Andy and Paul over at G and D chillers. If you’re an end user and OEM or reseller and you’re looking for a quality chiller to be designed in Bill Endian Paul are the go to guys for the chiller pros out there. GND has been designing and building chillers for over 25 years and besides knowing what they’re doing, they’re honest and they go over and above to treat their customers right. So if you find yourself in need of a process chiller call GND at 800-555-0973 Make sure to ask for Andy or Paul and use the promo code chiller pro so they know that you’re one of our listeners. I love one of their tag lines to it says that they’re big enough to produce and small enough to care and that’s the for sure G and D again called G and D chillers. Ask for Andy or Paul use promo code chiller pro 800 105 550973 or check them out online at G D chillers comm forward slash chiller Pro.
Let’s talk about air for a minute. We talked about minerals in detail let’s let’s touch on the subject of air. Now as I said, you’re going to get air no matter what you’re going to have it in the system, you have to have some type of an apparatus for the air to be released. And my favorite is the Hoffman number 79 automatic air vent. And what this thing does basically is if it’s installed correctly, you’re going to those air bubbles are going to make it by and you want to mount these these number 79 air vents at the high points of your process loop. And you’ll see it on the drawing here that I’ve got up on screen and I’m sorry about your audio guys, if you get a chance, check out this this podcast on video because you’ll see what I’m talking about, you’ll get a little better takeaway. But the BV stands for ball valve. So you’ll have a T in both your supply and return header lines. And you have a ball valve. Now typically what I like to do, just to I mentioned properly installed, what I like to do is the the line coming off of the main supply and return header, I want to make sure that’s at least the same size as the pipe. So if this is an inch and a half pipe, I want that T to be inch and a half. And what you want to do is you want to have a good amount of pipe between the T and the ball valve and I’m saying you know 12 to 18 inches if you can. And the reason why that is is that large pipe, those water, those air bubbles are going to have a chance as they’re going by, you want as big of an area as possible to catch them. So if you downsized it from an inch and a half to three quarters, you’re gonna have less of an opportunity for those bubbles to make it up. So you want to have a ball valve there and that allows you to service the automatic air vent, that’s what the AV meant means that you’re Hoffmann 79. And so those air bubbles come up and go through the valve because valves left open when you’re running it and it’s going to allow that air bubble out off the top. So that’s how they work. I mean they’re they’re not that high tech and what you want to do is have have these placed at your strategic places in the system. I’m showing it here at the very end of the run, which tends to be the best place because you’re going to be catching air bubbles that are coming out of the entire loop pretty much so but if you’ve got a lot of air entrainment, you may need to put them in in a couple different places. So automatic air vent is a must and not really how A lot of getting all the air out of the system. Now just as a side scheduling note or programming note, I have a gentleman named Mike Mularkey. That’s going to be coming on the podcast in the next few weeks. He has another product that I think is kind of interesting. And I’m gonna be talking to him about that. And his product supposedly is a lot better. And the data looks pretty darn good. So I’m going to be excited to talk to Mike and find out what he’s got that’s going to help with air entrainment in a process chiller. Let’s talk about what to do
about air entrainment and mineral entrainment in a process chiller loop. So once the rough starts, it’s really, really difficult. And I would argue almost impossible to put a filter or anything like like that on there to clear that up. It’s it’s just not practical, especially what the service rates nowadays, the customer is going to want to see like a light switch, he’s going to want to see that rust in there. And he was going to want to see it gone in, in short order. So what I would suggest that you do is to completely flush the system. What that means is what I call a constant purge or constant flash in what you do shut the chiller offline, get it, get it off. And what you’re going to do is find a spot in the system where you can hook a garden hose on to it, or several spots, depending on the layout of the system. And you’re going to want to run freshwater in and you want to continue to flush flush flush until all of that rust is gone. Right. So that’s the first step. The second thing you’re going to do is you’re going to go around the system. And you’ll notice on the drawing I have here, you know, we have strangers all over the system, you may have strangers also inside the chiller as well, all those strainers would need to either have to be completely cleaned, or in the case you have a filter or pleated filter replaced, you want to get all that mineral and all that contaminants out of the system. Once that’s done, then you want to recharge the system with city water, which will be clear. And again, you’re going to get more minerals, you’re going to get more air, that’s just how it is. But the difference this time, what you’re going to do is you can either put in glycol, if it’s a glycol system, and you’re running over 20% by volume, you’re already going to have an inhibitor in there. And what the inhibitor does for you is it coats the entire plumbing, all the wet surfaces within this system are going to be coded. And they usually not all, but most of the time, they’re using a nitrite, inhibitor, and nitrate what it does, as I said it just it just builds a film over all the plumbing, internal parts. And when those minerals decide to do they’re combining in, they’re getting ready to really do you know rock and rumble. And in turn to do some damage to the plumbing system, what’s going to happen is it’s going to hit that film first and basically not actually impact or collide with the material. So if you don’t have the material sloughing or chipping off, you’ve eliminated a significant part of the possibility of building that discoloration. So that’s the first thing. Now if you’re not running in glycol, you can purchase inhibitors that there’s a bunch of different companies out there that make it and you can put that in a nitride based inhibitor, and that will do your thing, you won’t get any freeze protection, obviously, because you’re not running any glycol, but you’ll have the protection. So that is typically how you do that. So if you have an automatic air event, and you make sure once you’ve flushed the system completely, you put in a good either glycol 20% or more with an inhibitor package or a nitrite by itself, you’re going to be well on your way to solving the problem. Alright, so that’s that now in the mail segment, I actually have a question about this. I’ve been saving questions about water type stuff. And I’m going to be addressing a problem that came up in the mail segment. I think there also be some help. Alright, so let’s get rolling on the male segment. I put this off. There’s some great stuff in here. And I mentioned one item earlier in the episode about DI water. So we’re gonna we’re gonna nail that in a minute. Alright, so the first question comes from a guy named Mark Spiegel. I hope I pronounced your name right, Mark Green Bay, Wisconsin.
That is a cold area during the winter. Let me tell you anyway, I know I don’t have to tell you that. So the question is, I have rust that keeps coming back in my process chiller system, and then he put help exclamation point. Alright, so mark, here’s the situation, you’re going to have that happen from time to time. I don’t know why. But again, I mentioned earlier if we’ve got some smart scientists out there that might want to chime in and let us know But there are certain circumstances that come up no matter what you do, you’ve just got too many minerals, you got too much air in that system. And no matter what you do, even though you treat it with at least 20% glycol, that has a nitrate based inhibitor in it, or you’re just running straight water, and you’ve got a good quality nitrate in there, it still starts to rust up, even after you flushed it out completely, it’s just happened. So the best advice I can give you mark is to get hold of a local water testing agency, you probably Google it, there’s some really good companies out there, that will go in, they’ll do testing, and they’ll find out what’s going on. And then what they’ll do is they’ll prescribe a series of services that need to be provided probably over a period of time, as well as some chemicals that will keep that from coming back. And if you have a mission critical application, and the customer is very sensitive to downtime, I recommend that you subcontract that outfit to have them come back as often as necessary to retest and re up whatever chemicals or whatever they need to do. It’s well worth the money. So that is just the best answer I can give you. The second question came in from Max Smith out of Walnut Creek, California. This one is a question about DI water. And I mentioned I was going to put this off to the end to the male segment. Because I want to just delve into this a little bit in this episode. So deionized water is what it is what it says it’s water that’s ultra clean, that has had the ions removed. Now, that’s fine. There’s applications that not killer applications. But there’s applications where I deionized water is really popular, particularly in high tech. So deionized water The downside is most of the interconnecting components and the major components themselves in the chiller, the interconnecting plumbing system, the water distribution system, and the process will contain materials like copper, galvanized steel, brass, you name it, or alloys that contain those things. And the first thing that happens when you expose those components to deionized water is that deionized water is going to try and remove the ions from those materials. And that process is very, very aggressive and can cause significant damage to the internal components of a chiller system. The only way around that is the chiller and the process has to be specially engineered to support deionized water typically the interconnecting pipes will have to be made out of schedule 80 PVC, and you can’t have any brass copper or steel or anything like that titanium as a real popular material, but whatever it is, you have to make sure that those materials are rated to be able to deal with deionized water in my opinion, DI water has no place in a process chiller application, none. There are some applications out there that you know the customers just have to have it. Usually when I was a manufacturer, when I told them that the port what the price would be to actually manufacture a chiller for deionized water which typically would be at least double in some cases three times the cost of a regular chiller. And that’s not including the cost increases they would have on the installation of all the stuff external to the chiller. Usually the customer ended up going with distilled water as I mentioned earlier, which is a great option or tap water with a good quality inhibitor package. That’s just how that works. So hopefully that answers your question, guys. That was a great mail segment and please continue to send your questions in to me I’m on LinkedIn or you can email me at M King at process chiller Academy comm I would love to read your questions as part of the show. Make sure if you decide that you want to do that. Make sure you tell me your name and town name and town name and town. And also let me know if you do not want your question and my answer to that question. Read Out Loud on the show. Let me know that and I’ll reach out to you one on one and get you the help you need. Okay, thank you very much for that. That was these great questions keep them coming in.
So let’s check out this week’s words terms and quotes. Here we go. Someone once told me that time is a predator that stalks all of us all our lives, but I’d rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment because it will never come again. That John Luke Picard if you remember that is the character’s name on the Star Trek Next Generation series So I hope you get inspired by that it generates some thought and helps you have a little better week.
Before we wrap up this episode, I want to share with you some exciting stuff that we have going on in the process, chiller Academy comm website. All of this stuff is happening on the technician resource page that I’m putting up on the screen now. So check it out, if you get a chance to watch this in video mode. The first thing I want to share with you is I’m super excited about this program. This is a skilled trade Success System. And I’ve developed this over the last 30 years. And what we’re doing to try it out is I’m putting together a five day free email course that covers the Success program. Now, this is not a technical course. Basically what I’m teaching you in this free course is the mindset and the habits that are needed to be successful in the industry. I cover technical excellence, I cover work ethic, I cover personal finance, although I don’t get into investing or anything like that. And I also cover the all important work life balance. Now one of the things I’d like to share with you is I have been training my technicians for years with this when I was a contractor, all the way up through the years I’ve been working with my technicians with this, and many of the technicians that I’ve used this particular program for have either continued in the industry and many of them are technicians making well into the six figures. Many of them have actually started their own businesses are and are millionaires now. So what I want to do share this with you guys in hopefully allow you to apply these skills that I offer to your lives and speed your trajectory as you’re working through the skilled trades. And this doesn’t just apply to HVAC refrigeration. The second thing I want to share with you is the courses that we have for sale on this page. Now right now we only have three, we have maintenance, we have chiller system design, and we have basic refrigeration troubleshooting of refrigeration systems. And for a limited time, I’m going to be offering 25% off any one of these courses. And all you have to do is use the promo code chiller pro at checkout and you’ll get you’ll get in the additional bonus that I’m offering to everybody out there is you’ll have access to me. So when you register for your course you’re going to get an email, and then email is going to have a link to register for my office hours. So I dedicate a few hours each week to spend time with my students and help them through the course content and answer any refrigeration type questions that I possibly can. The other benefit is if you have stuff that’s outside my skill set, let’s say you need help and controls or you need help and boilers I’ve been in the business a very long time. So what I try to do doesn’t happen every time but what I’ll try to do is connect you up with some of the pros that I’ve worked with before that really know their stuff. So that’s one of the things that you will only get as a paid student. Now if you use the promo code your access to my office hours goes for a period of one year starting from when you purchase it so you got a whole year of direct support one on one from me so hopefully that will help you out well this episode of the process Builder Pro is a wrap as they say thanks so much for joining me today. I’m very much looking forward to developing relationship with you and seeing if I can help you in your career path as much as I possibly can. I’m looking forward to hearing from you on LinkedIn where I’m at most of the time I’m also on all the social networks. You can also send me emails at emptying at process chiller. academy.com and I will see you next week for our next installment of the process. Chiller pro podcast. You have a great week and go get them out there. I’ll talk to you soon.