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Deliver Peace of Mind with Refrigerant Testing

Originally published: 10.01.16 by John Bryant


Deliver Peace of Mind with Refrigerant Testing

Take an active role in maintaining the health of your customers’ cooling systems.

 

A trusted service partner is like a doctor, performing a full examination to understand your wellness, with an eye toward your long-term future. They prescribe a plan to get you back on your feet and advise you on preventive care for better health. They build a relationship based on trust in order to be there for you over the long term.

This is the ideal model for service. Service professionals who are truly trusted advisors can take an active role helping their customers maintain the health of their cooling systems.

Regular contact builds the trust upon which these relationships depend. Customer encounters need not be frequent, but they must be meaningful.

Add value to your customer relationships by adding annual refrigerant testing. While many preventive maintenance tasks

are well-established among contractors, annual refrigerants testing has not been — but should be. Today’s increased access to testing, with its predictive nature, faster turnaround and lower cost, make it an ideal tool for the technician’s preventive maintenance schedule.

Testing your customers’ refrigerants can save your customers money and deliver peace of mind. It also helps you build a revenue stream based upon frequent customer


touches and can help you build your referral network.

Some benefits of regular refrigerants testing include:

• Increased Energy Efficiency

• Increased System Life

• Lower Maintenance Costs

• Less Downtime

• Early System Problem Detection

• Verification of Quality and Quantity of Refrigerant

• Ability to Schedule Work for Planned Shut Downs

• Proof of Proactive Actions

• Peace of Mind

Test Refrigerants and Oil

Customers may not be sure what refrigerant testing comprises and what the system is tested for. Refrigerants are tested for purity and the presence of air, oil, water and particulates, as well as the proper charge. Test oil for moisture, acid, viscosity and wear metals, which can affect compressor performance and life.

Air — Non-condensable gases, including air, can harm cooling system equipment. Air in the system can increase operating temperatures and pressure, putting stress on compressors, wearing down lubricants and consuming more energy.

Oil — Excess oil in refrigerant harms system efficiency and can damage compressors. According to ASHRAE, oil contamination of refrigerant by one percent by weight can cut refrigeration efficiency by 1-3 percent. Efficiency loss tends to approximately double from there, meaning the higher the oil content, the greater the efficiency loss.

High moisture content — More than 50 ppm of water creates damaging conditions. High levels of moisture fosters the creation of acids that can corrode system components and create particulates. With enough water, ice can form, damaging tubes, valves and evaporators. In addition, water can combine with oil to damage surfaces and restrict flow passages.

Particulates — Particulates can often clog externally enhanced tubing, clog oil filters, and even create an abrasive condition harmful to certain operating components within the system.

Fast, Inexpensive, Peace of Mind

The number of test labs has grown, and the cost for a test runs in the low hundreds, with results returned in a week. Quick turnaround is even available depending upon location and timing.

This can make a critical difference if emergency work is necessary. Test results will help you with short-term and long-term system planning, as well as uncover anomalies or threats.

Customers appreciate knowing they are in good condition or knowing which issues they need to address. This knowledge helps them in the following ways:

• Avoiding EPA fines for breaking rules about leaks

• Complying with regulatory, industry, or company environmental mandates

• Better planning and budget justification through understanding future maintenance needs

• Knowing they’ve done proper due diligence to minimize the risk of catastrophic events

Trend Data Valuable

Taking annual or regularly scheduled refrigerant samples gives you a system health baseline and allows you to spot trends over time. Spotting a year-over-year continual increase in contaminants, air, water or oil allows you to take a proactive approach to the maintenance, which can save a lot of money over emergency situations.

The difference between scheduled maintenance and a catastrophe is a huge expense. Scheduled downtime begins months out from the actual system shutdown.

The ability to schedule resources and material well in advance saves a lot of money, ensures the availability of staff and equipment and allows for a planned, managed project rather than an emergency repair.

Refrigerant maintenance should be scheduled for these shutdown windows too. Advance testing can show whether it’s necessary to reserve plant shutdown time specifically to address refrigerant issues.

Partner for Refrigerant Repair

Processing thousands of pounds of refrigerant back to AHRI -700 specifications can happen onsite, however, unless the processing equipment can handle thousands of pounds per hour, this endeavor will be expensive due to high labor costs.

It’s advisable to partner with a refrigerant recovery vendor who can perform high-speed system evacuations and process large quantities of refrigerants onsite back to high quality or AHRI-700 specs. The vendor services the refrigerant, while you service the system.

This decontamination or ‘repairing’ the refrigerant is often accompanied by system flushes and cryogenic dehydrations to remove moisture, oil and particulates.

Maintenance Now vs. Later

Maintenance has always been a “Pay Now or Pay Later” proposition. Today’s increased visibility to cooling system health through easier access to refrigerants testing makes it easier for contractors to recommend the ounce of prevention over the pounds of cure more than ever.

 


John Bryant, P.E., is Field Services Manager for Airgas Refrigerants, an Air Liquide company, one of the country’s largest refrigerants distributors, reclaimers and emergency refrigerant service providers. For additional information, visit airgasrefrigerants.com.

 




About John Bryant

John Bryant

John Bryant, P.E., is Field Services Manager for Airgas Refrigerants, an Air Liquide company, one of the country’s largest refrigerants distributors, reclaimers and emergency refrigerant service providers. For additional information, visit airgasrefrigerants.com




Articles by John Bryant

Deliver Peace of Mind with Refrigerant Testing

Add value to your customer relationships by incorporating annual refrigerant testing. While many preventive maintenance tasks are well-established among contractors, annual refrigerants testing has not been — but should be.
View article.