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Trouble Shooting

To trouble shoot you system it is best to divide and isolate to potential source of the problem. Review the items below which are listed by system type.





Chilled Water

Chiller is shutting down

  A.   Chiller shuts down on high refrigerant head pressure.

  • Too much refrigerant.

  • Condenser is old (not efficient)

  • Operating chilled water temperature too high.

  • Cooling load too high.

  B.   Chiller shuts down on low refrigerant pressure.
  • Not enough refrigerant.

  • Head Pressure controls not working.


  C.   Chiller shuts down on low flow.
  • Not enough water flow.

  • Faulty flow switch.

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Chiller is not maintaining set point temperature.

  A.    Cooling load is too high.
  • Do heat load analysis.

  B.   Incondensable in the refrigeration circuits.

  • Call refrigeration mechanic.

  C.   Evaporator is old or plugged.

  • Call refrigeration mechanic.
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Cooling Tower

  1.     Water temperature too warm.

  A.   Cooling Tower Fan not operating.

  • Motor is burned out.

  • Fan belt is broken or loose.

  • Fan shaft is broken.

  • Fan blade(s) or blower is broken (usually caused by freezing).

  • Fan thermostat is broken.

  • Fan thermostat is set too high.

  • Fan motor fuse needs replaced.

  • Fan starter overload needs replaced.


  B.   Not enough water flow across Cooling Tower.

  • Check Tower Pump discharge valve is not closed.

  • Check Tower Pump suction valve is not closed.

  • Check if Tower Pump is operating.

  • Check to see if wet deck or Tower nozzles are not plugged.

  C.   Too much water flow across Cooling Tower.

  • Is Tower Balancing Valve wide open?

  • If Standby Combined Pump is being used, is discharge valve wide open (too much pressure) or throttled to simulate Tower Pump?

  D.   Tower Fill is in poor condition

  • May need to be replaced

  E.   Cooling Load is too large for existing Cooling Tower.

  • Do Cooling Load Analysis.

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  2.     Cooling Tower water temperature too cold.

2.1     Tower Fan is not cycling off.

  • Check Thermostat (set too low).

  • Thermostat malfunction (not opening fan starter contacts).


2.2     Small cooling load and very cold temperatures.

  •  Is low temperature thermostat not turning Tower pump off? (For primary/secondary systems)

  • Is low temperature thermostat not causing the Tower Water to bypass the Cooling Tower? (For single loop systems)


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  3.     Is Cooling Tower Water in poor condition?

3.1     Water Treatment System

  • Is the water make-up meter working? (This cycles the chemical pumps.)

  • Are the chemical pump timers adjusted properly? (Too much chemicals.)

  • Is the conductivity probe measuring accurately? (Needs to be cleaned periodically.)

  • Is the water bleed-off valve operating properly? (Solenoid valve may not be working or the valve may be plugged with sediment.)

  • Is the Water Treatment controller working properly?

  • Are you dumping too much city water into the system? (Throws the chemical treatment system off.)


3.2     Do you need a water softener?


  •       If the make-up water is too hard, the water needs to be softened.

3.3     Do you have proper water filtration?


  • Do you have full flow strainers? (Usually 1/16 for discharge strainers and 1/8 for suction strainers placed in supply to process.)

  • Do you have fine particle filtration set up as a bypass? (Usually 5% of the flow to process. Allows the filtration of the fine particles which reduces the bleed-off and the amount of water make-up and chemicals needed.)

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Closed-Loop Cooling Systems

  1.     Having intermittent cooling problems at process.

  • It is important to remove any air in the system. Air can reduce proper cooling water flow through your process.

  • Do you vent the air out of a system before closing?

  • Do you have air vents located at the highest points in the system?

  • Do you need an air separator? (This is usually required for systems that keep getting opened to atmosphere like mold changes.)

  2.     System Pressure too high.
  • Is pressure at the expansion tank set properly?

  • Do you have a make-up water pressure reducing valve?

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Heat Exchangers

  • The common problem with heat exchangers is that they get fouled or air is entrapped in them.

  • All heat exchangers should have supply and return pressure gauges and temperature gauges. This is an easy way to monitor the effectiveness of the heat exchanger.

  • If you change your cooling load requirement and/or the flow requirement, the heat exchanger will operate differently. (Please check with the supplier for consequences of changed parameters.)

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Process Pipe Systems

  1.     Not enough flow to a process.
  • Pipe is undersized for the application. ( A flow analysis is needed to ensure water is not being restricted because of undersized pipe.)

  • Pipe is plugged. (May need to be cleaned or replaced.)

  • Valve is closed.

  • Process Pump is undersized for flow requirement. (Need to do a cooling load and flow analysis of system.)

  • Valve is wide open in another part of the system and is robbing all of the flow.

  • Back to top

  2.     Not enough pressure to a process.

  • Pipe is undersized for the application. (Too much pipe pressure losses.)

  • Pipe is plugged. (May need to be cleaned or replaced.)

  • Valve is closed.

  • Process Pump is undersized for pressure requirement.

  • Valve is wide open in another part of the system and is robbing all of the flow. (And therefore, the pressure.)

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  3.     Water hammer is causing pipe to leak.


Water hammer is normally caused by a sudden change in pressure where the pressure differential is large. In a large piping system, there are many reliefs (open valves) to absorb the water hammer. However, if water hammer persists, there are many ways to fix it.

  • Properly support pipe. (A small water hammer can cause water pipe to sway.)

  • Change on/off solenoid valves to slow actuating or modulating valves.

  • Soft starters on pumps.

  • Water hammer arrestor should be installed.

  • City water pressure reducing valve before water make-up valve.

  • Back to top



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