Key Considerations for Implementing a Winter HVAC Plan

BY Burns Mechanical IN HVAC Equipment, Maintenance, Service

winter-blogWith the Winter season fast approaching, HVAC systems require special attention to ensure they are protected throughout the bitter cold months. There are a few important considerations that should be part of the winter maintenance plan to ensure your employees, tenants and customers are provided with a comfortable environment. While winterizing HVAC systems for commercial buildings can be a demanding process, a thorough inspection of all systems, a focus on some critical areas and pre-planning of specific tasks will go a long way to ensuring a successful winterization plan. In this 2-part blog series, we will cover the five key areas to consider when implementing a facility winter HVAC plan. In Part 1, we will focus on Cooling Towers and Closed Circle Industrial Coolers.


Cooling Towers

Cooling towers, closed circuit coolers, and evaporative condensers will always be an area of concern because of their inherent vulnerability to freezing. Here is what you can do to maintain these systems:

  • Ensure all basin heaters are in good working condition; these heaters keep the basin water from freezing and are an essential part of the winterization process.
  • All outdoor water lines, including the makeup water line to the tower and drain lines from the tower should be heat traced and insulated.
  • During operation, frequent visual inspections of the tower must be performed regularly to review controls, see that freeze prevention is effective and discover any icing conditions before they damage the equipment.
  • A regular preventive maintenance program must be established and carried out despite adverse weather conditions.


Closed circuit industrial coolers

Closed circuit industrial coolers, frequently referred to as cooling towers require special attention during the winter months. These systems are often part of a water source heat pump system and a frozen coil in one can be a catastrophic event for your building. The following is a good checklist:

  • Charge the coil with ethylene glycol to prevent the system fluid from freezing. The percentage of ethylene glycol should be determined based upon the conditions in your area.
  • If no ethylene glycol is used, adequate flow through the coil must be maintained so that the temperature of the circulating fluid is never less than 50 degrees F. (See appropriate equipment literature for details.)
  • During light load periods, artificial heat should be applied directly to the circulating fluid.
  • A vacuum breaker or air vent should be installed at the high point of the system and an adequately sized drain should be installed at the low point to permit emergency drainage of the coil.
  • All outdoor water lines and the spray pump body should be traced with heating cable and insulated