Loosing large quantities of refrigerant through leaks can be costly for food retailers, and that’s why they must prioritize refrigerant leak reduction through commercial refrigeration preventative maintenance. Indeed, one important aspect of leak prevention includes employing certain commercial refrigeration maintenance tasks on equipment and systems.
With this in mind, let’s explore the top 10 commercial refrigeration maintenance tasks that should be carried out during routine walk-throughs for refrigerant leaks in this commercial refrigeration maintenance checklist below.
10 Tasks for Leak Prevention
Before delving into the maintenance tasks, it is important to have a clear understanding of your maintenance program and the designated responsibilities to various individuals (i.e., for the facility owner and for the technician/contractor).
While the technician and/or contractor carries out the maintenance tasks below, the responsibility ultimately lies with the facility owner. As such, there’s little room for improper procedures. This is especially true now if you take into account the EPA 608 Update’s stringent new leak rate requirements for commercial refrigeration equipment.
Let’s now get to the crux of our commercial refrigeration maintenance checklist. Starting with point number one:
1) Know and record your refrigerant receiver level(s).
It’s important for you to know and record your refrigerant receiver level. Your current refrigerant receiver level should be compared with the level(s) logged in previous checks. That’s because a significant drop in the refrigerant level could be the result of a significant refrigerant leak.
2) Look for oil seepage in the mechanical room.
The compressor racks, piping, and valves in your mechanical room should be visually checked for any oil seepage. If oil seepage is observed, use an electronic leak detection method, the most precise and efficient refrigerant leak detection method, to identify and find any refrigerant leak.
3) Check high-pressure control lines.
The control line temperature of all high-pressure switches should be checked at a point that is about 12 inches from the compressor connection. If such temperature is above the mechanical room’s ambient temperature, a small refrigerant leak could be present in the control line, fitting, or control bellows.
4) Check the pressure relief valves.
You should check the pressure relief valves of each system for refrigerant release. There are numerous signals that a relief valve has discharged, and such signals can include the relief valve having a balloon, blow-off cap, etc.
5) Look for oil seepage on air-cooled condensers.
All air-cooled condensers should be visually checked for oil seepage underneath the unit and on finned coil surfaces.
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6) Check condenser fan blades and motor mounts.
Note imbalance in the condenser fan blades and wear in the motor mounts. In fact, excess vibration in the blades can result in motor mount failure. This can even lead to a high-pressure leak (due to the spinning motor dropping and tearing a tube sheet).
7) Check piping and fittings.
You should visually check piping and fittings to make sure there is no pipe chafing and no excessive stress on piping or fittings from thermal or mechanical pipe movement during operation.
8) Verify equipment is leak-tight upon leaving factory.
It’s important to work with equipment suppliers to verify that your commercial refrigeration equipment is leak-tight upon leaving the factory. If you do find leaks in factory-built equipment and/or subsystems, make sure to inform your suppliers with such feedback.
9) Use an electronic refrigerant leak detector for inspections.
You should inspect critical areas with a portable electronic refrigerant leak detector at its most sensitive setting.
Your inspections should include all mechanical room components of each refrigeration system; the sales area of the store of each refrigerated case; each walk-in cooler, freezer, and refrigerated prep area; subsurface refrigeration access pits (starting with riser pits); and accessible overhead refrigeration lines (following the path of the lines).
10) Have fixed refrigerant leak detection working properly.
Last but not least, you should have fixed refrigerant leak detection installed and ensure that it is working properly. Did you know the Bacharach Multi-Zone refrigerant monitor accurately detects more than 60 refrigerants down to an industry-leading 1 ppm? In fact, it’s the ideal solution for fixed refrigerant leak detection in grocery stores.
Repair Any Leaks Found Promptly
Well, that concludes this commercial refrigeration maintenance checklist for refrigerant leak prevention. Keep in mind that, if you do find a refrigerant leak throughout this process, you must repair it within the proper time period (which depends on your jurisdiction). You have 30 days to repair refrigerant leaks per EPA 608 and 14 days per CARB RMP. ∎
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What maintenance tasks do you find most beneficial in refrigerant leak prevention? Let us know in the comments below or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.