Conducting planned maintenance on refrigeration equipment is beneficial to both equipment owners and contractors. It reduces equipment breakdowns and helps maintain operational efficiency, as well as provides contractors with steady work that can be scheduled as needed. Conducting a maintenance inspection is generally a simple task. However, these simple tasks can turn into problems for a contractor if not done properly or without taking the necessary precautions to ensure the system is running in the same or better condition than before the inspection was started.
When conducting maintenance on refrigeration equipment, look out for situations than can lead to unnecessary repairs. This is different from finding repairs that are needed, which is one of the reasons for the inspection. But always take the necessary precautions to prevent additional repairs or time on the job.
If gauges were attached to an access port or service valve, always check for a refrigerant leak after removing the gauge. Many times the packing around older service valves or Schrader cores can leak. If left unchecked, this can lead to an unnecessary and expensive repair. It is also important to re-install any caps removed during the inspection or install new if missing. These caps can help prevent a loss of refrigerant and keep the port and valve usable for future repairs or inspections. Exposed stems or ports could rust and would then not be operable in the future.
If access panels were removed, be careful while reinstalling them. One time a technician was reinstalling a panel on a rooftop unit and the panel fell and put a hole in the rubber rooftop, which lead to an unnecessary roof repair.
If the temperature control was adjusted during the inspection, be sure to properly reset it, and if needed, verify the unit shuts off properly. Several times during inspections, I needed to go back to the job and readjust the temperature control because the case was either too cold or too warm — an unnecessary trip for me.
If you needed to shut off the system during the inspection, make sure you turn it back on before you leave. This might seem obvious, but you can be looking at many systems for a customer and get distracted during the inspection and forget to turn a system back on. This happened to a technician doing a maintenance inspection for us once. He was maintaining a walk-in cooler and did not turn it back on. The next day, we received a call that the cooler was not working and some product was lost — definitely an issue that could have been avoided if not for a careless mistake.
While cleaning a condenser or evaporator coil, if chemicals and water are used, be careful not to cause damage to any system component while rinsing the coil with water. One time I was cleaning a small condenser coil on a prep cooler and the electronic temperature control was to the right and under the coil. As I was rinsing the coil with a spray bottle, the water running off the coil ran into the controller and damaged it, leading to the control needing to be replaced.
Remember to be cautious during any maintenance inspection. Take the extra time to prevent unnecessary repairs so you can prevent these simple jobs from leading into problem jobs.