Have you checked the oil lately?
When HVACR business slows down, and we’re actually able to take a day off from pressing service and repair work, we get to do preventive maintenance. And with spring coming, pre-cooling-season preventive maintenance is what we do.

There is more that we could be offering.

We all know that we do preventive maintenance for a few simple reasons: to stay busy, generate revenue, and keep our customers’ units from failing when they need them the most.

One of the least expensive and most overlooked tests that can be provided during chiller preventive maintenance is oil testing. For less than $100, you can check oil viscosity, bearing wear, moisture, and oil filter efficiency according to particulate content, acidity, and lead.

Analysis Tool

“Lubricant analysis is an exceptional tool,” states Intertek Testing Services, ETL SEMKO. “It can peer inside a compressor and spotlight a developing problem.

“Changes in the operation of a compressor are reflected in the properties and makeup of its lubricating oil. Scheduled analysis of lubricants identifies problems before they cost your customer money.”

Additionally, Intertek asserts that lubricant analysis offers insight about the relative success of a compressor retrofit.

Refrigerant Oil Content

A second test that can be performed is refrigerant testing.

Did you know that you lose 2 percent of a unit’s efficiency when the refrigerant contains 1 percent oil or more? Therefore, the cleaner the refrigerant, the more efficient the unit will operate.

“High moisture content can contribute to acid production and ultimately a system failure,” states Intertek. “Acid harms the internal components of the system and breaks down the chemical makeup of the refrigerant and lubricant.”

The whole point of these tests is to help our customers. If you are proactive and offer these tests during your preventive maintenance, you may find that extra revenue you are looking for.

You will also make yourself look good to your customers, because you may prevent that breakdown during the oppressive heat of summer. And we all know the first thing our customers will say when that happens: “Why didn’t you catch that during the preventive maintenance?”

At ECMI, we offer oil and refrigerant testing kits from Intertek Testing Services, the lab of choice for the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI). These kits are simple to use and everything is prepaid so the results come straight to you.

Herberg is with Efficient Cylinder Management Inc. (ECMI), a Phoenix-based provider of EPA compliance products. He can be reached at 602-272-2776.

Publication date: 02/10/2003