Tips on Maintaining Your Chiller / Circulator
Maintenance is never fun -- but it's necessary. Just like a car, a laboratory- or industrial-grade chiller is a complex piece of machinery, and regular upkeep is required for enduring operation.
It's easy to forget to maintain lab equipment. The laboratory is a busy place, and it's natural to gradually regard appliances as background fixtures rather than as sensitive instruments. It's only when the unit begins to underperform or even malfunction that researchers undertake maintenance, by which point it may be too late to preserve the unit.
To prevent equipment failure, it's vital to perform regular upkeep. The tips below can help you maintain your chiller & circulator so that it performs to your standards for years to come.
Chiller / Circulator Maintenance
Bath fluid. This circulator component is frequently overlooked, and some technicians don't even know it's a concern! But bath fluid is to a chiller as oil is to a car: easy to address, but disastrous if continually ignored.
- The first step to bath fluid maintenance is to know your current fluid. What is the brand & model of the fluid currently in your chiller? This knowledge will help you quickly find your fluid's specifications.
- If you know the exact fluid, great. Now let's check the temperature range. Using the manufacturer's documentation or website, confirm the recommended temperature range of the fluid. Make sure your chiller's temperature during your application is within this temperature range. If needed, many modern circulators have settings you can use to force the chiller to operate within that range.
- Next, know your fluid's age. Much like automotive oil, bath fluid requires occasional replacement. If your bath fluid has been changed within the past year, great! But if your bath fluid hasn't been changed in over a year -- or you don't know how old your bath fluid even is -- then it needs changing. An annual fluid change is recommended by reputable manufacturers.
- Fourth, if your unit's fluid is water-immiscible, then check for condensation. When below ambient temperatures, some bath fluids (such as those based on hydrocarbons or silicone) produce moisture that can accumulate in the circulator. If it chills into ice, then the cooling ability and fluid flow of your unit can be greatly reduced. By inspecting your unit, you can find and drain any accumulated condensate.
- Last, check the bath fluid's color. Is it clear or opaque? If clear, good. But if it's opaque, then it could be contaminated by foreign material or even degraded from prolonged use. The only way to fix this is to drain the fluid, flush the unit, and fill it with fresh, new bath fluid.
By following the checks and solutions above, you can be sure that your chiller's bath fluid is on par. If you discover that you need new fluid, then follow your circulator manufacturer's official recommendations. You can order bath fluid online from brands like Huber, Julabo, and PolyScience.
Other maintenance tips
While bath fluid upkeep is far and away the most important factor in chiller / circulator endurability, here are a few other quick tips to keep your unit well-maintained:
- If your chiller is air-cooled, inspect your cooling vent. When dust accumulates, it prevents the unit from cooling adequately. It's recommended that you inspect and vacuum your unit's cooling vent every 3 months.
- If your unit is water-cooled, consider installing an in-line filter. Water -- especially unfiltered water -- can contain particulates that clog the channels in the chiller's heat exchanger. An in-line filter protects a water-cooled unit's temperature regulation.
- Create a fluid log. Fluid is too important to the operation of a chiller to be managed haphazardly. Record bath fluid maintenance dates, fluid types, and the safe temperature range in either a spreadsheet or a logbook near the chiller. This is a great way for a lab manager to delegate the task of fluid upkeep while still monitoring overall maintenance.
Healthy chiller, happy lab
Follow these maintenance tips to keep your chiller + circulator operating at full capacity for years to come.
If you'd like free advice & support on purchasing chillers, recirculators, or bath fluids, you can reach out to Growing Labs at email@example.com or 1-833-476-9420.