The warm months are upon us. No longer do we have to prepare ourselves with coats because of frigid temperatures. For the HVAC industry, the spring months are busy as we begin preparing units for summer with routine maintenance and cleaning. Proper maintenance on HVAC units can help improve operating efficiency while ensuring there are no surprise issues that could cause breakdowns. Increased downtime can be problematic for commercial businesses that need their HVAC systems working effectively throughout the year.
To maximize HVAC performance as the summer months approach, it is important to protect coils. When it comes to combating corrosion, coatings are the best solution. Coating solutions are geared toward protecting the heat exchanger in HVAC units and are applied either at the factory, during installation, or after installation. These coatings prevent corrosive agents found in heavy industrial or coastal areas from negatively impacting your HVAC unit and its components.
For areas along the coastline, the environment plays a major role in HVAC maintenance. In coastal areas, air conditioning is typically needed year-round. In addition, these units are more susceptible to corrosion because of the salty air that is associated with coastal environments. Heavy industrial pollution can also be a catalyst for corrosion. These salts and industrial gases attack unprotected coil fins, which are commonly made from thin aluminum sheet metal that is highly susceptible to corrosive agents.
Strategies for Coating Coils
For contractors, some strategies can be utilized to better protect HVAC coils. The best and most effective option is to specify OEM, factory, e-coated coils in the project if it can be done upfront. The e-coating process is an engineered process that can be repeated. No matter how thin or thick the heat exchanger is or how densely it is packed, the ElectroFin process allows for 100% complete penetration and uniform deposition of the coating through the coil. This thin film coating will not affect heating efficiency.
While factory e-coated coils are the best defense against corrosion, we recognize that many times it isn’t available because units are being pulled out of distribution warehouses. That’s where aftermarket products can be used. The aftermarket products have a robust, synthetic, multi-polymer resin backbone that is suitable for most environments and will maintain its appearance after many years of exposure to the elements.
Spray-on coatings also come in a variety of offerings depending on the contractors’ needs. Antimicrobial coil coatings inhibit the growth of bacteria, molds, fungi, and other microbes while delivering long-lasting antimicrobial protection for a wide range of HVAC applications. Circuit shield corrosion-resistant coatings are specifically designed for the protection of circuit boards that are used in outdoor environments and helps protect service equipment circuit boards from early default. It also protects against vermin, such as geckos, that commonly damage circuit boards. These are just two examples of spray-on coating options available through companies such as RectorSeal.
Maintenance and Cleaning
One of the most vital measures that needs to be taken to ensure maximum operating efficiency is proper maintenance of the coils once they are coated. Contractors need to set up a schedule that incorporates ongoing cleaning and maintenance for the coating to remain intact. When we see failures, either coating failures or coil failures, it’s often because an owner doesn’t do any maintenance, or they are just rinsing the coils with water. Owners should not use high-pressure water, such as pressure washers, to clean coils because it can damage the fins and the protective coatings on the coils. It is also strongly advised to not make contact with the coil using a hard object, such as a hose or vacuum nozzle. These objects or tools can cause mechanical damage to the coil material and protective coating as well.
It’s vital to note that using water, in general, isn’t enough. Whether it’s bare metal or coated metal, you must use the proper cleaner that is safe for the metal or coating. Coated and uncoated coils should be cleaned at least once every six months, more often in direct coastal and industrial settings, to ensure the integrity and designed operating efficiency of the coils is maintained.
To ensure your HVAC unit operates at maximum efficiency, you have to make sure your coils are protected against the environment. Heat exchangers are affected by the environment they operate in. When situated in coastal areas or heavy industrial places, corrosion will be problematic for untreated heat exchangers. The aluminum and copper in HVAC units are highly susceptible to corrosive agents such as chloride ion concentrations. Corrosion can negatively affect the efficiency of the unit, so coil coatings are a must. Whether you opt for factory-installed e-coat or aftermarket products, coatings need to be applied to protect your investment. In addition, make it a point to provide regular maintenance and cleaning for the coils. This will maintain the integrity of the coils and the coating. If maximum efficiency is the goal for hotter months, use the proper coating and maintenance strategy to keep your coils efficient for the next 10 years.