Sooner or later in the life of any thermal fluid system, the question of when to test the thermal fluid comes up. In some cases, the issue comes up when the system performance begins to falter or when it just flat out won't run. At that point, the issue of "when" or "if ever" the fluid has been tested is not as important as figuring out what went wrong, says Jim Oetinger, sales manager at Paratherm Corp., in W. Conshohocken, Pa.

Helping to pinpoint the cause of the failure is the hidden benefit of fluid monitoring since many equipment and/or operational problems that can lead to catastrophic fluid failure show up in the test results. So, before you find yourself attempting to predict when the system will be back online, here are some tips on when to test the thermal fluid.

    1. During the first year of operation for brand new systems. Any major screw-ups in the equipment design or layout that can affect the fluid will show up in the test results.

    2. A week or so after a fluid change. Even if you don't change brands, there will have been enough change in the old fluid properties that any residue will show up in the test results of the new charge.

    3. Annually. Scheduling an annual preventive maintenance check takes the guess work out of "when," and more important, keeps a current report on file for your insurance company.

How to test the fluid is another issue, Oetinger says.

Lube oil tests, which can spot dissolved metals and particles, are cheap but are not designed to identify changes in the properties required for high temperature operation. Outside labs may be able to run the correct tests but can't properly interpret the results.

The most effective test results are provided by the thermal fluid supplier. They have the experience with the fluid to interpret the test results and provide recommendations for improvements.

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Fluid Check at a Glance

Equipment and operation problems that lead to heat transfer fluid failure likely will show up in fluid test results. Here's when and how often you should perform a fluid check.

  • During the first year of operation for brand new systems. Problems with equipment design or layout affecting the fluid will show up in the test results.

  • A week or so after a fluid change. Residue from changes in the old fluid properties will show up in the test results of the new charge.

  • Annually. Keeps potential problems in check and provides a current file report for your insurance company.


For more information

Contact Paratherm Corp. Call (800) 222-3611 or visit www.paratherm.com.

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