If you are in charge of temperature regulation in a building or as part of your livelihood, you have likely heard of glycol systems. These systems use a mixture of glycol and water to prevent freezing and keep things chilled, such as important machinery or the fermenting and storage equipment for wine. However, using a glycol system means that you will occasionally need to have it cleaned, and it is important for you to understand what is Glycol system cleaning and how that process works so that you can make informed decisions about your glycol system.
What Is A Glycol System?
A glycol system utilizes an organic compound called glycol, which belongs to the alcohol family. Glycol can be broken into two subcategories: ethylene glycol and propylene glycol. The ethylene variety is most commonly used as antifreeze in vehicles, and it is notorious for its slightly sweet taste. However, it can be toxic to humans, so you must use care if you rely on ethylene glycol.
In contrast, propylene glycol is commonly used in makeups and even foods as a stabilizer; it is non-toxic, so if you need to run a glycol system near items that will be consumed by people, it is a safer choice. It is also used in HVAC refrigeration.
In a glycol system, antifreeze (typically propylene glycol) is cooled and then pumped through tubing. Glycol’s freezing point is much lower than water’s at up to -60 degrees Fahrenheit, so it can get much colder than water and transfer that cold temperature to the areas impacted by the piping. This helps to keep important machinery or areas cold without the risk of your pipes freezing.
What Happens During A Glycol System Cleaning?
Initially, piping and equipment are shipped with oils greases and are not conducive to adding glycol. Adding glycol to a fouled system will lead to reduced life of the fluid and then reduced life of the system. Therefore, pre-cleaning, treatment and testing are required.
Over time, glycol can be reduced due to certain conditions, and become acidic, this will begin to degrade metal in any piping system. Your glycol system’s pipes may begin to corrode, or they may contain particles and solids that were introduced when the system was installed or modified last. It is important to clean a glycol system and retreat it to keep it working at peak performance and ensure the longevity of the pipes.
Glycol systems can continue to work for quite some time without maintenance, but you will receive the best longevity and effectiveness if you regularly keep up with your system’s needs. Allowing rust and corrosion to occur is a common cause for reduced efficiency in glycol systems. You may notice that your machinery or rooms are not reaching the same low temperatures that you achieved when you first started using glycol, or the cooling is inconsistent. All of these issues can be caused by a glycol system that needs to be cleaned and maintained. Performing regular maintenance is more cost-effective than replacing your system.
System Is Cleaned With Chemicals
First, your glycol system will be cleaned with chemicals. These chemicals will be selected based upon the unique needs of your system, but most commonly, they address corrosion issues and keep the pipes smooth on the inside. By reducing or removing corrosion deposits, the liquid in your piping will flow better and more smoothly, which creates a more effective cooling process. If your glycol is getting “stuck” on corrosion deposits, it will not capture heat and transfer its chilled temperature as effectively.
System Is Flushed To Keep Piping Clear
Following a chemical treatment in your glycol system, the next step is to flush the pipes. Some experts may choose to use a method called passivation to reduce the risk of rust; this relies on acid or caustic to strip materials from the inside your pipes so that they are more resilient to rust. Naturally, you will want to flush these treatment chemicals out of your pipes after they have done their job, so flushing your system is an important next step.
Contact The Glycol System Experts At Tower Water
If you are considering installing a glycol system, or if you need to perform some maintenance and cleaning on an already existing pipeline, it is not typically a job that you can do on your own. Instead, you should rely on experts who are experienced in installing and maintaining glycol systems.
Tower Water sets the standard in water treatment and would be happy to assist you in handling all of your issues with glycol systems. Reach out to schedule an appointment at a time that is convenient for you, and a skilled technician will come to speak with you. An expert can review your unique situation and make strategic recommendations to improve the lifespan and efficiency of a glycol system in your specific use case.
They can also recommend the correct ratio of glycol to water and provide information for improving your system, and they will be able to safely clean your system using chemicals so that you do not have to worry about the risks of doing so yourself.