At Paratherm, not only do we provide our customers with the highest quality heat transfer fluids, but we assure their continued functionality through simple, effective troubleshooting services. Paratherm customers receive technical support as a benefit of their fluid purchase. We sat down with Greg Jerdan, an employee who has been in technical sales with Paratherm for over eight years, to go over the process of troubleshooting.
The first step in the process, said Greg, is a phone interview, where we ask what kind of problem you are having (production problems, flow issues, heating issues, the heating process itself, or heating the oil specifically). This can tell us where the problem exists and whether the oil itself is bad or if there may be a carbon buildup in the heater.
Sometimes we can pinpoint a problem simply from this preliminary interview. For instance, there have been circumstances where we have been able to quickly recognize symptoms of flow restrictions and suggest possible remedies. That’s just one example.
If the potential problem doesn’t emerge from the first conversation, we recommend a fluid analysis. While some customers might initially turn this down, we highly recommend it as an easy—yet thorough—way to isolate and evaluate the several variables that may be causing the issue. Without testing the oil we can’t always confirm what’s going wrong with the oil or the process. We send the customer a fluid analysis kit that consists of everything needed to package and ship the sample, including instructions. Then they simply box it up, send it back to us, and we run tests on the oil.
Results of the tests (for Total Acid Number, Viscosity, and Distillation Range) are compared to values for new fluid. Differences between the new and used values, and interrelationships between those changes to the fluid, together with information from the system interview, can tell us much about what may be going wrong in the process.
Another troubleshooting service is a face-to-face walk-through, where we examine the system and look through all parts and equipment involved with the process itself, and make recommendations based on what we see; 9 times out of 10 we see something affecting the life of the oil. No matter what, our experts can always help determine the problem, the cause, and the solution.
What are some possible problems that can affect production, safety, and uptime?
- Heat uniformity: Cold spots in the system where heat transfer to the application has become compromised; most often it is because of carbon buildup.
- Flow fluctuations: May result from contamination (including water) or fluid degradation.
- Fouling: Due to oxidation or overheating of the oil; this is determined by the fluid analysis.
- Leakage: Leakage can also cause oxidation.
- Overheating: A lack of proper flow can shut down the pump and cause overheating inside the heater.
- Improper shutdown procedure: If the system is not shut down correctly, the fluid can get “cooked”; proper shutdown involves turning the heat off but keeping the pump on until the fluid temperature reaches below 200°F to prevent overheating.
- Contamination: 90% of the time, water is the contaminant; other contaminants include using the wrong type of fluid, including lube, hydraulic, or improperly marked fluids.
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