Where did the summer go? All across the province rinks have started their refrigeration systems and have put their ice in for another season. From now until spring, the last thing anyone wants is for their system to be down for any reason. In this article, we will review a few early season tips that can help ensure a trouble free operation.
Many rinks have renovations done to the refrigeration equipment over the summer months, and in the rush to get the ice in on schedule, forget to make a record of these changes. In the event of an equipment failure, it can save a lot of time if this information is readily available. Any drawing of the system should also be updated to reflect these changes. Ideally, a flow schematic (or piping and instrumentation diagram) should be posted in the equipment room as a quick reference.
Another important matter is to do a complete record of operating conditions. Besides the usual pressures and temperatures, have the amperage taken for each motor. Your refrigeration system is designed for making ice, and therefore, the beginning of the season is the best time to record this information. This can be compared to design conditions to identify p9otential problems, or can be used as a benchmark if there are any changes throughout the year.
Most rinks have an analysis done of their brine every year. This gives an accurate reading of the strength of the brine, rust inhibitor, pH, and other items such as levels of iron and suspended solids. It will also detect any presence of ammonia which can serve as an advance warning of a serious chiller failure. It is one thing to have the analysis done and 'know' what action should be taken, but it is another to actually correct any problems that may have been identified. Brine samples are often taken during the end of season shut-down and analysis results are usually reported over the summer. It is easy to put these on the back burner until the fall, or until the new budget year begins, but it is important that recommendations are implemented.
For rinks that have brine filtration systems, start-up is a good time to change your filter cartridge. These can be cleaned throughout the season, but with the amount of impurities that are removed over the course of the year, a new cartridge is usually recommended to ensure the brine is properly contained.
There are a number of items that every facility should have on hand to get them through the season. Most rinks keep an adequate supply of consumable items on hand, such as calcium chloride and oil, but there are other items that are seldom used which can be easily overlooked.