Syracuse University Athletic Dome Renovation

Capital Coil & Air prides itself on its ability handle all jobs – large or small! We quote anywhere from 25-50 projects/day, and there is typically a very diverse mixture of equipment and overall size & scope of projects that need to be engineered and quoted. The majority of our business comes from repeat customers because they know that we treat every job and request with the same importance – regardless of size. Today’s newsletter highlights one of our largest jobs to date to illustrate the fact that Capital Coil has the ability handle any job…no matter the size and scope.

Capital Coil has long understood that your businesses and customers depend on fast responses, fast engineering, fast shipping, and top-quality products. Again, whether it’s (2) small hot water duct-coils that you need overnighted, or banks of chilled water coils, Capital Coil wants you as our customer to be satisfied that you got a “fair-deal” with us on each and every job.

The Syracuse University Dome (SU Dome), in Syracuse, NY is currently being renovated at a cost of $205 million. The old roof was air-inflated/supported and is being replaced with an updated design-frame roof. As part of the total renovation, the building is also changing out it bathrooms, Wi-Fi, LED lighting, and entire HVAC system. As part of the renovation, Capital Coil was asked to build (64) chilled water coils as a part of the air conditioning renovation project.Capital Coil

Modular Comfort Systems, located in Syracuse, contacted Capital Coil & Air during the planning and budgeting phase of this project. Modular Comfort Systems is a large and highly respected HVAC Representative in central New York State. After purchasing coils from CCA, they re-sold those same coils, as well as other HVAC equipment to the also very highly respected Burns Bros. Mechanical Contractors – also located in Syracuse. Burns Brothers has been working in HVAC, plumbing and process piping for more than 100 years. Both of these companies are the types of companies that Syracuse University would entrust with such an important and high-profile job.

Capital Coil built (64) free-standing chilled water coils in sizes ranging from (33” x 93”) – (33” x 118”). All (64) coils are (8) rows with 304 stainless steel casing, increased tube wall thickness of .035”, with connections built and oriented at 90 degrees to facilitate ease of piping. The coils have all been highly engineered and are exactly correct for this application/project. Each coil weighs over 1,000 lbs, so Capital Coil split up the total order into (2) separate shipments, two weeks apart, in order to help the contractor receive the delivery.

The point of this case-study is to show how proud Capital Coil & Air is to have been tasked with building coils for such a high-profile project. Capital Coil is also proud to have worked with professional organizations like Modular Comfort Systems and Burns Brothers Mechanical. But regardless of the size of the project, you’ll receive the same attention and support as anyone else who reaches out for our assistance. Please contact us as we look forward to working with you on your next project!!

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Why are HVAC Coils Copper Tube and Aluminum Fin?

Chilled Water CoilsIt’s really not a coincidence why HVAC coils use copper tubes and aluminum fins. Copper is great for heat transfer, and aluminum – while still very effective -is simply not as good. The first goal of any HVAC coil is to cool or heat. Heat transfer is always the first consideration. Cost is the second. Copper works well for the tubes, but would be prohibitive for the fins. You would need a compelling reason for the fins to be copper, and sometimes there are reasons to do just that. However, the vast majority of HVAC coils that you see are built with copper tubes and aluminum fins. That combination offers the most effective heat transfer at the most efficient cost. 

To begin, fins are responsible for a surprising 65% – 70% of the heat transfer on any coil, while tubes are responsible for the remaining 30% – 35%. Additionally, in order for your coil to work at optimum performance, you need to have a terrific fin/tube bond. Fins are known as secondary surface, while tubes are referred to as primary surface. While this may seem counterintuitive, the secondary surface is responsible for twice the amount of heat transfer as the primary surface.

The tubes are expanded into the fins, and for that reason, the fins become secondary. As mentioned above, the fins are responsible for 65% – 70% of all heat transfer that takes place in the HVAC coil.  When you think about it logically, it really makes sense. At 8 fins/inch or 10 fins/inch, and with fins that run the height and depth of the coil, there is much more fin surface than tube surface. However, it also points out how good the fin/tube bond must be in the expansion process. Without that bond, the fins cannot perform their job.

Understanding the role and importance of the materials used in HVAC coils cannot be overstated. There is a distinct reason why the vast majority of coils are constructed using these materials. While coils can be built with other tube materials, such as steel, 304/316 stainless steel, 90/10 cupro-nickel, as well as various different fin materials, none of these are as efficient or economical as copper/aluminum.

Capital Coil & Air is here to help you with any and all coil selections, and we look forward to working with you on your next project.

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Top 10 Tips For Measuring HVAC Coils

1. When measuring HVAC coils, performance has very little to do with accurately measuring for replacement coils. Fitting the coil in the existing space with the least amount of labor has everything to do with measuring a coil.  If you duplicate the coil in almost every respect, the performance will match and take care of itself.  New is always more efficient than old.

2.  If you’re ever in doubt about a dimension, smaller is always better than bigger. You can always “safe off” around any coil as long as you can fit it in the space.  If a coil is too big, it makes a really ugly coffee table in your shop.  Too big is the enemy of measuring coils.

Chilled Water Coil

3.  The fin height and fin length are not the determining factors in measuring a coil. The overall casing dimensions are the most important, and you work backwards to determine fin dimensions.

4.  The depth of any coil is the total casing depth in the direction of airflow. The height is the number of tubes high in any row.  Depth is a function of rows deep and height is a function of tubes in a row.

5.  Overall length (OAL) is not the fin length and it’s not the casing length. It is the length from the return bends to include the headers that are inside the unit.  Again, it is necessary to work backwards to get the other dimensions once you know this critical dimension.

6.  Circuiting is the number of tubes connected to the supply header. Generally, you just want to count the number of tubes connected to the header and that will tell you whether it’s full, half, or even a double circuit.  It does not matter how the return bends are configured.  Your goal is to count the number of supply tubes and all performance is based on that.

7.  Fins are measured in fins per inch. Hold a tape measure up to the coils and count the number of fins in one inch.  If you can’t get in to take the measurement, a safe rule of thumb is 10-12 fins/inch.  That will work on almost every coil.  The exception to that rule is a condenser coil.  14-16 fins/inch on a condenser coil is usually pretty safe.

8.  Connection locations are difficult only if you are using the existing piping in the system (which are welded). Copper piping is brazed and can be changed easily.  If a system is old and the piping is being replaced as well as the coil, the connection location is not a major deal.  It’s very easy to match up!

9.  With replacement coils, the concept of “left hand vs. right hand” doesn’t actually exist. Connections are “top left-bottom right” or vice versa.  Ideally, all coils should be counter-flow which means that the water and air flow in opposite directions.  The air hits row one first and the water is piped into row eight first.  However, there are lots of installations that are piped backwards, and they work just fine.  Just match them up, and the coil’s performance will be equal to the old coil.

10.  Connections are not measured from the top of the header! They are measured from the top of the casing to the centerline of the connection.  Or the bottom of the casing to the centerline.  You need a point of reference, and the header height can be anything just as long as it doesn’t stick above or below the casing height.

 

All of the above “suggestions” or “secrets” are in no particular order.  They are just things that you should know to ensure that you are selecting the correct replacement coil. While most seem like common sense, your best bet is to talk with the sales team at Capital Coil & Air, who can walk your through the entire process and help you to fill out coil drawings when trying to measure the dimensions.

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HEATING SEASON WILL SOON BE UPON US

The real ability and competency in selecting hot water coils or any other heating coil is to know and understand the products that are available. Our goal here is to help simplify your selection process. Just as you’d spend time researching cars before a purchase, you want to be as educated of a buyer as possible!Hot Water Coil

HOT WATER COILS

The HVAC industry classifies coils as “Hot Water” if they are (1) or (2) rows deep, and “Chilled Water” if the coil is (3) to (10) rows deep. One important fact to remember is that whether the water is hot or cold, a water coil is still just a water coil. Just because you do not need as many rows for hot water applications, all water coils are built the same. Tubes can be 5/8 ” copper or 1/2 ” copper, and water can travel through the coil’s tubes at temperatures up to 200˚F. Capital Coil’s selection program is very user-friendly and can greatly assist in your selection process.

STANDARD STEAM COILS

While steam coils look very similar to water coils, the construction and circuiting of the coil are usually very different. Specifically, the brazing for the tubes and headers has a higher percentage of silver solder in the brazing. The tubes are generally thicker (.025”), and the circuiting of the coil minimizes the passes to allow for easy condensate removal. Unless you have (2) PSI or (5) PSI steam, hot water coils and steam coils are not interchangeable! Steam pressure is extremely important to take into account.

STEAM DISTRIBUTING COILS  “NON-FREEZE”

The construction of a “non-freeze” coil is completely different than that of a water coil or standard steam coil. Steam Distributing coils are manufactured as a tube within a tube. This application should always be used when the entering air temperature on a coil is 40˚F or below. There are (2) types of designs for steam distributing coils. They can be constructed with 5/8” (outer-tube) / 3/8” (inner-tube)  &  1” (outer-tube) / 5/8” (inner-tube).  A Capital Coil sales rep is always available to help with proper selections.

HOT WATER BOOSTER COILS

Hot water booster coils are primarily used in duct applications for reheat purposes. In addition to hot water, booster coils can also be used for low pressure steam. The best part is that Capital Coil has a standard (1) week lead time for booster coils. We value speed and quality as much as you.

Capital Coil manufactures all of the above for whatever heating application you may need. All coils are also available on our quick-ship program – if you need your coil built in 3, 5, or 10 days. Capital Coil & Air welcomes the chance to work with you, and be your source for quick answers and immediate service. Please give us a call on your next project!

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Guidelines For Air Velocities

The height, length and resulting air velocities greatly figure in everything in determining the size and performance of a coil. Step # 1 in determining the size and performance of a coil is dependent upon understanding face & air velocities of air across the coil. Whether you use CCA’s coil selection program to help size the coil, or you are replacing an existing coil; the height, length and resulting velocity determine everything.

Hot Water Booster Coils

Air Velocities

Every coil has a specific, optimum velocity, so you want to make sure you are within 30% (+ or -) of that number. For example, booster coils have an optimum velocity of 800 ft/minute. That means that you can drop your velocity to 600 ft/minute, or conversely, increase the velocity to 1,000 ft/minute. The duct velocities are almost always higher, which means that you will need to transition to a larger coil. Try to get to as close to 800 ft/minute as possible, while sizing your coil to make the transition as easy as possible. Everything with coils is a balancing act.

Hot Water & Steam Coils

Like booster coils, hot water and steam coils should also have face velocities at approximately 800 ft/minute. Both steam & hot water coils have only sensible heating, which is why their face velocities can be the same. Face velocities ultimately control the coil’s cost, so 800 ft/minute really is a heating coil’s “sweet spot”.

If you are purchasing an air handler unit, oftentimes the heating coil is smaller than the cooling coil because the face velocities on heating coils can exceed those of cooling coils. Due to water carry-over, cooling coils cannot exceed 550 ft/minute, while heating coils only deal with sensible heat.

Chilled Water & DX Coils

Due to the limited face velocities of cooling coils, your choices are more limited. With cooling coils, your face velocity must be somewhere between 500 ft/minute-550 ft/minute. Remember that when dealing with cooling coils, you are dealing with both sensible and latent cooling, so the coil is wet. When you exceed 550 ft/minute, water carry-over occurs past the drain pans.

If you are purchasing an air handler unit, you probably will not have worry about the coil’s face velocity as most coils come pre-sized at the acceptable face velocities. Fan coils also come pre-sized with the correct CFM’s. However, if you are replacing an existing cooling coil, the face velocity must remain at or below 550 ft/minute!!

 Air Stratification Across The Coil

Air does not travel equally across the face of a coil. If you were to divide a coil into (9) equal sections, like a tic-tac-toe board, you would see a high percentage of air travelling through the center square, rather than the corner squares. In a perfect air flow scheme, 11% of the air would travel through each of the 9 squares, but that is not what happens. Because more air travels through the center of the coil, you want to avoid putting a fan too near the coil. Due to central air flows, most systems are draw-thru, rather than blow-thru. This is also why you want to avoid installing your coil near any 90 degree angles/turns in the ductwork. Avoid any situations that contribute more than the “natural” air stratification to help ensure your coil is at maximum efficiency.

In some situations involving cooling coils, you will have water carry-over even when the coil is sized correctly. How can this happen? Think about the tic-tac-toe board again. Air velocities are exceeding 700 ft/minute in the coil’s center, while the corners are around 300 ft/minute. This cannot and will not work.

Coils do not have any moving parts. They simply react to the air across the outside of the coil and whatever is running through the inside of the coil. Coils are 100% a function of your entire system, as well as the installation in general.

Capital Coil & Air is here to help with any coil selections that will help avoid costly missteps that lead to wasted time and money. Call us on your next project, we greatly look forward to working with you!

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Why Is Fin Design On HVAC Replacement Coils Important?

Replacement HVAC Coils

At first glance, fin designs on HVAC replacement coils seem about as exciting as watching grass grow. “Why would I ever care about fin design on any coil” was probably your initial response to our question. Nevertheless, we would not dedicate a newsletter to this subject if fins were not important.

One of the primary reasons fins are so important is that you want to keep your coil as clean and maintained as possible. In order to properly maintain your coil, you need to have an understanding as to how HVAC replacement coils are constructed. While fins do not look like much, they are MUCH more complicated than what you can observe at the entering or leaving airside of the coil.

To begin, fins are responsible for a surprising 65% – 70% of the heat transfer on any coil, while tubes are responsible for the remaining 30% – 35%. Additionally, in order for your coil to work at optimum performance, you need to have a terrific fin/tube bond, (which we will discuss below).

  1. Fins are known as secondary surface, while tubes are referred to as primary surface. While this may seem counter-intuitive, the secondary surface is responsible for twice the amount of heat transfer as the primary surface.
  2. There are special dies (see picture) that stamp out aluminum or copper fins with the correct thickness, height, and depth to make the coil the correct size. For example, a coil might be 36” (height) x 96” (length) x (8) rows deep x 8 fins/inch.
    1. Fin Height: 36”
    2. Fin Depth: 12”, (8) rows deep
    3. # of fins in the coil: 768 (8 fins x 96”)
  3. Each fin has 192 holes stamped in the fin for 5/8” OD tubes (8 Rows x 24 Tubes), and each fin is identical.
  4. Each hole has extruded metal, which is more commonly referred to as the fin collar. The collars are sized to self-space the fins and allow for later expansion of the tube into the fin collar. This practice is also known as “bonding” and is essential to having your coil run efficiently/correctly.
  5. Each fin is rippled at the entering and leaving edge of the fin to help create air turbulence.
  6. Each fin is corrugated in the direction of airflow to allow for greater air turbulence. This is important to remember because turbulence creates heat transfer.

So again, what is the point of understanding the importance of fins in HVAC coils? While coils can be built with flat fins for various reasons, the vast majority of coils are built with enhanced fins. Enhanced fins help to ensure that the airflow is not running straight through the coil.

Regardless of fin type, keep in mind that HVAC coils can and will act as great “filters”. The tubes are staggered and not in-line; while the fins are designed to help break up the airflow and not facilitate an easy, straight-through air path. Dirt and/or other particles in the air get caught easily, which again, is why coils can act as great filters. Additionally, coils with more rows will usually get dirtier than coils with less rows. Lastly, chilled water or DX coils are typically wet coils, which results in them catching virtually everything in the air.

The amount of BTU’s through any coil is in direct proportion to the amount of air through the coil. For example, if you are only getting 90% of the design air through the coil, then you are only getting 90% of the BTU’s.

Coils require good filtration and periodic maintenance. If not done correctly, you’ll pay the price of higher energy costs on an inefficient coil.

By now, you have hopefully come to the realization that HVAC coils are much more complicated than they appear, and that fins are an integral part of the coil as a whole. Again, while admittedly not the most exciting topic, understanding the role and importance of fins in HVAC coils cannot be overstated. Capital Coil & Air is here to help you with any and all coil selections, and we look forward to working with you on your next project.

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What Does “Splitting” A DX (Evaporator) Coil Mean?

“Splitting” a DX (Evaporator) coil is one of the toughest concepts to understand in the coil business. “Splitting” the coil simply means that (2) compressors can operate off of the same coil. One obvious advantage, or reason that you might “split” a DX coil is that you can shut down (1) of the compressors when the cooling load does not require it. This in turn saves energy, which saves $ when the cooling load is not operating at maximum design conditions. For example, let’s use a coil that is designed to give you (40) tons, but the coil is split so that (2) 20-ton compressors are feeding the same coil. If you only require ½ of the maximum load on any given day, you can shut down (1) compressor completely and operate the other one at 100%. This is a money-saving feature that you need to be aware of if you deal with DX coils on a regular basis. This requires special circuiting arrangements, and this is where the confusion starts with most folks. There are three primary ways to deal with this:

FACE SPLIT

Splitting the coil is nothing more than putting (2) completely separate fin/tube packs (coils) into one common casing. When you hear the term “face-splitting” a coil, you are drawing a horizontal line from left to right across the face of the coil and dividing the coil into a top and bottom half. It is like having two separate coils in one casing in that each half is circuited by itself. You hook up (1) compressor for the top half, and (1) compressor for the bottom.

In practice, this configuration is no longer used with much frequency because this arrangement leads to air being directed across the entire face of the coil. This disadvantage is especially apparent when only one half of the coil is in use because you’ll need a complicated damper/duct system to ensure that air is only directed to that portion of the coil in operation.

Row Split

“Row splitting” a coil is dividing the coil by drawing a line vertically and putting some portion of the total rows in (1) circuit, while putting the remaining rows in the other circuit. With this configuration, the air passes across the entire face of the coil, and will always pass across the rows that are in operation.

Please be aware that this configuration also comes with certain issues in that this kind of split makes it very hard to achieve a true 50/50 split. Let’s use an (8) row coil as an example. You would like to “row split” this coil with (4) rows/circuit, which would appear to be a perfect 50/50 split. The problem here is that the first (4) rows, located closest to the entering air, pick up a much higher portion of the load than the last (4) rows. In actuality, this coil’s split is closer to 66% / 34%, which will not match the 50/50 compressors. Another option is try to split the coil between (3) & (5) rows. While not 50/50 either, this configuration is closer. However, a new challenge arises because you have now created a coil that is very difficult to build and correctly circuit. In short, you need almost perfect conditions along with a degree of luck to achieve a true 50/50 split using this method.

Intertwined Circuiting

The most common to split coils today is to “intertwine” the circuiting. This means that every alternate tube in the coil is included in (1) circuit, while the other tubes are included in the (2nd) circuit. For example, tubes 1, 3,5,7,9, etc. in the first row are combined with tubes 2, 4, 6,8,10, etc. in the second row. The same tubes in succeeding rows form (1) circuit. You are essentially including every alternate tube in the entire coil into (1) circuit, which (1) compressoDX (Evaporator) Coilsr will operate. All of the remaining tubes not included in the first circuit will now encompass the second circuit.

The advantage of this configuration is that the air passes across the entire face of the coil, and, if one of the compressors is on, there are always tubes in operation. Every split is now exactly 50/50 because it cannot be any other way. Most DX coils are now configured in this manner due to these advantages.

Capital Coil & Air has years of experience measuring, designing and building almost every OEM DX coil that you’ll come across, so please let us help you on your next project. We want to be your replacement coil experts and look forward to the opportunity.

 

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Do You Need to worry about performance on replacement HVAC coils?

With replacement HVAC coils, performance is almost never the issue. This is a common mistake that a lot of folks make. When duplicating a coil, your efforts need to be directed towards making sure the coil fits correctly, as that’s usually the main issue. While you may be thinking that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, here are the main reasons:

  • Coils were never intended to be filters, but that’s exactly what they become over time. For those that routinely work with coils, you know its design is tailor-made for the collection of dirt and Water Coilother air particles The tubes are staggered, which means that dirt can not get through. The fins are rippled and corrugated, which typically leads to the same result. Wet coils tend to collect more dirt than dry coils. The process of cleaning coils is very difficult, and the deeper the coil, the more difficult it is to clean. The end result, depending on the age, maintenance and operation, means that your coils operate anywhere from 50%-70% of their maximum efficiency.
  • Fins do approximately 70% of the work in a coil, with the tubes making up the remaining 30% (generally). When manufactured, the tubes are expanded into the fin collars. But, over time, the fins tend to loosen a little. While not sliding back and forth, the fins lose efficiency and their performance is lessened.
  • So what’s your typical solution after 5, 10 or 15 years? You’d probably raise or lower the water temp on you coil. You might also speed up the drive to get more CFM across the coil. You’ll try most anything to make up for the loss of the coil’s efficiency. Everybody does.
 

But when you replace the coil, it’s new and clean. Additionally, with a new fin/tube bond, your new coil is operating at 100% efficiency, while the old coil was working at 60% – 70% efficiency…maybe. With this automatic increase in efficiency means that performance is not really the issue. Your main concern should be that the coil fits in the space available. Otherwise, your new coil is nothing more than an ugly, metallic coffee table.

Your main goal is to replace your coils with as little trouble and cost as possible. While you may still have offsets in piping, as well as other small installation adjustments, performance should be the least of your worries. We’re here to help you meet your requirements quickly and easily.  CALL OR E-MAIL US!  We look forward to the opportunity to work with you on your future projects.

 
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Top 5 Reasons Commercial HVAC Coils Prematurely Fail

Capital Coil & Air has come across virtually every scenario over the years in which a commercial HVAC coil had to be prematurely replaced, and we have since created an easy guide targeting the main reasons HVAC Coils prematurely fail.

  • Coil Plugging: If you are not changing filters and/or your commercial HVAC coils are not properly cleaned in a timely manner, your coil will actually begin to act as a filter. When dirt builds up on the coil, that blockage prevents heat transfer and can cause an approximate 20% to 40% drop in performance. Dirt adds to the coil resistance and can be a primary cause for your coil to fail prematurely.
  • Vibration: When your HVAC coils are installed near a moving piece of equipment, vibration can occur and cause leaks. You can tell if vibration is the main cause if leaks are near the tube sheet and look like they are slicing through the tube. If/when that happens, the coils should be isolated from the rest of the system to prevent vibration from causing damage. One way to combat this is by oversizing the tubesheet holes, but many manufacturers will not do this. Condenser Coils are usually the most common victims of vibration.
  • Corrosive Environment: This applies to both the air in the environment and inside the tubes. For instance, if there is a corrosive element in the air, it will eat away at the copper tubes; whether you have 0.020” wall or 0.049” wall. This is very common in coastal areas where there may be salt in the air. To keep the costs down from going to a stainless steel or cupro-nickel coil, we usually suggest coating the HVAC coils. Coatings are almost always within your budget, and its application will only add about a week to the overall lead time. Steam condensate and untreated water can cause corrosion within the tubes of HVAC coils as well. If you have a steam coil that has failed before the one year warranty, there’s a great chance that corrosive agents are in the steam, and it’s eating away at the copper tubes.
  • Freeze-Ups: Most people think that when HVAC coils freeze, the water or condensate laying in the coil freezes into ice and it expands causing the tubes to bulge and eventually spring leaks. What really happens is that the coil will freeze in multiple areas simultaneously, and it’s the pressure between these areas that cause the tubes to swell and eventually burst. These are very easy to spot as the leaks will run the length of the tube rather than around the tube.  ALSO be very careful when considering “freeze-proof” coils!  If you remove 5-6 inches from the fin length to make the “freeze-proof” application fit, your coil’s performance will suffer considerably. 
  • System Design: You would be amazed to learn how many HVAC coils were never designed properly for their systems. If there is a design problem, replacing the coil will only waste time and money; while you have done nothing other than duplicate the previous problem. A little known fact in the replacement market is that a high percentage of all our projects are because the coils were built incorrectly or were never designed correctly in the first place. In some cases, owners attempt to improve the coil’s performance by adding additional rows. Most however do this without taking into account the air pressure drop or fluid pressure drop that comes with it.

When dealing with an HVAC coil manufacturer, try to partner up with one who will walk you through the engineering and explain it along the way. Capital Coil & Air has well over a decade of experience and can help you diagnose whatever problem that you are experiencing correctly the first time. We look forward to working with you on your next project!

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OEM Replacement Coils: Repair or Replace???

When considering OEM replacement coils, there are multiple reasons why coils can fail prematurely. Sometimes, OEM Coils simply freeze and can never be repaired. Other times, the coil was selected incorrectly, which in turn, made the coil significantly underperform. Many times, there is substantial corrosion or something else in the system that causes the coil to fail. However, most coils, when selected correctly, and in systems that are properly maintained, can last anywhere from 10-30 years!  10-30 years is also a pretty wide range, and there are many variables in how long you can expect a coil to perform. Factors, such as ongoing maintenance, air quality, and water/steam quality all have an effect on a coil’s lifespan.

OEM Replacement Coils

Reasons Why Coils Fail Of Old Age

  • While the coil’s tubes are considered the primary surface, 70% of all coil performance is performed by the finned area on a coil, which is known as the secondary surface. The fin/tube bond is easily the most important manufacturing feature in any coil. Without the bond between the tubes and fins, the coil could never properly function. Like all things however, over time the fin/tube bond becomes less efficient with constant expansion and contraction. While the construction of the coil, as well as the fin collars, does not allow the fins on the coil to move, that fin/tube bond naturally weakens a coil’s life over time after installation. Because of this, it is not a stretch to say that a coil is easily 30% less efficient after (20) years.
  • Cleaning coils often pushes dirt to the center of the coil, and this occurs even more so on wet cooling coils. Just remember that coils can become great air filters if not properly maintained. The BTU output of any coil is in direct proportion to the amount of air going through the coil. If you decrease the CFM by 20%, you are also decrease the BTU’s by 20%!
  • Cleaning agents often corrode aluminum fins. Since every square inch of fin surface matters in performance, corrosion of the fin surface is always detrimental to the coil’s performance.
  • Many times, there are coil leaks simply because of old age. No coils are immune to erosion. You might find the brazing in the tubes, as well as the brazing in the header/tube connections failing over time. Steam can be both erosive and corrosive under higher pressures. Water travels through the coil at 2 – 5 ft/second, so erosion is an enormous part of coil failure, regardless of how well-maintained. Erosion is always there, whether you realize it or not.
  • Water/steam treatment and the corrosive effects of bad steam/water can all be causes of coil failure…which then necessitates the need for a reliable manufacturer for OEM replacement coils.

So What Is The Solution?

Some coils can last 5 years, and some coils can last 30 years. As you have read, there are numerous factors that contribute to a coil’s life. In the end, there will most likely have been multiple attempts to repair that coil to make it last as long as possible. The depressing news is that most of these “Band-Aid” attempts do not work well. The most likely outcome is that you are buying a new coil anyway, so why waste the time and money on a temporary solution?

Coil failure is a “pressure event”, which is a fancy way of saying that a coil is leaking. We’ve listed some of the most common repair methods that you are likely to come across:

  • Drop leaking tubes from the circuit: Keep in mind however that every dropped tube reduces the coil’s performance by triple the surface area of the tube that is dropped. Again, while ok in the short-term, this is simply another “Band-Aid” fix. Over time, your energy costs will rise exponentially, and you will probably end up buying a new coil anyway.
  • Braze over the existing braze: As mentioned above, erosion has caused the original braze to fail, so all that you are really doing is pushing the pressure to another braze, which will then begin to fail as well.
  • High Pressure Cleaning: This method bends the fins, further restricts the airflow, and pushes dirt more to the center of the coil, which can never be adequately cleaned.

The real reason why coils need to be replaced rather than repaired is due to energy costs. If your coil is not operating near desired levels, you’ll need to increase the energy to make it work at its peak performance. Energy increases might be slight at first, but they are guaranteed to continue to rise over time. For example:

  • Somebody adjusts the fan drive for higher speeds, higher CFM’s and higher BTU’s.
  • Someone adjusts the boiler; the water and steam temperatures are higher.
  • Someone adjusts the chiller (1) degree higher for colder water to the chilled water coil.

Whichever method is used, performance begins to suffer and adjustments to the system occur. These adjustments cost energy efficiency and ultimately, money!

If you have ever experienced repairing a coil, then you know it is labor intensive and typically will not work as a permanent solution. With very few exceptions, repairs should be seen as nothing more than temporary until you’re able to replace that coil!

Capital Coil & Air has seen every “repair” method used, as well its inevitable outcome, so instead of putting yourself through that, call Capital Coil and allow us to be your coil replacement experts.

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