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.
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.
Why are quick-ships so important??
With winter already well upon us with various “polar-vortexes” swarming over most of the country, time is not on your side if your current supplier isn’t able to meet your needs. Generally speaking, most jobs require some form of “quick-ship“.
Approximately 70% of all Capital Coil’s orders over the last (3) months have involved some sort of quick-ship. Quick-ships are an integral part of Capital Coil’s overall business structure, and for that specific reason, unlike other manufacturers, Capital Coil & Air NEVER shuts down its quick-ships!!!
You can call the OEM, but more times than not, they are not flexible or nimble enough to handle your emergency within an acceptable time-frame. Whether you need a coil in (3) weeks, or (5) days, Capital Coil has got you covered.
Quick-ships are generally based on emergency conditions, and that is precisely the worst time to discover that your regular supplier has suspended their quick-ships. When we call Capital Coil reliable and dependable, one of the main reasons is because of our ability to keep our quick-ship program open 12 months/year.
Capital Coil does not try to be all things to all customers, but quick-ships are an integral part of our business. Keeping our quick-ship program available all year is a top priority, and this has allowed us to hit 99.9% of our quick-ship requests over the last (3) years. An unfortunate forklift mistake makes up the other .1%. Through the last 3 months of 2019, approximately 75% of all orders were quick-ships, and they have either all been completed on time, or are 100% on schedule.
So why do so many manufacturers seem to get so overwhelmed at some point every year? Many manufacturers take on a glut of OEM business, or other large projects with small profit margins. In many cases they do this simply to keep the factory running during the slower periods of the year. This has the effect of delaying standard lead times, and in many cases, cancelling quick-ships altogether. It is very hard to do business with companies that make themselves unavailable when you need them the most.
An RFQ that sits on a desk unanswered is useless to everyone involved. If you need a quote, you’ll have your price and any required submittals that same day. It really is that simple and easy! Working with Capital Coil removes many of the annoying and unannounced shut-downs that come with other manufacturers, so please let us help you when you need it the most!
Regardless if you have steam coils or steam distributing (non-freeze) coil, you can freeze ANY coil. When freezes happen, everyone immediately looks to the steam coil as the cause. When in fact, there are numerous reasons that must be looked at well before the coil.
Freezes generally happen in older systems, however if your new system is not maintained properly or correctly installed, your steam coil can and will freeze. For instance, you’d be surprised at how many times dampers are left open, controls fail, freezestats don’t work, etc.
In a Standard Steam or Steam Distributing Coil, a freeze-up can occur when condensate freezes within the tubes of the steam coil. The two most common reasons for freezing steam coils are the steam trap and the vacuum breaker. The function of steam trap is to remove the condensate as soon as it forms. Condensate usually collects in the lowest part of the coil. If your steam trap isn’t installed properly, that condensate will lay in the coil and it will inevitably freeze as soon as it sees outside air. The vacuum breaker also helps clear the condensate, minimizes water hammers, and helps with uneven temperatures. This must be installed on the control valve and always above the steam trap.
Unfortunately, there are no ways to determine exactly where your steam coil will freeze. And a common misnomer is that the condensate turns to ice and the expansion is what causes the tubes of the coil to pop. In reality, it’s the pressure that builds up between freeze points.
Here’s couple tips in your coil design that can help prevent your standard steam and steam distributing coils from freezing:
- Standard steam coils should NEVER see any outside air below 40 degrees. If it does, steam distributing is the only way to go!
- 5/8” OD Steam distributing coils over 72” long are recommended to have a dual supply
- 1” OD Steam distributing coils over 120” long are recommended to have a dual supply
- Make sure your steam coil is pitched if possible. This slopes the condensate to the return connection making it easier to remove the condensate
Give Capital Coil & Air a try on your next project. Our engineering, pricing and service is the best in the industry!
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
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!
Are your chilled water coils right hand or left hand? Are you looking into the face of the coil with the air hitting you in the back of the head? What exactly is counter-flow and why is it important? Are you completely confused by why right hand vs. left hand even exists? Most manufacturers probably do not know or understand the technical reasons themselves.
First, let’s figure out what coils even need a hand determination. Chilled Water Coils, Direct Expansion (Evaporator) Coils, and Condenser Coils are the only coils that need this figured on almost every job. Hot Water Coils, Booster Coils, and Steam Coils rarely need this determination! The reason for this is when the coils are only 1 or 2 rows deep, they can be flipped over. When a chilled water coil is 3+ rows deep, hand determination is much more important because it needs to be counter-flow. With most suppliers determining hand designation with the air hitting you in the back of the head….do you want the connections on the right or left?
You’ve probably heard the term “counter-flow” countless times, but here’s the simplest explanation. For peak performance, you want the air and the fluid traveling in opposite directions through the coil. Is it the end of the world if your coils are not counter-flow? The short answer is no, but you will lose anywhere from 12-15% of the output. So if your coils are piped incorrectly, don’t expect to get the full performance. Steam and hot water coils are 1 or 2 rows deep, so again, counter-flow is pretty much irrelevant. However, it can make a BIG difference with any chilled water or direct expansion coils (3-12) rows deep.
We also get asked many times “what is the proper way to pipe coils?” Put simply, steam coils should always be fed on the highest connection and the return on the lowest connection. Water coils should always be fed on the lowest connection and returned on the top connection to ensure that all of the tubes are are fed the same volume of fluid.
Hand designation and counter-flow are two pretty simple concepts when they are properly explained. When dealing with a HVAC coil manufacturer, 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 in handling pretty much any scenario that you may come across, so we want to be your coil resource for any and all projects. Please give us a try on your next job!
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!
1) Coils and counter-flow?
The first thing to remember about coils and counter-flow is that chilled water coils are always built to be piped in counter-flow. This means that the air flows in the opposite direction as the water. For example, with counter-flow, the air flows through rows 1-8, while the water runs through rows 8-1. Water always travels through the coil in the opposite direction of the air; hence the term “counter-flow.” Direct Expansion Coils (Evaporator Coils) are also piped in the same manner.
With that said, what happens when you do not pipe cooling coils counter-flow? Almost all coil selection programs you will see or use will be based on counter-flow conditions. If you opt to not counter-flow a chilled water coil, you’ll have to reduce the coil’s overall performance by a certain percentage. That percentage reduction varies based on each coil’s unique dimensions, but a reliable estimate is a loss of 8-12%. Simply piping the coils in the correct manner from the beginning would seem to be the easiest and most cost-effective solution.
2) Why do you feed from the bottom of the coil?
You always want to feed a water coil from the bottom connection so that the header fills from the bottom on up and feeds every tube connection evenly. All tubes must be fed evenly with the same amount of water. If you try to feed the header from the top, you greatly increase the risk of “short circuiting” the coil and having a higher water flow through the top tubes in the coil.
3) What is a Water Hammer in a Steam Coil?
On a long Steam Coil, you will be hard pressed to get the steam through the length of the coil. Slowly but surely, that steam converts into condensate, which is pretty much the worst thing that can happen to any system. If not evacuated, the condensate just lays in the coil when the system is shut off. This problem comes into play when the steam is turned back on and meets the condensate laying inside the coil. In addition to the noise, the steam and condensate cause huge amounts of additional stress on the coil’s joints. As a result, over time, your coil will inevitably fail.
4) What else happens if you do not evacuate condensate?
When you cannot or do not evacuate the condensate on long steam coils, the condensate ends up blocking the steam. A steam coil should never feel cool to the touch, but when condensate blocks steam, one part of the coil will be warm while the other will be cool. Again, that should not happen. Steam coils are interesting in that they are more dependent upon the system and installation than any other type of coil. A steam coil must be pitched to the return end of the coil. Obviously, steam is not water. Traps, vacuum breakers and other steam accessories must be installed and located properly for the system to function.
5) Is it necessary to pipe steam and/or hot water coils in counter-flow?
Simply put – no! Circuiting a coil is only necessary to ensure the connections are on the side of the coil that you want. The rows and tubes in the coil dictate how and where you feed, but the steam supply always needs to be the high connection. This method ensures that the leaving condensate is on the bottom of the coil and below the lowest tube within the coil. Whatever else you do, know that the condensate must leave the coil!
If you have any questions or need assistance with ordering and/or installation, please contact a sales engineer at Capital Coil & Air. We will walk with you step-by-step through your entire project should you require any assistance. CALL OR E-MAIL US! We look forward to the opportunity to work with you on your future projects.
Roughly 100% of HVAC OEM replacement coil shipments use some kind of trucking company or common carrier. There are occasions when the shipment is small enough to use UPS or FedEx, but the vast majority of HVAC shipments are sent by way of truck. Anyone who has frequently used freight companies has experienced damaged shipments and/or late arrivals. In our industry, these annoyances and inconveniences are typically written off as “the cost of doing business”. Think of the airline industry as an example. Our expectations have been reduced to point where we expect something to go wrong and are pleasantly surprised when the trip is smooth from start to finish.
Many folks might not know this, but even before the pandemic struck, the trucking industry in general had been experiencing a gross shortage of drivers throughout the country. Some estimates have put this shortage of drivers as high as 50,000 throughout the country.
So what does this shortage mean for the HVAC industry? Put simply, it translates into complications and confusion for all involved.
- Longer delivery times. For example, a delivery that used to take (3) days is now (5-7).
- One major reason for the longer delivery times is that trucks now have many more stops than in years past. There are also many instances of more trips through connecting terminals as well.
- More time on the truck usually equates to both “visible” and “hidden” freight damage.
- The shipments become harder to track, and with fewer people at the trucking companies doing more work, shipments can and will get lost entirely.
Because the freight process is at the very end of the OEM replacement coil buying cycle, Capital Coil & Air has developed some simple strategies for the entire buying process that should help in avoiding many of the annoyances listed above. We’ve also added a very useful “hint” to counter longer freight delivery times.
- Getting a price, delivery & accurate proposal from your vendor: Capital Coil responds to every quote request quicker than any of our competitors, and we are always willing to put that claim to the test. A (2) day delay in receiving your quote is the same as a (2) day freight delay on the back end.
- Receiving your submittal drawings in a timely fashion: You need to approve these drawings, so once again, how is a (2) day delay in receiving approval drawings any different than receiving your order (2) days late?
- Quick-Ships: As you’ve probably experienced numerous times in the past and/or present, other coil manufacturers seem to be consistently shutting down their quick-ship programs with little to zero notice for the customer. Why is this? Many manufacturers take on a glut of OEM replacement coil business, or other large projects with small profit margins. In many cases they do this simply to keep the factory running during the slower periods of the year. This has the effect of delaying standard lead times, and in many cases, cancelling quick-ships altogether. It is very hard to do business with companies that make themselves unavailable when you need them the most.
Capital Coil NEVER shuts down our quick-ship programs, and we emphasize NEVER! Over the last (2) years, CCA has hit approximately 99% of all quick-ship orders.
- Crating equipment to minimize freight damage.
- Shipping on time: Simply put, we consistently ship when we say we’re going to ship.
- Select a freight carrier that delivers to your area without interlining or stopping at several terminals: This is when freight damage is most likely to occur!
- Pay the carrier fee for a guaranteed delivery date: Although seemingly not well-known, most carriers offer a guaranteed delivery date for a fee of $50-$100. Paying the fee will ensure that your order is now a “priority”, and most freight companies schedule deliveries based on these “priorities” first. If both your order and delivery are critical and time-sensitive, Capital Coil can help you with exploring these delivery options.
Capital Coil & Air will work with you throughout the entire buying and shipping process because you as the customer, deserve to work with a hands on manufacturer that will not turn its back on you once the order has been placed. Please give Capital Coil a try on your next project!
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.
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!!