TOP 10 FAN COIL FAQ’S

1. A fan coil is among the easiest units to understand in the HVAC industry.  Basically, there is a small forward curved fan, a coil, and sometimes a filter.  They are all direct drive units. Click HERE to see Capital Coil’s full Fan Coil Product Lineup.

2.  Fan coils run from 200 CFM to 2200 CFM, which is 0.5 ton through 5.5 tons.  Anything larger than these sizes requires a belt drive unit…which is really a full fledged air handler.

3.  The thing that differentiates fan coil units is where and how they are going to be installed.  Is the unit going to be hidden above the ceiling or maybe in a closet?  Or is it going to be exposed so that everyone can see it?  Will it be ducted or will it just pull air from the space where it’s located?  These are things that determine the configuration of the unit and which style of unit to choose.  But, every unit has 3 things in common:  fan, coil, and sometimes a filter.

Fan Coils4.  Some units have (2) coils.  One for heating and one for cooling.  Obviously, there is a separate supply and return connection for each coil and these units are known as 4 pipe fan coils.  Many units only use the same coil for both heating and cooling and these units are 2 pipe fan coils.

5.  Units are either horizontal or vertical depending on the orientation and flow of the air.  A typical fan coil in a hotel room is a vertical unit with a mixture of air coming from outside and the air recirculating in the room.  The air enters at the bottom of the unit and is drawn upward through the fan.  This makes the unit a vertical style.  Many units are horizontal with the air entering at the back of the unit and traveling horizontally through the unit.

6.  Almost all fan coils are 3 speed or infinite speed settings based on the controls.  The high speed gives you more BTU’s, but more noise too.  Because the unit is direct drive, when you dial down the speed, you also dial down the performance.

7.  Coils in the units tend to be 3 or 4 row deep coils.  3 row is typically used the most, but if you need the extra performance, 4 row is the way to go.  Performance is always governed by the cooling aspect.

8.  Fan coils sometimes have short runs of duct work and there is static pressure on the unit.  Static pressure reduces the amount of CFM and BTU’s that the fan coil can give you.  This is true of both horizontal and vertical units.  Most performances listed on charts that you will see are static free performances.

9.  The control systems for fan coils are often more complicated and more expensive than the units themselves.  There are balancing valves, isolation valves, unions, y-strainers, p/t plugs, air vents, ball valves, thermostats, condensate float switches, and disconnects.  Capital Coil & Air can do this at the plant, but it is much cheaper and easier to do it at the installation. 

10.  Just describe your installation requirements to a sales engineer at Capital Coil & Air and they will guide you to the right design and configuration of the unit for you.  It requires only a phone call or e-mail! We look forward to working with you!

 

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Chilled Water Coils – Circuiting Made Easy

Chilled Water Coil

Circuiting chilled water coils is one of life’s great challenges in the coil business. You’re bound to run across folks with years of experience in the industry that can not effectively explain this concept. While not the most exciting of subjects, the necessity of circuiting chilled water coils can not be overstated. Capital Coil & Air has attempted to simplify the idea of circuiting as much as possible.

For starters, circuiting chilled water coils is ultimately up to the performance of those coils. Circuiting is really a balancing act of tube velocity and pressure drop. In other words, think of a coil as a matrix. Each coil has a specific number of rows, and a specific number of tubes within each row. For example, a chilled water coil might be 36 inch fin height and 8 rows deep. The coil has 24 tubes in each row, and multiplied by 8 rows, there is a total of 192 tubes within the coil. While you can try to feed any number of tubes, there are only a few combinations that will work.

    • Feeding 1 tube – you will be making 192 passes through the coil, which will essentially require a pump the size of your car to make that process work.
    • Feeding 2 tubes – equates to 96 passes, and your pressure drop will still be enormous.
    • Feeding 3 tubes – 64 passes, which is still too many.
    • Feeding 4 tubes – See above.
    • Feeding 5 tubes – Impossible as 5 does not divide evenly into 192 (passes).
    • Feeding 6 tubes – Still constitutes far too many passes, which again leads to additional pressure drop.
    • Feeding 7 tubes – Same rule for feeding 5 tubes.
    • Feeding 8 tubes –  Same rule for feeding 6 tubes.
    • Feeding 24 tubes – This feed consists of 8 passes, which is in the ballpark, and with a pressure drop you can live with.
    • Feeding 32 tubes – 32 tubes will see 6 passes. You might see a slight decrease in performance, but it’s off-set by a continuously better pressure drop.
    • Feeding 48 tubes – The magic combination, as 4 passes typically elicits the best performance and pressure drop simultaneously.

 

Rule #1: The number of tubes that you feed must divide evenly into the number of tubes in the chilled water coil.

Rule #2: The chilled water coil must give you an even number of passes so that the connections end up on the same end.

Rule #3: Based on the number of passes, you must be able to live with the resulting pressure drop. Acceptable tube velocity with water is between 2 and 6 ft. per second.

You’re bound to run into different terminologies depending on the manufacturer. More times than not, the different verbiage confuses more than it clarifies. However, understanding the basic tenets of chilled water coil circuiting will remove much of the perceived difficulty.  

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10 Things To Know About Chilled Water Coils

Chilled Water Coil

1. Hot or chilled water coils are still water coils. There is really no difference between hot water coils and a chilled water coils in construction. Hot water coils are usually 1 or 2 rows and chilled water coils are usually 3 to 12 rows deep.

2. The vast majority of chilled water coils are constructed from either 1/2″ OD tubes or 5/8″ OD tubes. A lot of that depends on the tooling of the original equipment manufacturer and what is more economical. Either size can be used and substituted for each other, which makes replacing your coil that much easier.

3. 1/2″ Tubes are on 1.25″ center to center distance. 5/8″ tubes are on 1.5″ center to center distance. For example, if a chilled water coil has a 30″ fin height, there will be (24) 1/2″ tubes per row or (20) 5/8″ tubes per row. The tube area of the coil is remarkably the same. They are almost interchangeable.

4. The quality of the coil often times is directly tied to the tube thickness. Many installations have water not treated properly or tube velocities that are too high. There are few perfect installations in real life. Increasing the tube wall thickness on a chilled water coil is a great way to ensure longer life.

5. Fins make great filters! Of course, they are not designed to be filters, but it happens. You can make any coil cheaper by making them 14 fins/inch with less rows rather than 8 or 10 fins/inch. Just remember that deep coils are very difficult to clean. Cheap is not the way to go most of the time!

6. Fins are designed for maximum heat transfer. They are much more complicated in design than they appear to be when looking at the chilled water coil. They are rippled on the edge to break up the air. They are corrugated throughout the depth of the fin. The tubes are staggered from row to row and the fin collars are extended. All of this to maximize heat transfer. Unfortunately, the byproduct of this is the fins can end up being great filters. Be careful in the design of any chilled water coil.

7. Fins are aluminum for a reason! They give you great heat transfer at an economical cost. You need a compelling reason to switch to copper fins as copper is very expensive, and you’re likely to double (or maybe triple) the cost of the coil. Coatings are popular for this very reason.

8. Many chilled water coils are built with 304 stainless steel casings. The casings are stronger, they last longer, they are stackable, and it’s fairly inexpensive. After all, what is the point of building the best coil possible and have the casing disintegrate over time around the coil? Sometimes, it’s money well spent!

9. Circuiting the coil is the tricky part of any coil. Circuiting is nothing more than the number of tubes that you want to feed from a header. There are two rules. You must keep the water velocity over 1 foot/second and below 6 feet/second. 3-4 feet/second is optimum. The second is the number of tubes that you feed must divide evenly into the number of tubes in the coil.

10. Replacing  your chilled water coil is easy. Rarely do you have to worry about the performance. When you replace a 20 year old coil, it is dirty and the fin/tube bond is not good. The coil is probably operating at 1/2 of its capacity at best. When you put a new coil on the job, your performance will automatically be terrific. Your main concern is now making the sure the coil physically fits in the space allowed. And always have this in the back of your mind: Smaller is always better than too large. Smaller you can always work with, whereas too large makes for a very ugly and expensive coffee table.

There you have it – everything you need to know about chilled water coils. Interested in learning more, please reach out to Capital Coil & Air! We look forward to the opportunity to be your coil replacement specialists!

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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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Case Study: We Need These Coils on a (5) Day Quick-ship

In late June, Capital Coil received a call from a Trane office in Ohio regarding quick-ship availability. One of Trane’s top customers had an urgent need for (12) large chilled water coils with stainless steel casing. The problem/hurdle that they were encountering was that they needed all (12) coils to be built and ship out of the factory in (5) business days. Completion of the whole project was 100% contingent on them receiving the coils in their specified time-frame. An additional complication was the fact that July 4th was the following week, and they needed to have the coils ship prior to the holiday.

Trane shopped the project around to different manufacturers, but not one could guarantee to ship in (5) days. Some manufacturers waffled and claimed that they could have them built in (6) or (7) days, but not one could guarantee to ship in (5) days. A sales rep in that same Trane office, who had worked with Capital Coil previously, suggested that his co-worker reach out to us to see what we could do. After speaking with Trane’s project manager, we immediately contacted our head of production to make sure that we had the capacity to complete all (12) coils in the required (5) days. She assured us that we had the materials and manpower on-hand to get them all built and ship on time. We agreed to accept the project and began work on the coils immediately.

Due to the size of the project, as well as it’s time-sensitivity, we had multiple calls daily with our factory to ensure that everything was proceeding on schedule. We then gave Trane daily status updates, so they were constantly informed of everything from the brazing of the coils to entering the final testing phase. Chilled Water Coil

As promised, all (12) coils were built correctly and shipped out in the required (5) days. Our logistics team was then in constant communication with the freight company to make sure that the delivery was on schedule. And just like during the production phase, we passed daily tracking updates along to Trane, so they knew where their coils were at all times and when they could expect delivery. All (12) chilled water coils arrived on July 3rd with zero freight damage, and the project was completed on time!

A company as large and influential as Trane can have their coils built by anyone, but Capital Coil was the only manufacturer that could guarantee to have their coils built and shipped by a required date. Additionally, in working so closely with Trane throughout the whole process, they were kept up-to-date in real time from the start of production to final delivery.

Capital Coil offers a level of service that you won’t get with other manufacturers. When we guarantee to ship by a certain date, we stand by that guarantee, or you do not pay!

 

Trane’s project manager’s comments to Capital Coil upon completion/delivery:

“This will help us get a jump on this project prior to the big event taking place next week! 

I will make sure to share your information with others across our great lakes region about our experience with your company, so that they know we have THIS option to go to for our coil needs. THANK YOU ALL!!”


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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How to Make Sense of Heating Coils

Various winter storms have already ripped through multiple parts of the country necessitating the obvious need for working heating coils!!  With conditions such as these, emergencies with your HVAC systems are almost inevitable. THIS is precisely when you need your coil supplier to have the speed and flexibility to be able to tackle whatever emergencies arise.Steam Coil

Of all the types of HVAC coils available, heating coils are probably the easiest to select and understand. Capital Coil has listed the three most common types of heating coils that you are likely to come across.

Hot Water Coils

When looking at a water coil, the first thing to remember is that it is in effect “dumb”. In other words, water coils do not know the temperature of the water moving through it. While standard HVAC water coils are mostly constructed in the same design, the number of rows contained within the coil is a key differentiator in determining if the coil is hot water or chilled water. 99% of all hot water coils are (1) or (2) rows based on performance requirements. The “Delta T” between the entering air temperature and the hot water temperature is very large. As a result, you only need a coil with (1) or (2) rows to do the job. Face velocities across the coil can be anywhere from 600 to 1,200 FPM (feet/minute), while water velocities are usually 2-4 FPS (feet/second). As a result, you will always end up with a (1) or (2) row coil with somewhere between 8-14 fins/inch.

Booster Coils

Hot water booster coils are just another variation of the standard HVAC hot water coil.  They are always (1) or (2) rows as well, but the casing is designed for duct work installation. This basically means there is usually a 1” or 1.5” casing on all four sides of the coil. You select the proper size of the coil to make sure the air velocity across the coil is correct and simply transition the duct work to make the casing size around the coil.  Generally speaking, the size of the coil face is larger than the duct size, so you must transition the duct to make it larger. Just remember, a booster coil is nothing more than a standard hot water coil that is used for duct work installation.

There can also be a casing variation called “slip & drive”, where the coil is installed in the duct work. The coil does not have the standard casing on all four sides like a flanged coil. Capital Coil’s selection program allows you to pick either option.

Steam Coils

The real secret to any steam coil installation is to know that steam coils are much more of a product of the entire system than any other coil; meaning that other coil types are much more independent of the system.  Steam coils require numerous considerations, such as traps, pitched casing, piping flexibility, and vacuum breakers.  Steam coils are also built according to steam pressure through the tubes and headers.  2 – 50 psig is considered “low pressure” steam for coils, while 50-100 psig is considered “medium pressure”. Anything over 100 psig is considered “high pressure” steam.  An important fact to remember is that each of these categories requires a separate kind of construction with different brazing and different materials.  Additionally, almost all steam coils are (1) or (2) rows deep. Steam coils are known either as “standard” steam or “steam distributing”, but the differences are very easy to understand.  Outside air temperatures below 40˚F require that you have a “non-freeze” steam distributing coil.

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5 Work Day Quick-Ships on HVAC Coils – Why Capital Coil does it right

Day 1 – 38% of all orders sent to Capital Coil are on some kind of quick-ship, whether it be on a (5 day, 10 day, or 15 day). We enter the order immediately so that all departments in the plant have the project in their systems and are ready to move on it right away. The coil isQuick-Ships engineered, routing sheets are sent to the shop floor, and everybody now knows what needs to be built. 

Day 2 – Sheet metal casings are cut and sized, headers and connections are fabricated, while tube sheets are fabricated.

Day 3 – All tubing and fins are cut, stamped and assembly begins. You can see what the coil will look like upon final assembly at this point. Coils can be seen sitting on assembly tables.

Day 4 – Tubes are then expanded into the fins, and keep in mind that this is not a short process. Headers are then brazed to the tubes, and if there are return bends, they are connected. The coil is completely assembled and moved to the testing tank. The coil is tested under water for 20 minutes at 550 PSI. About 3% of coils have small leaks someplace in the brazing and are sent back to braze again.

Day 5 – The coil is crated and sent to shipping for routing to the customer. Then most importantly, your coil will be shipping in the guaranteed (5) days.

As you can see by this description, with quick-ships, there is not a lot of room for error in the timing and shipping with OEM HVAC replacement coils. We’ve been doing this for a while now, and we’ve had an approximately (97%) success rate fulfilling all quick-ship requests. We offer quick shipments 365 days per year, with both (10) day shipments & (15) day shipments also available for lower premiums.

diagram 

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Why Are Fin Designs 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 designs 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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Frozen Steam Coils: How Do You Prevent This?

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.Steam Coils

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!

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