Why and How to Maintain Your Boat’s HVAC/R System
If you spend any amount of time on a boat, whether it’s a yacht or a tanker, you’ll understand how important the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (marine HVAC/R) system is. Extreme weather conditions combined with any number of people inside a contained and potentially limited space can be a recipe for an uncomfortable journey.
An efficient and effective marine HVAC/R system will ensure the air is clean and everyone is comfortable, no matter whether it’s hot, humid, wet or icy outside the vessel.
Most marine HVAC/R systems work night and day to keep passengers and crew comfortable which can inevitably lead to some wear and tear over time. There is also a risk of blockages or build-ups in the system due to garbage or microorganisms in the water that is drawn in to circulate and cool the equipment.
By taking preventative steps such as routine maintenance and servicing, you can extend both the life and efficiency of your marine HVAC/R system for years to come.
Routine Maintenance is Key to Keeping Your Marine HVAC/R System Running Smoothly
Marine HVAC/R systems are made up of many parts which are heavily exposed to weather and pollutants. Like any mechanical system, things can go wrong which will reduce performance or even cause a system shut down. Not ideal if you are at sea and unable to access professional help. Common issues include:
- High-pressure faults – often shown as HPF errors on the system control panel. This is usually due to the flow of intake water being restricted or blocked and will lead to inefficient cooling or even system shut down.
- Low freon levels – Freon is a non-combustible gas refrigerant that creates cooling in the air conditioning system. A leak somewhere in the system will reduce cooling capabilities.
- Coil corrosion – Evaporator and condenser coils are exposed to ocean salt and other pollutants that can be corrosive, thereby leading to damage and refrigerant leaks.
The key to preventing these kinds of issues, and catching damage while it is easily repaired, is to carry out regular system maintenance and services. Even simple routine maintenance can prevent blockages and build-ups from occurring and keep your HVAC/R system running smoothly all season.
Boat owners can do the following maintenance tasks regularly:
- Clean external parts of system such as coils and access panels – use a non-abrasive cleaner and avoid spraying directly onto electrical wires or panels
- Inspect air filters – clean and or change as required. Clogged filters will mean the HVAC has to work harder for the same results, which is less efficient.
- Check water inlets and strainers for debris or marine organism build-up. This is especially important in summer as there is increased bacterial and barnacle growth in warmer waters.
These basic care tasks should keep your marine HVAC/R system flowing well. Always refer to your operator manual for anything you are unsure of and call in a professional when needed.
Signs That Your Marine HVAC/R System Has a Problem
When operating your vessel, or when you are carrying out your regular boat maintenance, keep an eye out for any sign of:
- Incorrect temperature. If you are not getting the heating or cooling you are expecting that’s a clear sign something is wrong with the HVAC/R system
- Freezing on evaporator or condenser coils
- Pooling water – this might indicate a blockage in your draining system. If water isn’t draining properly this can cause damage to the electrical.
- Obvious signs of corrosion, especially holes, on coils – freon can leak quickly from damaged coils
- Motor making unusual noise, cutting in and out or not working at all.
If you see any of these things, it’s time to call in a qualified technician, like the team at South Island Mechanical to take a look at your system. Catching problems early, before the damage becomes too severe will make it easier, and less expensive, to fix.
Use a Marine HVAC Professional for Servicing and Repairs
Many boat owners are used to performing annual maintenance and service tasks themselves, but you shouldn’t be tempted to try to service your boat’s HVAC/R yourself. A marine HVAC/R professional can help with maintenance tasks, servicing of harder to reach areas, repairs and even replacement of older systems.
You should plan to get an annual professional HVAC/R system service as this can identify any areas where repairs or replacements are needed. A marine HVAC/R service should include:
- Freon level checks. These should be done both before and after service so any refrigerant lost during repairs can be topped up.
- Check evaporator and condenser coils for corrosion. Apply preventative coating that will prevent damage and improve performance.
- Check evaporator and condenser fans and repair if needed, to ensure continuing flow of cool or warm air.
- Test electrical amperage draw. Part of the system is drawing a high or low level of power is indicative of a problem.
- Flushing of cooling coils and bilge pipes to remove build-up that may be causing a blockage.
Your technician will recommend any repairs or replacements you might need to keep your marine HVAC/R system running smoothly and efficiently, giving you peace of mind.
Trust South Island Mechanical for All Your Marine HVAC/R and Refrigeration Needs
South Island Mechanical knows that you want to make the most of your time on the water without the worry of your HVAC/R failing. Our team of technicians can help with all your marine HVAC care needs from routine maintenance to services, repairs and replacements.
We have experience working with the top marine HVAC brands. Even if you have an older obsolete system, we will go out of our way to find the parts you need.
Based in Victoria and servicing all of Vancouver Island, South Island Mechanical can also assist with your marine refrigeration needs including on-board fridge’s, freezers, water heaters and gas appliances.
Contact us today to arrange a marine HVAC service or for a repair diagnosis and quote. We can attend to your vessel at your marina or moorage so you won’t need to haul out.
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