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Coolant in Equipment: Appearances Can Be Deceiving

May 22, 2020
Containers of construction equipment coolant
One of these samples caused a $500,000 replacement of equipment. But which one?

Cooling systems should be monitored during every PM.

Emily Featherston, product application specialist for Polaris Laboratories says your coolant should be clear of precipitate and have the appearance of new fluid when first put into the system, and even thought it may look the same to the eye when checked later, negative forces may be at work.

"Only monitoring the appearance may not tell the whole story of the health of the cooling system," she says. "Appearance can indicate some concerns when an odor or clarity change occur. However, with further testing performed at regular PM intervals, in conjunction with laboratory testing to monitor the health of the cooling system, concerns can be caught earlier rather than just monitoring the appearance."

She lists some early system concerns that will not be visible by merely looking at coolant:

  • Corrosion
  • Hard water contamination
  • Chemical reaction impacting pH levels
  • Inhibitor levels
  • Degradation due to overheating
  • Glycol concentration for adequate freeze point and boil point control

"Utilizing proper testing to monitor the cooling system and fluid health are very important for maintaining your equipment," Featherston says.

The cooling system is critical to maintaining proper temperature for the equipment.

"Approximately 40 to 50 percent of preventable engine failures can be traced back to problems in the cooling system," Featherston says. "Of those failures due to the cooling system, 80 percent of the concerns can be identified and corrected early before attributing to engine concerns leading to an unnecessary failure.

"Proper testing will detect problems that are not visible to the naked eye and determine if the cooling system is able to protect your equipment and prevent unexpected equipment downtime and increase maintenance costs," Featherston says.

 

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