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PART 1

Module 1/4

Basic Water Systems

Objectives:
To define basic heating, chilled water
and condenser water systems
To define their components
To understand how they are used

INTRODUCTION TO MODULE
The commissioning of water
systems requires a basic
knowledge of heating, chilled
water and condenser water
systems.
In this module we will look at the
different types of systems that
you will see, the equipment used
in them and their safety aspects.

1. HEATING SYSTEMS
Heating is normally carried out by either low, medium or high temperature
hot water systems.
Water is used because it is one of the most efficient fluids for heat transfer.
You will often find that low temperature hot water is abbreviated to LTHW,
medium temperature to MTHW and high temperature to HTHW.
Also, the word pressure is sometimes used in place of temperature, giving
the abbreviations LPHW, MPHW and HPHW.
The different types of system are classified by their flow temperature as
shown in the table below:
TYPE
LTHW
MTHW
HTHW

FLOW TEMPERATURE
Up to 100C
100C to 120C
Greater than 120C

Low Temperature Hot Water (LTHW / LPHW)

Low temperature hot water is mainly used


for the heating of houses, offices and other
buildings of that nature.
When low temperature hot water is used,
the temperature of the water is below
atmospheric boiling point, normally at about
82C with the return temperature normally
11 C lower (71C).
Sometimes a 20C temperature difference
between flow and return is used, which has
the effect of reducing pipe sizes. (The
reason for this will be explained in later
modules)

Low Temperature Hot Water (LTHW / LPHW)


Figure below shows a schematic drawing of a typical LTHW
system consisting of a boiler, feed and expansion tank, pump
set and a distribution pipe work. Two secondary circuits are
shown, a constant temperature circuit serving an air handling
unit heater battery and a variable temperature circuit serving
some radiators.
Let us look at each part of the system in turn.

Figure 1 - Schematic Drawing of a Low Temperature Hot Water Heating System.

Low Temperature Hot Water (LTHW / LPHW)

Boiler:
The boiler plant provides heat for the
water in the system.
Boilers are normally oil or gas fired; coal
firing is not used very often nowadays.

Low Temperature Hot Water (LTHW / LPHW)


Feed and expansion tank:
Any heating system will leak very slightly through pump and valve
glands, no matter how tight they are.
The feed and expansion tank provides make-up water to offset this
loss.
The tank also serves another purpose. As the water in the system is
heated, it expands (increases in volume). If the effects of this
expansion were not allowed for, the additional volume of water
would try to force its' way out of any weak points in the system and
could cause bad leaks.
Two pipes run between the feed and expansion tank and the heating
system. The cold feed pipe is taken from the bottom of the tank and
provides make up water to the system.
This pipe is normally valved between the tank and the system, so
that if it is necessary to drain a system down, the cold feed will not
try to fill it up again.
The open vent runs from the system to terminate over the tank.
This pipe is open ended and must never be valved.

Low Temperature Hot Water (LTHW / LPHW)


Feed and expansion tank: (contd)

The feed and expansion tank is open topped and installed at the highest
point in the heating system. As water is lost from the system, the system
pressure will fall, because the tank is Open Topped and at a higher level than
the system, a combination of atmospheric pressure and gravity will act on
the water in the tank to force it to flow down the cold feed pipe to offset the
pressure loss (water loss) in the system. Feed and expansion tanks are
installed at the highest point in the building for this reason.
As water expands in the heating system, the system pressure will rise, forcing
system water up the cold feed pipe from the system to the tank, causing the
water level in the tank to rise. The water in the open vent pipe will also rise to
a similar level. (Sometimes there is a combined cold feed and open vent).
There are instances where a feed and expansion tank is replaced by a
pressurisation unit. This is usually the case either if the building is only one or
two stories high and the system has a large water volume, or if the building is
very tall. The section on medium temperature hot water systems talks more
about pressurisation units.
A system with a feed and expansion tank is called an atmospheric or open
vented system. A system with a pressurisation unit is called a sealed
system.

Low Temperature Hot Water (LTHW / LPHW)


Pumps:
A pump is used to circulate the heated water around
the system from the boiler through the pipe work
system to serve radiators, heater batteries and other
types of heat emitters.
You will often find not one but two pumps on a
system (as shown in the schematic). In this case, one
pump will be used as a duty pump. The other one will
be used as a standby in case the duty pump fails.
This means that if a pump does break down, the
whole heating system is not put out of action.
Where duty and standby pumps are installed, it is
usual to swap over the duty and standby pumps after
a period of running, to prevent the standby pump
from seizing.

Low Temperature Hot Water (LTHW / LPHW)

Pipework:
The pipework system is used to distribute
the heated water from the boiler to the
respective heat emitters.
Usually a two pipe system is used; the flow
pipe taking the water from the boiler to the
heat emitters and the return pipe returning
the water to the boiler.

Low Temperature Hot Water (LTHW / LPHW)


Variable temperature circuit:
The schematic diagram also shows a secondary circuit being taken from the main
pipework system to serve a number of radiators.
You can see a three way valve at the start of the circuit. This valve keeps the
amount of water to the radiators constant by mixing main flow water .with return
water from the radiators. However, because the radiator return water is at a lower
temperature than the main system, the secondary flow temperature is varied. This
is known as a constant volume, variable temperature circuit.
The three way valve is called a mixing valve. In figure 1, a three way valve is
shown in the return from a Heater Battery (the secondary return). In this
application, the valve is termed a mixing valve in a diverting application. In
variable temperature circuits, the three way valve is located in the secondary flow.
When a three way valve is used in this manner it is known as a mixing valve in a
mixing application.
The amount of main flow water that the valve mixes with the secondary circuit
return water is determined by comparing outdoor temperature with either
secondary circuit return temperature or room temperature. You should be able to
realise that as outside temperature falls, more heating will be required (a higher
secondary flow temperature) so the valve will open to allow more main flow water
through to the secondary circuit until the valve is fully open and the secondary
flow temperature is the same as the main flow.
As the outside temperature rises, the valve will close, allowing more secondary
return water and less main flow water to be mixed, creating a lower secondary
circuit flow temperature.
This type of system is also known as a compensated circuit because it
compensates the secondary circuit flow temperature to suit the outside
temperature.

Low Temperature Hot Water (LTHW / LPHW)


Constant temperature circuit:

The schematic diagram shows a sub-circuit being taken from


the main pipework system to serve an air handling unit
heater battery.
You can see a three way valve at the heater battery. This
valve will normally be controlled to maintain the air coming
off the heater battery at a certain temperature. This is done
by opening the valve to vary the amount of return water from
the heater battery. It follows that by doing this, the amount of
flow water to the heater battery is also varied. However, the
flow temperature is kept constant. This is known as a
constant temperature, variable volume circuit.
When a three way valve is used in this type of application it
is termed a mixing valve in a diverting application.
This type of circuit is only usually used to serve heat emitters
where the heat content of the water is passed to an air
stream flowing over the emitter or to a secondary water
system, for example a calorifer serving a domestic hot water
system.

Low Temperature Hot Water (LTHW / LPHW)


Air handling unit heater battery and Radiators
:
These are both types of heat emitters. They are
described later in this section.

Medium Temperature Hot Water (MTHW /


MPHW)
Medium temperature hot water is mainly used for the
heating of factories and other buildings of that nature.
As you saw from the chart at the start of this section, the
temperature of the water in an MTHW system is above
boiling point, normally at about 120C with the return
temperature normally 10C lower (110C) is achieved by
pressurising the system with a pressurisation unit. This
type of system is known as a pressurised or sealed
system.
With medium and high temperature hot water systems,
as the boiler raises the temperature of the water, the
pressure in the system must also be raised. This is to
ensure that the system pressure is always above the
pressure at which water boils (saturated vapour
pressure). If this was not done, the water would very
rapidly boil and turn to steam (also known as "flashing
into steam") and the system would not function as it was
designed to. For this reason you will never find an MTHW
or HTHW system with a feed and expansion tank.

Medium Temperature Hot Water (MTHW /


MPHW)
The schematic drawing below shows a typical MTHW system
containing a boiler, pressurisation unit, pump set and a
distribution pipework circuit serving some unit heaters.

FIGURE 2 - SCHEMATIC
OF AN MPHW SYSTEM

We have already discussed boilers, pumps and pipework


circuits under LTHW systems. Unit heaters are a type of heat
emitter. These are discussed later in this section. Let us look at
the pressurisation unit.

Medium Temperature Hot Water (MTHW /


MPHW)
Pressurisation Unit

a pressurisation unit is used to maintain the system pressure high


enough to allow the system temperature to be raised above atmospheric
boiling point.
Normally, a pressurisation unit will be made up of a feed tank, pressure
cylinder, water make up pump and high and low pressure controls. The
pressure cylinder usually is partly filled with nitrogen; the rest of the
cylinder is filled with system water. The nitrogen is separated from the
system water by a rubber diaphragm. Sometimes air is used instead of
nitrogen, however this is normally when pressurisation units are used on
LTHW heating and chilled water systems. The pressurisation unit
operates in the following way:
As the temperature of the water in the system rises, it will expand.
The expanded water will enter the pressure cylinder and compress
the nitrogen cushion until the nitrogen is compressed to the pressure
needed in the system to prevent the water from boiling. If the
pressure in the system drops (due to leaks at valve and pump seals),
a pressure sensor will start the pressurisation pump. This will take
water from the make-up tank and pump it into the system until the
system working pressure is reached again.
The amount of nitrogen (or air if used) in the pressure cylinder is
sufficient so that in its' compressed form it will equal the system
working pressure.

High Temperature Hot Water Systems

High temperature hot water is used mainly as a transportation medium to provide


a primary heating source for medium and low temperature hot water systems in
large industrial complexes and district heating systems. That is, it replaces an
LTHW or MTHW boiler.
As you saw from the chart at the start of this section, the temperature of the
water in an HTHW system is normally at about 140C with the return temperature
normally 20C lower (120C). Again, a pressurisation unit is used to prevent the
system water from boiling.
The schematic drawing below shows a typical HTHW system containing a boiler,
pressurisation unit, pump set and a distribution pipework circuit serving a
calorifier that provides heating to a low temperature hot water system.

FIGURE 3 - TYPICAL SCHEMATIC


OF A HTHW SYSTEM

The boilers and pumps used in a HTHW system are similar to those already
described for low temperature and medium temperature hot water systems. The
pipework, valves, pipe fittings and heat emitters used in this type of system are of
stronger construction to allow them to cope with the far higher system
temperature and pressure.

SAFETY ASPECTS
Low temperature hot water systems can be, and normally
are, balanced and commissioned at operating temperatures.
Medium and high temperature systems must be balanced
when they are cold.
As already explained to you, these systems are pressurised
so that the system temperature can be raised above boiling
point. This is potentially very dangerous.
If, for example, you are balancing a medium temperature
system and one of the connections should break, at your
water meter, the system water will be allowed to escape. As
the system water temperature is above boiling point, it will
flash off to steam as soon as it is exposed to normal
atmospheric pressure. This can cause severe burns.
If ever you are working on an MTHW or HTHW system
and you are asked to work with the system at normal
operating temperature, refuse ! This point cannot be
emphasised enough.

Heat Emitters
Type

Description

Air handling unit heater


battery or frost coil

These are used to heat air at an air handling unit. They are normally
made up of copper tube with copper or aluminium fins. The air is
passed over the fins. Control is by a sensor in the air stream and a
three port control valve. They can be used in LTHW, MTHW and
HTHW systems. They are normally served by constant temperature
circuits.

Radiators

Despite the name, 70% of the heat given from radiators is


convective.
Two basic types are used, column and panel. Column radiators are
usually made from cast iron whilst panel radiators are made from
pressed steel. Column radiators are not used very frequently today
control is usually by a thermostatic radiator valve and a variable
temperature circuit. Radiators are normally used in LTHW systems
only.

Natural convectors

Natural convectors are normally made up of a finned tube contained


in a cabinet, however they can be built into architectural features
under windows or hand rails. Control is sometimes by a variable
temperature circuit. They are used in LTHW, MTHW and HTHW
systems without the casing becoming dangerously hot.

Skirting heating element

Skirting element is normally made up of finned tube, either


contained
in a cabinet or embedded in a floor and covered with a grille. Control
is by a variable temperature circuit. They are normally used on LTHW
systems only.

Heat Emitters
Type

Description

Fan convectors

Fan convectors are made up of finned tube and a fan, contained in a


cabinet. The finned tube is normally located near to the top of the
casing. Air is drawn in through an opening at the bottom of the
casing
by the fan, then blown across the heating element and discharged
through a grille at the top. Control is usually by a local thermostat
switching the fan on and off. They are used on constant temperature
circuits on either LTHW, MTHW or HTHW systems.

Unit heaters

Unit heaters are a type of fan convector used for industrial


applications.
They are again made up of finned tube and a fan in a casing,
however,
air is normally drawn in at the back of the heater and discharged at
the front. Control is by a local sensor switching the fan on and off.
They are used in constant temperature circuits on LTHW, MTHW
or HTHW systems. They discharge higher volumes of air at higher
velocities and are usually located at high level.

Radiant panels/strip

Radiant panels and strips consist of a pipe attached to a radiant


surface. The back of the radiant surface is normally insulated to
prevent heat loss, however, it can be left open to give a degree of
convective heating. Control is usually by a local sensor and control
valve serving a zone of panels or strips. They can be used on LTHW,
MTHW and HTHW systems.

1. CHILLED WATER SYSTEMS


Chilled water is produced by heat exchanger of a vapour compression cycle
system, also known as the mechanical refrigeration process.
The technical aspects of the mechanical refrigeration process will be looked at in
another module.
Chilled water is usually controlled to a flow temperature of 5 or 6C and a return
temperature of 6C higher, that is 11 or 12C. If the flow temperature were much
lower, there would be a danger of the water in the system freezing.
When chilled water pipework has to be run outside or through cold areas, frost
protection is required to prevent the system water from freezing. This can take the
form of electric trace heating tape wrapped around the pipework running through
the cold area. If the system is of the closed type, a mixture of water and ethylene
glycol (anti-freeze) can be used in the system.

IMPORTANT NOTE:
All chilled water circulation pipework is insulated with
vapour sealed insulation. When balancing or
commissioning a chilled water system it is important to
ensure that the vapour seal is not damaged in any way. If
the vapour seal is damaged, condensation may occur
which will in turn cause damage to the pipework,
pipework fittings and valves.

1. CHILLED WATER SYSTEMS


The schematic drawing below shows a typical chilled water
system. The system is made up of a chiller, a pump set and
pipework distribution system serving an air handling unit cooling
coil and a secondary circuit serving a number of fan coil units.

FIGURE 4 - TYPICAL
CHILLED WATER SYSTEM

We have already looked at pumps and pipework in the low


temperature hot water system section of part 1 of this module.
The remaining items are described below.

Chiller
The chiller is the heart of a chilled water system. It contains the
evaporator, compressor, condenser and expansion valve
components of the mechanical refrigeration process. Basically,
the chiller operates in the following way.
System water is passed over tubes containing refrigerant
in the evaporator section of the chiller.
Heat from the system water is transferred to the
refrigerant by a heat exchange process, having the effect
of cooling the system water.
The heated refrigerant is compressed by a compressor
then passed through the condenser. Condensers can be
either water or air cooled.
At the condenser, a further heat exchange takes place
from the refrigerant to the condensing medium. The cooled
refrigerant is then passed back to the evaporator through
an expansion valve to pick up more heat from the chilled
water system.

Chiller
Air cooled condensers are made up of a finned tube coil and a fan,
housed in a cabinet. The refrigerant runs through the finned tube
coil. Air is drawn across the coil by the fan, causing a heat exchange
between the refrigerant and the air. That is, the heat taken from the
chilled water system and being passed onto the refrigerant at the
chiller, is finally rejected to outside air by the condenser.
Water cooled condensers are served by a condenser water
system. The refrigerant passes through tubes in the condenser.
Condenser water is passed across the tubes. This causes a heat
exchange to take place between the refrigerant and the condenser
water. The condenser water is then pumped around a pipework
system and passed through a further heat exchanger. At the heat
exchanger, the heat in the system is finally rejected to outside air.
Part 3 of this module looks at condenser water systems and the
different types of heat exchangers.
Condensers are usually remote from the chiller. However, in some
systems a chiller, compressor, expansion valve and an air cooled
condenser are combined in one casing. These are known as
packaged chillers.

Make Up and Expansion Tank


In the same way as heating systems, any chilled water
system will leak very slightly through pump and valve glands,
no matter how tight they are. The make up and expansion
tank provides make-up water to offset this loss. The tank is
normally installed at the highest internal point in the building.
If the water in the system is not being cooled, it expands
slightly. If the effects of this expansion were not allowed for,
the additional volume of water would try to force its' way out
of any weak points in the system and could cause leaks. To
avoid this, a vent pipe is again taken from the system to the
make up and expansion tank.
The arrangement and operation of the tank is exactly the
same as that described for a low temperature hot water
heating system. A pressurisation unit and expansion vessel
may be used instead of a make up and expansion tank. The
MTHW section of part one of this module gives an overview of
a pressurisation unit.

Secondary Circuit
Chilled water is usually circulated at a constant temperature,
however, when the system includes fan coil units, they are normally
served by a secondary circuit taken off the main or primary circuit.
A chilled water secondary circuit is exactly the same as a heating
system secondary circuit except that it serves fan coil units instead
of radiators. The temperature of the water in the secondary circuit
is again compensated to outside temperature.
The amount of main flow water that the valve mixes with the
secondary circuit return water is determined by comparing outdoor
temperature with either secondary circuit return temperature or
room temperature, You should be able to realise that as outside
temperature rises, more cooling will be required (a lower secondary
flow temperature) so the valve will open to allow more main flow
water through to the secondary circuit until the valve is fully open
and the secondary flow temperature is the same as the main flow.
As outside temperature falls, the valve will close, allowing more
secondary return water and less main flow water to be mixed,
creating a higher secondary circuit flow temperature.

Air Handling Unit Cooling Coil


Cooling coils are used to cool air at an air
handling unit.
They are normally made up of copper tube
with copper fins. The air is passed over the
fins.
Control is by a sensor in the air stream and
a three port control valve on a constant
temperature circuit.

Fan Coil Unit


Fan coil units are a type of fan convector unit,
however, they contain a filter and separate finned
tube heating and cooling coils as well. If they
have been designed for a cooling only application,
they will not contain a heating coil.
Control is usually by a local sensors and a four
port control valve at each unit. They are used on
chilled water and LTHW systems.
Control can also be with constant water through
the heating and cooling coils with a damper
(acting under the dictates of the room sensor)
diverting the air over either the heating or cooling
coils as required.

3. CONDENSER WATER
SYSTEMS
As stated in part 2, a condenser water system is used as the
method of heat rejection for a water cooled chiller. The drawing
below shows a typical condenser water system. The system is
made up of the condenser section of a water cooled chiller, a
pump set, a pipework distribution system and a cooling tower (the
method of heat rejection).

FIGURE 5 - SCHEMATIC OF A
CONDENSER WATER SYSTEM

We have already looked at pumps, pipework and make up and


expansion tanks in this module. The remaining part of a condenser
water system is the heat exchanger. There are two main types in
use at present; the cooling tower and the dry cooler. They are
described below.

Cooling Tower
A cooling tower comprises a matrix of packing material, a
water sump and a fan all located in a casing.
The fan is normally located at the top of the casing.
Condenser water, containing heat rejected from the chilled
water system, is sprayed over the matrix and allowed to
collect in the sump. The fan draws air up through the tower
and across the matrix. Any heat contained in the condenser
water is rejected to the air passing over the matrix.
Water is taken from the sump and returned to pick up more
heat from the chilled water system. The cooling tower
contains moisture eliminators to prevent water being blown
out of the tower by the fan.
Due to the operating temperature of condenser water
systems, the water in the sump of cooling towers can assist
in the formation of the bacteria causing Legionnaires
Disease. Cooling towers, are used less frequently nowadays
for this very reason.

Dry Cooler
A dry cooling coil consists of one or more
finned tube coils and a fan (or fans).
Outside air is drawn across the coil by the
fans. Condenser water is passed through
the coil.
A heat exchange takes place between the
condenser water running through the coil
and the air passing across it.
Because cooling towers can cause
Legionnaires disease, dry coolers are being
used more and more frequently.

4. VENTING OF SYSTEMS
It is a fact of life that when water systems are filled for
the first time, or have been drained down and refilled,
pockets of air become trapped in the system. This
means that the system is not completely full of water.
When the circulation pumps in the system are switched
on, the pockets of air will be circulated around the
system. This will cause a reduction in the efficiency of
the system. This is because air is not as good a heat
transfer medium as water. Air in a system can also affect
pump impellers. The impeller is designed to move water
only. With air pockets in the system, the impeller will be
moving a mixture of water and air bubbles instead. The
air bubbles will scour the impeller as they hit it and it
will cause noise at best or cause very erratic
unrepeatable readings at worst.
From a commissioning viewpoint, air trapped in a water
system will drastically affect the readings taken by a
water meter, causing the meter to indicate a lower
water flow rate than there actually is.

4. VENTING OF SYSTEMS
In the longer term, air mixed with water can create
hydrogen, which, being the basis of all acids can corrode
any metal parts of the system, such as pipework. Any
hydrogen contained within the system will escape when
venting is carried out.
Air vents should be installed in all water systems to allow
the air in the system to be removed. They are installed at
all high points in the system and at every item of
equipment such as heat emitters, fan coil units and
cooling coils. Air vents come in two types; manual and
automatic. Automatic air vents (AAV's) are sometimes
installed at system high points. Manual air vents are
installed at the high points if AAV's are not used and also
at items of equipment, such as heating or cooling coils.
The process of removing air from a water system is
called venting. All water systems, whether heating,
chilled water or condenser water must be vented
before the system is balanced or commissioned.

Method of Venting
1. Ensure that the system is completely switched off. That means all
boilers and pumps if it is a heating system, all chillers and pumps if it is
a chilled water system and all cooling towers/dry coolers and pumps if it
is a condenser water system. The system should be allowed to stand for
at least 30 minutes to allow any pockets of air in the system to rise to
the high points of the system.
2. Identify the location of all manual air vents in the system from the
layout drawings and a visual inspection. This includes all vents at
radiators and coils.
3. Open the valve at the each vent until all air is released and water flows.
Air vents built into radiators and coils require a special key called a vent
key.
Ensure air is being discharged from the vent point and not being sucked
in. This can happen especially at the higher points of the system if the
system is not sufficiently pressurised to overcome the height of the
system.
If this is the case, it could be why there is air present in the system
anyway, being drawn by the negative pressure through valve glands,
AAV's etc.
4. Check the operation of all automatic air vents if fitted in the system.
In old systems AAV' s stick up so it is most important to check that
they work.

EXERCISES
1. What are the design flow and return water temperatures for:
a) Low temperature heating systems
b) Medium temperature heating systems
c) High temperature heating systems
2. Why is venting of a system so important?
3. Describe a secondary chilled water circuit and provide a schematic
diagram.
4. Describe a fan convector

ANSWERS TO EXERCISES
1.
a) 82C Flow
71C Return
b) 120C Flow
110C Return
c) 140C Flow
120C Return
2. Reduction in efficiency
Damage to pump impellers
Affect readings during commissioning Long term affect causes
corrosion

ANSWERS TO EXERCISES
3. Chiller/s
Pumps Primary
Primary Circuit Main Commissioning station
Pumps Secondary
Secondary Circuit Main commissioning station
3 port mixing valve (diverting application)
Bypass Double Regulating Valve
Secondary circuit compensated to outside temperatures
Fan coil units
Control valves on Fan coil units
Possible Commissioning device on fan coil unit or Groups of units

4. Refer to Description contained in the table in the previous slide.