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PART 1

Module 1/9

Basic Flow Regulation

Objectives:
To study the methods of regulating air
flows
To study the methods of regulating
water flows
To study the checks that must be
carried out on a system before it is
balanced / commissioned
To study the principles of proportional
balancing

INTRODUCTION TO MODULE
Any air or water system installed in a building will have been
designed to give a specific performance. By regulating flow
within a system, we can set up the system so that it gives the
required design performance. This principle is known as
proportional balancing.
In this module we shall:
Discuss the methods used for air flow rate regulation
Discuss the methods used for water flow rate regulation
Discuss the checks that should be carried out on a system
before it is balanced.
Discuss the method of proportionally balancing a system

1. AIR FLOW REGULATION


General
Airflow is regulated by a device called a
damper. Imagine blowing down a small piece of
tube. If you put your finger completely over the
end of the tube, no air will come out. If you put
your finger partly over the end the tube, some
air will come out. If you take your finger away,
all of the air that you are blowing into the tube
will come out. In this instance, your finger is
acting as a damper.

Types of Dampers
The simplest form of damper is basically a plate mounted on a
spindle as shown in the sketch in Figure 1 below.
When the plate is in the horizontal position, there is virtually no
resistance to air flow. As the plate is moved from the horizontal to the
vertical, air flow is progressively regulated until virtually no flow is
allowed past the plate.
Figure 1: Plate Damper

The plate damper is commonly used in small diameter circular


ductwork. Unfortunately, due to its simple construction, the plate
damper is crude and can give downstream distortion of air flow when
it is partly closed. For that reason, various other types of damper
have been developed. The main types of dampers in common use in
air systems are:
Opposed blade
Iris
Louvre

Let us look at each type in turn.

Types of Dampers
Opposed Blade Damper
As you can see, this type of damper is made up of a series of
plate dampers arranged so that they will swivel in alternate
directions.
This type of damper is particularly recommended for
rectangular ducts because it gives a wide setting range.
Blades can either be flat plate or aerofoil section, the latter
giving less turbulence of the airflow, note however that the
regulating mechanism usually has an arrow which must point in
the direction of airflow.

Figure 2: Opposed
Blade Damper

Types of Dampers
Iris Damper
It is made up of a diaphragm of overlapping leaves connected
to an exterior ring.
Turning the ring in one direction opens the diaphragm, whilst
-turning the ring in the other direction closes the diaphragm.
(This is also the principle used in the aperture control in a
camera lens).
This type of damper is particularly recommended for circular
ductwork because it gives a very wide setting range.
This type of damper can be calibrated and graphs are produced
by manufacturers. A pressure drop can be measured and this
plotted on the graph to give an airflow rate.
Figure 3: Iris
Damper

Types of Dampers
Louvre Damper
A louvre damper is made up of a series of blades fixed to a
pivoted frame.
As the frame is pivoted into the air stream, the blades will
create a resistance and hence a lower air flow.
This type of damper is particularly useful to deflect air flow
from a main duct to a grille.

Orifice Plate
An alternative method of regulating air flow in a duct
is the orifice plate.
The main disadvantage with an orifice plate is that it
will not give variable flow regulation; it must be sized
to give a particular air flow.
Pipe line mounted orifice plates were described in
module 7. A duct mounted orifice plate is identical to
a pipeline mounted plate. Alternatively a perforated
plate can be used.
This type of device is usually installed in duct
branches close to the fan in order to reduce
excessive static pressures hence simplifying the
balancing procedure.

Damper Positions
Dampers should be installed in the following positions to enable a
system to be correctly regulated:
1. At each air handling unit or fan, in the main duct.
2. In each branch duct.
3. At each grille or terminal. Ideally, the damper should be in
the connecting duct to the grille, however, this is not always
possible due to lack of space. In this instance, grilles and
terminals should have an in-built damper, which can be
adjusted without undue effects on the terminal itself.
Figure 4 below gives a schematic layout of an air system showing
these recommended damper positions.

Figure 4: Recommended
Damper Positions

Fire Dampers
Various walls within a building can be protected with a type of
insulation to prevent the spread of fire.
When a duct passes through a protected (or fire rated) wall it can form
an easy passage for fire.
A fire damper is a special type of damper that is used to prevent this.
Figure 5 below shows a typical fire damper. You can see that it consists
of a folding shutter section and a fusible link. If the temperature within
the duct rises above a certain temperature, the fusible link will melt
and the shutter will drop. Once the shutter has dropped, it will prevent
the spread of fire through the duct. This type of damper is known as a
manual fire damper.
Automatic fire dampers are also available, where the fusible link is
replaced by a solenoid, linked to the building fire alarm system. When
a fire alarm occurs in the building, the fire alarm system will release
the solenoid and the shutter will drop. Note that automatic fire
dampers also have to be reset manually.
Figure 5:
Manual Fire
Damper

Access
It is important that all fire dampers are
accessible for resetting purposes.
It is also highly desirable for duct access
doors to be fitted adjacent to all multi-blade
regulating dampers.
It is essential if the damper is motorised.

TEST HOODS
Types

The usual method of measuring air flow from a grille is to use either an anemometer or
a velometer (discussed in module 7), however, it can be very difficult to obtain an
accurate reading. By using a test hood, air from a grille can be directed through a fixed
area opening where the air velocity can be measured and hence an air volume flow rate
through the hood (and the grille) can be obtained.

The simplest form of hood is a stub duct sized to cover the grille. Air velocity is
measured across the duct opening using an anemometer, hence the volume flow of the
air through the duct (and hence the grille) can be obtained. This type of hood is usually
made from strong cardboard or plastic sheet and can be easily fabricated up on site.

A far more accurate type of hood is the calibrated hood. In this type of hood, all of the
air from the grille is directed into a circular "Throat" via a converging cone, the
anemometer head being located in the centre of the throat. The anemometer reading is
proportional to the volume flow rate through the hood. Manufacturers of these types of
hood supply a calibrated curve from which the volume flow corresponding to the
velocity can be read. This type of hood imposes a resistance on the grille. However, this
does not normally cause a problem with proportional balancing because relative
readings are taken. However to prevent this occurring, velocities through the throat
should be limited to between 1 and 4 metres per second to avoid undesirable effect of
hood resistance.

Large hoods, whether calibrated or of the stub duct type can be very difficult to handle.

TEST HOODS
Calibration

The performance of a hood, whether a simple or calibrated type, must


be checked to ensure that the readings obtained are meaningful. The
usual method of checking hood performance is:
1.

Identify a grille which is served by a straight length of ductwork.

2.

Take a reading at the grille using the hood and obtain a volume flow rate for
that grille.

3.

Carry out a pitot scan in the branch duct serving the same grille and again
obtain a volume flow rate.

4.

Compare the hood volume flow rate and the duct volume flow rate.

5.

If the two readings are not identical, divide the duct flow rate by the hood
flow rate and use the obtained figure as a conversion factor for calculating
the actual volume flow rate for all velocity readings taken on the system
using the hood.

Always ensure that the scan is taken in the duct serving that grille only;
if a reading is taken in a branch serving two grilles, a useful comparison
cannot be made.

If the conversion factor is greater than 1.2 or less than 0.8 the hood
should not be used; a factor outside this range implies an inaccurate
reading at the hood.

2. WATER FLOW REGULATION


Flow Regulation Devices
Water flow rate in a system is regulated by means of valves. The
most common valve used in a pipework system is the gate valve,
however, although this type of valve is good for isolation, it is not
particularly suitable for regulation. This is because:
The gate valve cannot be locked in position once a flow rate has been set
The regulation offered by a gate valve is very crude. A lockable type of
gate valve, known as the lockshield valve is often used at radiators and
in sub-branches but as stated already, the regulation offered is crude.

The double regulating valve is normally used in pipework systems


for flow regulation. This type of valve is a double regulating globe
valve.
It can be fitted with a pressure tapping either side of the valve seat to
form a measuring device known as a variable orifice double
regulating valve. Double regulating valves without pressure
tappings can be close coupled with an orifice plate to form a
measuring station. A far more accurate pressure drop reading can be
obtained across the combination than by using a variable orifice
double regulating valve alone.

2. WATER FLOW REGULATION


Position of Flow
Regulating and
Measuring Devices
The positioning of flow
regulating and measuring
devices is critically
important. If they are
incorrectly positioned it can
be almost impossible to
obtain a correct proportional
balance on a system.
Figure 6 shows a typical
system schematic which
indicates the usual positions.
Figure 6: Typical Water System Schematic

2. WATER FLOW REGULATION


Position of Flow Regulating and Measuring Devices
Flow regulating devices with corresponding flow measurement devices
should be installed in the following positions as a minimum:
In the main pipe
In each branch pipe
In each sub branch
At each terminal. Lockshield valves are normally used at radiators,
however double regulating valves and measuring devices should be
used in all other instances.
The principal requirement for the positioning of a flow measurement
device, is a certain minimum length of straight pipework both upstream
and downstream of the device in order to minimise fluid turbulence. The
upstream pipework is by far the more critical; all local fittings which could
cause disturbances should be positioned downstream wherever possible.
Advice should be obtained from the flow measurement device
manufacturer regarding the minimum straight lengths upstream and
downstream of the device. Typical values are 10 pipe diameters upstream
and 5 pipe diameters downstream. These figures are recommended
although manufacturers say that a 5 up and 2 down should be regarded
as absolute minimum. Below this, measurement accuracy cannot be
guaranteed.

3. PRE COMMISSIONING
CHECKS

Pre-commissioning checks are a very


important part of the balancing and
commissioning procedure. By carrying out
these checks, you will be able to ensure that
the system has been installed correctly and
can be balanced effectively.
General lists of pre-commissioning checks for
air and water systems are given below. The
pre-commissioning checks listed are not
definitive; they are a minimum. Various
commissioning companies will have their own
in-house check lists.

AIR SYSTEMS
Design Information
The following design information is needed:
Layout drawings of system(s) showing all ductwork runs and equipment
locations, including dampers and other flow measuring devices.
Schematic drawings of system(s) showing -design air volume flow rates
and cross sectional areas at air handling units, supply fans, extract fans,
main, branch and sub branch ducts and all terminals; also design static
pressure loss across filters, cooling coils, heating coils and silencers.
Fan characteristic curves, including full details of fan design speed.
Identity of filter media.
Controls schematic, wiring diagram and description of system operation
including details of all interlock arrangements, fuse ratings, design times
for staged starting and motor run up control, design values for fan speed
control.

Important Note:
If, for any reason, system schematic drawings are not
available, full details of system design flow rates and static
pressure drops must still be obtained. Duct cross sectional
areas can be calculated from the duct sizes given on the
system layout drawings. NOTE that these must be confirmed
by actual on site measurement, do not assume that the duct
size shown on the drawing is correct.

AIR SYSTEMS
Inspections to be Carried Out on Site
The following checks and inspections should be carried out on site
prior to starting a fan.
Check that the building is complete; false ceilings, partitions,
doors and windows should have been installed, windows should be
glazed and the building should be architecturally sealed.
Check that all air handling units, fans, dampers, fire dampers,
filters and terminals have been correctly installed.
Check that the ductwork system is complete and clean.
Check that all access doors at air handling units, fans and
ductwork are correctly fitted.
Check that air leakage tests on the ductwork have been completed.
Check that there is adequate access to all equipment.
Walk around the system and fully open all dampers, fire dampers
and terminals. Fresh/recirculation air dampers should be set in
either the full fresh air or full recirculation air position.
Check that local isolators at plant are fully operational.
That all fuse ratings are correct.
Check that motor starter overloads have been correctly set.
Check that controls system is complete and fully operational and
that there is an electrical supply to the control panel.

AIR SYSTEMS

Once the above checks have been carried out, the following procedure should
be followed:
Note fan and motor type, serial number, manufacturer, pulley and belt type
and sizes.
Check safety "Post Commissioning in Progress" and "Danger - Plant May Start
under Remote Control" if appropriate.
Check that fan(s) rotate in the correct direction.
Partially close the system main damper (if fitted).
Start Fan.
Check current drawn by fan and ensure that it is not exceeding the design full
load value.
Walk around the system checking that air is flowing from each supply
terminal or being extracted from each extract point. Any "dead" terminals or
branches should be investigated. This type of investigation will be covered in
a later module.
Measure the total flow rate at the fan by using a duct pitot traverse as
described in module 7. The fan should be delivering at least 110% of design.
If the total flow rate is less than 110% open the main damper whilst ensuring
that the fan motor design full load current is not exceeded until
approximately 110% is achieved. If the fan will not deliver at least the design
volume with the main damper fully open, the cause should be investigated
and resolved. This type of investigation will be covered in a later module.
Measure the fan external static pressure by using a pitot tube and
manometer.
Measure the air volume flow rate at each terminal.
Carry out a proportional balance in accordance with the method detailed in
part 4 of this module.

WATER SYSTEMS
Design Information
The following design information is needed:
Layout drawing of system(s) showing all pipework runs and
equipment locations, including valves and flow measuring devices.
Schematic drawings of system(s) showing design water volume
flow rates at pumps, main branch and sub branch pipes and all
terminals; also design static pressure loss across equipment and
terminals.
Pump characteristic curves, including full details of pump design
speed.
Controls schematic, wiring diagram and description of system
operation including details of all interlock arrangements, fuse
ratings, design times for stages starting and motor run up control..

Important Note:
If for any reason system schematic drawings are not
available, full details of system design flow rates and
static pressure drops must still be obtained.

WATER SYSTEMS
Inspections to be Carried Out on Site
The following checks and inspections should be carried out on site
prior to starting a fan.
Check that the building is complete; false ceilings, partitions, doors
and windows should have been installed, windows should be glazed
and the building should be architecturally sealed.
Check that all boilers, pumps, radiators, chillers, fan coil units and
any other terminals have been correctly installed.
Check that hydraulic tests on the pipework have been completed
Check that the pipework system is complete, has been flushed in
accordance with the specification-and has been filled.
Vent the system. See module 6 for details.
Check that there is adequate access to all equipment.
Walk around the system and fully open all valves which are designed
to be normally open, whether isolating or regulating.
Check isolating valves designed to be closed during normal operation
are closed.
Check that local isolators at plant are fully operational.
Check that all fuse ratings are correct.
Check that motor starter overloads have been correctly set.
Check that controls system is complete and fully operational and that
there is an electrical supply to the control panel.

WATER SYSTEMS

Once the above checks have been carried out, the following procedure should
be followed:
Note pump and motor type, serial number, manufacturer and, if fitted, pulley
and belt type and sizes.
Check all safety aspects.
Check that pump(s) rotate in the correct direction.
Start the pump.
Partially close the system main valve.
Check current drawn by pump and ensure that it is not exceeding the 0 design
full load value.
Open main valve until the pump motor current is close to its design valve.
Check pump and motor speed.
Measure the total flow rate at the pump by using the system main measuring
device. The fan should be delivering at least 110% of design.
If the total flow rate is less than 110% open the main valve whilst ensuring that
the pump motor design full load current is not exceeded until approximately
110% is achieved. If the pump will not deliver at least the design volume with
the main valve fully open, the cause should be investigated and resolved. This
type of investigation will be covered in a later module.
Measure the pressure differential across the pump using pressure gauges and
carry out a closed head test to plot the actual pump curve.
Measure the water flow rate at each terminal using the fitted measuring device.
Carry out a proportional balance in accordance with the method detailed in part
4 of this module.
Be prepared to stop the pump and vent the system a number of times if air is
slow to clear. Only commission and record the final readings when the system is
completely free of air.

4. PRINCIPLES OF PROPORTIONAL BALANCING

General
The "Harrison Gibbard" method of
proportional balancing is recognised as being
the simplest and most effective way to
regulate an air or water distribution system.
One of the great advantages is that once a
damper or valve has been set, it should not
need to be altered again.
With this method, it is not necessary to work
with actual design flow rates, percentages are
used instead.

Basic Principles
We shall look at the basic principles of balancing a water system,
although the same principle applies for an air system.
Consider a basic water system serving several terminals (radiators, fan
coil units, etc. for water systems). The flow rate of water to each
terminal represents a proportion or percentage of the total system flow
rate. Unless the regulating devices in the system are altered, these
proportions will remain the same whatever the flow rate is in the system.
For example, let us look at the pipework system serving four identical
fan coil units with the same flow rate requirements:
If the system flow is 1 kg/s
1.0kg/s
(100%) 0.25 kg/s
(25%) (25%)

0.25 kg/s
(25%)

0.25 kg/s
(25%)

0.25kg/s

If the system flow is 2 kg/s


2.0kg/s
(100%) 0.5 kg/s
(25%) (25%)

0.5 kg/s
(25%)

0.5 kg/s
(25%)

0.5kg/s

You can see that although the flow varies, the proportions remain the
same.

Basic Principles
To balance one terminal against each other, therefore, it is only
necessary to adjust the regulating devices to ensure that the
terminals share the total flow in the correct proportions.
It does not matter (within limits) what the actual system volume
flow rate is. After a system has been proportionally balanced
and the correct system flow rate is established, the design flow
rate will be delivered to each terminal, since each has been set
to take its' correct share.
Note: the system flow must be between 130% and 70% of design
to ensure that the balance remains in the majority of cases.

Balancing Procedure
1. Carry out system checks described in part 3 of this module.
2. Fully open all valves in the system.
3. Measure the flow to each terminal and the total system flow using flow
measuring devices and a manometer. Convert the flow rates to percentages of
design. Remember to use the volume square law. (see module 7) for water
systems.
4. If the total flow rate measures greater than 130% throttle the system main flow
regarding valve until a flow rate of below 130% of the design value.
5. Locate the terminal that is discharging the least percentage of design. This is
generally the last terminal in the run. If it is. not, adjust the regulating device at
the last terminal until it is working with the same percentage as the lowest one.
6. The last terminal is then used as an index to which the flows from the other
terminals are compared.
7. Measure the flow from the terminal next to the index and calculate the
percentage flow. Adjust the regulating device at this terminal to make the
percentage flow as close as possible to that of the index.
8. Repeat 7 above for the next terminal and so on until the proportions through all
terminals have been brought into line. As regulating devices are closed down
through the system, more flow will be driven towards the downstream
terminals and the volume to the index terminal will rise. This does not affect
the balancing procedure, since each terminal being adjusted is related in turn
with the index.
9. When all the terminals have been balanced to the index, carry out a total scan
of readings. The terminals should have an equal percentage of the design flow
rate.

Example
Let us look at a simple example having four fan coil units and a
pump.
A measuring station has been installed at each fan coil unit and
in the main pipe. The design system flow rate is 2.4 kg/s, each
fan coil unit required 0.6 kg/s.
An initial scan reveals the 1following:
2
3
4

Main

Design
Flow

2.4 kg/s

0.6kg/s

0.6 kg/s

0.6 kg/s

0.6 kg/s

Actual
Flow

2.6 kg/s

1.2 kg/s

0.8 kg/s

0.4 kg/s

0.2 kg/s

% Design
Flow

108%

200%

133%

67%

33%

Example
In this case, the index terminal is at the end of the run. We
now need to balance the next least favoured terminal to be
indexed to bring it in line with the index. Because we are
closing the regulating device at this terminal, the flow will
rise through
the index:1
Main
2
3
4
Balance
3 to 4

67%
Throttled to 45%

33%
44%

We now need to balance the next least favoured terminal


along to bring it in line with the index:
Balance
133%
44%
2 to 4

Throttled to
63%

62%

Example
We can finally bring the last terminal into line with the
index:Main

Balance
1 to 4

200%
Throttled to
101%

Final

101%

Actual
Flow Kg/s

2.42 kg/s

101%

62%
100%

102%

101%

100%

0.606 kg/s

0.6 kg/s

If we
take a system scan now, we would find the following:
Scan
%
0.606 kg/s

0.612 kg/s

Example
You can see from the example that once a terminal has been
balanced to the index terminal, it's flow rate will rise in
proportion with the index.
The procedure given is also used for large systems with
branches and sub-branches. In this case, each sub-branch is
treated as a separate circuit, that is if the sub-branch is
proportionally balanced. Once each sub-branch has been
balanced, the branches are proportionally balanced against
each other, again by comparing against the index branch,
until the system has been finally balanced.
Whether you are balancing an air-system or a waste system,
you must always work from the index terminal back towards
the fan or pump.