Summer is a wonderful season filled with warm weather, blooming trees and flowers. However, with the blossoming trees comes cottonwood seeds. Eastern Cottonwood is one of the fastest growing hardwood trees in North America. I'm sure we've all seen the fluffy white seeds floating through the air. Unfortunately, these tend to gather on the surface of heat exchangers used to remove heat from air compressors and refrigeration units.
Cottonwood seeds gather and restrict airflow on a heat exchanger and diminish the contact surface area. In short, this means that it can no longer disperse the rejected heat. This can result in the overheating and shutdown of the machine.
Cottonwood trees can seed for weeks during the warmer months. During this time heat exchangers may require cleaning weekly, daily or even several times per day.
It's best practice to clean heat exchangers with a vacuum. Cleaning the shroud and guard is prudent to prevent the exchanger from contamination at start up. The use of compressed air is not recommended.
It is necessary to perform a job hazard analysis before performing this task. It's also important to shut down the compressor before cleaning as there is a fan inside along with electrical wiring. A proper fitting respirator, safety glasses, and gloves are some of the personal protective equipment that should be used to carry out this task.