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Summertime heat can take its toll on cooling systems already burdened with high engine operating temperatures. As a result, proper coolant and cooling system maintenance becomes increasingly important to maximizing system life and maintaining efficiency.
Field testing performed at every preventive maintenance interval is vital to maintaining both an efficient cooling system and coolant formulation that protect and prolong system life. It ensures that system components are functioning properly, glycol levels are maintained at 50 to 60 percent for boil point control, inhibitor levels are maintained for proper metal protection, and the pH level is within OEM and the coolant manufacturer’s specifications for adequate corrosion control.
Just how important is coolant formulation and system efficiency? A 50/50 coolant mix – 50 percent concentrate to 50 percent water – brings the coolant’s boil point to 225 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level. That’s the low end for an engine today that operates at 225°F to 250°F. But every added pound of pressure raises that boil point another 2.7°F. So a 14-pound pressure cap raises the boil point of a 50/50 formulation to about 263°F. If a pressure cap or relief valve is defective or glycol levels are inadequate, boil point is right back down to engine operating temperature.
About a 40° buffer provides adequate protection against boiling. When conventional coolants are allowed to boil, glycol decomposition can cause several problems. The chemical reaction results in oxalic acid. This “burnt” coolant has a very distinctive dark brown-gold color and an even more distinctive odor. It creates a “varnish” that covers internal system components, prevents the system from operating properly and is extremely difficult to correct. This varnish must be flushed, the system thoroughly cleaned and any hot spots corrected before new coolant can be introduced. Monitoring system condition and strip testing the coolant at every PM can keep operations running smoothly and without unexpected interruption.
Further laboratory testing on a quarterly schedule can identify many issues caused by excessive heat before catastrophic failure occurs and assist maintenance management in determining appropriate preventive maintenance testing regimes.
About Polaris Laboratories LLC
Polaris Laboratories provides complete testing and analysis for oils, fuels, coolants and water-based fluids. The company’s customer base is diverse with a heavy emphasis on the transportation, industrial, oil and gas, off-highway and power generation industries. Our efforts to train and educate our customers on the importance of oil analysis, saves many of them millions of dollars a year in lost production and equipment replacement costs. Headquartered in Indianapolis since 1999, Polaris has grown from a staff of five, to more than 80 employees with laboratories also located in Houston and Salt Lake City. State-of-the-art facilities and instrumentation, highly skilled laboratory technicians and data analysts, and a national team of technical sales and service professionals have positioned Polaris at the forefront of the oil analysis industry. For more information, visit www.polarislabs1.com.