Management Reliability & Maintenance Center

Build A Durable, Reliable Heat Transfer System

EP Editorial Staff | February 1, 2023

Follow these basic procedures to have confidence that your heat-transfer system will perform to specification and operate reliably.

The design of a thermal fluid system will determine how well the fluid performs once in use.

Factors such as pipework positioning, ventilation, and installation will have an impact on the system’s lifespan. Taking the time to develop the best system for the application is a worthwhile investment. 

Design considerations

When designing a new heat-transfer system, carefully considering each component will reduce the frequency and severity of future problems. Matching the fluid type and operating temperature to the system and application will preserve fluid life and reduce machine downtime. It may be necessary to adhere to industry-specific guidelines, such as using food-grade heat-transfer oil in food, beverage, and pharmaceutical processing. 


Talking to insurers before installation is an important step. They can advise on factors such as sampling frequency, sampling procedures, and what training is needed. If a heat-transfer system is not managed to the insurer’s stipulation, coverage may be voided. 

Successful set up

Some components in a system only have a function during installation and must be removed before introducing thermal oil. A strainer, for example, is only required during installation to catch debris that could enter the system during construction. Keeping strainers and other unneeded parts in the system can lead to carbon build up, causing flow issues. System designers offer advice on which components to remove. 

Prior to introducing heat-transfer fluid, clean and flush the system to remove any contaminants. Cleaning and flushing fluid should be circulated in the system at 108 C (226 F) to 122C (252 F). This range is key because it activates detergent additives in the cleaning fluid, allowing them to mix with suspended loose particles. 

After cleaning, the system can be filled with heat-transfer oil. Once the system is circulating at proper levels in an expansion tank, apply heat in 15 C (27 F)-degree increments until the transfer fluid reaches 105 C (221 F). 

Water in the system can lead to contamination with particulate matter and iron, so it’s important to remove any water during start up. This can be done by increasing the temperature slowly, in line with system conditions. In some instances, a Light Ends Removal Kit (LERK) can be used to remove water. Once all water is removed, the heat can be increased to 125 C (257 F), then in increments, until the fluid reaches operation temperature. EP

For more information from Global Heat Transfer, Chicago, visit or email


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