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MRI Chiller Failure: Save Helium with a Water Bypass

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When your MRI scanner's chiller isn't working properly, watching your helium boil off can feel an awful lot like watching money burn. Fortunately, there's a way to slow down boil off and reduce your losses while you wait for HVAC service personnel to arrive and resuscitate your chiller: a city water bypass.

A city water bypass (CWB), also known as a city water changeover or simply city water backup, allows you to temporarily cool your MRI with water from your local municipal lines. Keep reading for more details on this MRI rescue tool that can help you save big time on MRI maintenance and service.

Do I Have a City Water Bypass? 

For every site our service team sees that has a CWB, we see one that doesn't. If you're not sure whether your site has one, look around for a cabinet like the one from General Air Products pictured below (hint: start in your equipment room and follow the pipes).

If you find a CWB, congrats! You have a sound stopgap measure if your chiller fails. The water running through your local lines is in the same temperature neighborhood as the coolant in your chiller. It can cool your cold head compressor directly while you wait for a permanent fix.


How Can I Get a CWB?

If you don't find a CWB, don't worry. The HVAC company that performs regular service on your chiller can install one for you and teach you how to activate it when you need it. The cost to install a CWB is roughly $6,000- $8,000 (pricey, we know) but can save you thousands more in helium costs over its lifetime.

How Long Can I Rely on My CWB?

A CWB is not intended to be a long-term solution. It will slow helium loss, but it is not a replacement for a functional chiller. If your chiller fails, the next thing you should do after switching to your CWB is get on the phone with your HVAC provider to service the chiller. To put it another way: if you get a flat tire, a "doughnut" spare will get you to the garage, but you'll need a new full-size tire ASAP to get back up to full speed.

The Takeaway

When your chiller gives you trouble, a city water bypass is a valuable tool for mitigating the losses you might incur in both helium and scanning downtime. Take a look around your facility- you might already have one. If not, the investment is well worth considering.

Do you have chiller error or failure right now? The Block Service Team can supply a replacement chiller and facilitate the replacement for you. Contact our reps directly at 877-712-7412 for assistance.

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