Cooling towers are a critical aspect of the HVAC system in facilities and buildings with large heating and cooling needs such as hospitals, data centers, commercial buildings, shopping centers, and industrial facilities. However, just because a cooling tower is operational does not mean that it is running efficiently or safely. Regular cooling tower cleaning is a vital part of equipment maintenance for any building owner or manager.
Why Regularly Clean Cooling Towers?
Cooling towers, which are giant air scrubbers, need regular cleaning in order to ensure that they function at peak efficiency and to keep residents and visitors safe. Dangerous bacteria can build up in an unmaintained cooling tower, causing illness and even death. Additionally, a cooling tower marred with sludge or corrosion will not transfer heat efficiently, leading to a higher cost of operation for less performance. Most cooling towers should be cleaned twice per year but especially before the warmer months to ensure that the system comes out of its off-season in good repair.
Steps of Cooling Tower Cleaning
Cooling tower cleaning is a process, not a singular task. In order to make the most of your time cleaning the tower, be sure to check the following areas. A skilled cooling tower cleaning company can assist you in this process and help you to establish an appropriate schedule for cleaning based on your individual tower and its condition.
Step 1: Inspect the Tower
The first step when cleaning a cooling tower is to inspect the tower. This should ideally be done at least every month, but do not skip this step on cleaning day either. The inspection will reveal areas that need particular focus during cleaning; pay special attention to the fill media to see if anything has been fouled by buildup, and check the hot water basin for sludge.
Step 2: Protect Yourself
Once you have decided which areas need your attention, do not neglect your own protection. Before you do anything else, turn off the fans and pumps in the tower using OSHA lockout/tagout procedures; they are extraordinarily powerful and can severely harm or even kill someone. The heat and moisture coming from the tower can also be dangerous, especially if it contains Legionella bacteria. You will need to wear both eye protection and respiratory safety features such as masks with the appropriate filter grade.
Step 3: Treat for Bacteria
The bacteria and fungus that is susceptible to growth in cooling towers may cause harm or illness in humans, and so it is necessary to disinfect with proper chemistry prior to cleaning and spraying the tower’s surfaces and water and any chemical compound This will make further cleaning safer and easier while deterring excessive growth in the future.
Step 4: Remove Sludge
The basin is the most common area where sludge can accumulate, and sludge can impact the performance and longevity of the cooling tower. Specialized vacuums have been created to deal with the sludge found in cooling towers; if you do not have one of these systems, a cooling tower cleaning company can provide one for you.
Step 5: Fix Fouling and Clogs
The most important part of the heat exchange that takes place within a cooling tower happens in the fill media. The fill is what directs the moving air within the system so that it can efficiently remove heat and produce cold water, When fill media become clogged or fouled, the cooling does not take place as it should because air cannot come into contact with the heat source as intended. This results in higher electricity bills. Be sure to clean the fill with detergent and replace it entirely if needed.
Step 6: Schedule the Next Cleaning
Once the tower has been cleaned, you will be able to gauge the rate at which it becomes dirty or fouled so that you can anticipate when the next cleaning should occur. Most cooling towers function best when cleaned at least twice per year in addition to regular water treatment to overcome issues such as Legionella and algae growth. If you are unsure how often your cooling tower should be cleaned, talk to the experts so that your system can be evaluated and its unique risks documented.
Work with the Cooling Tower Cleaning Experts
Whether you are looking for a second opinion on the quality of cleaning that your cooling tower has undergone or you simply need someone to clean your cooling tower for you, be sure to work with experts who have years of experience dealing with some of the main dangers of cooling towers, like Legionella bacteria. The professionals at Tower Water set the standard in water treatment and can offer guidance regarding the state of your cooling tower and its safety. Reach out to schedule an appointment with an expert.