When most business owners think of water treatment, they mostly envision wastewater and the responsibilities specific to those who operate cooling towers. However, systems that utilize one or more chillers must also keep water treatment goals in mind, even in closed loop systems that seemingly have no outside forces to impact their degeneration. If you rely on chillers at your facility, be sure to evaluate your current water treatment plan in light of this specific equipment, and if you do not yet have a strategy, the best time to start that process is now.
Why Chiller Water Treatment Matters: Closed And Open Loop Systems
Chillers can operate in a number of ways, but regardless of which type you have, water treatment is still important. A great misconception exists that closed loop chillers—in which the water in the system is constantly recycled and is not exposed to outside risks—do not require water treatment. After all, if the system is closed, how could anything harmful get in?
The truth is that whether you operate a closed loop or open loop water system, you will still need to pay careful attention to the water treatment strategy that you rely on, and you should treat your chiller regularly, not just once. Without consistent, customized treatment based on data, you could experience one or more of the following common problems that untreated chillers face.
Bacterial Overgrowth Can Be A Health Risk
As with any water system in a commercial facility, chillers too are prone to the development of bacterial growth. While cooling towers are the largest culprits behind outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease, chillers can harbor the same bacteria, and it is vital for the health and safety of all of the people in the area of your building that you regularly treat your chiller to kill Legionella bacteria. Legionella can travel for miles as aerosolized water droplets, and even non-harmful bacteria can build up in the system and interfere with its performance.
Corrosion And Scaling Interfere With Heat
Keeping your chiller safe in the scope of human health is only one of the many reasons to ensure that it receives the treatment that it needs. Untreated water could be coursing through your system with pH levels and mineral composition that is not ideal for your equipment and pipes. Over time, this may lead to corrosion, scaling and buildup that directly interfere with the heat transfer properties of your machinery.
When scaling thickens the surfaces through which heat must be exchanged, your system will either work less effectively or consume more energy to output the same result. Both scenarios are undesirable and can cost you money in the short and long term. However, such problems can be addressed early on, before they become large issues, by implementing a comprehensive water treatment and system cleaning strategy.
Sludge May Cause Blockages In Condensers
There are many elements in your water that can cause a buildup of sludge, from glycol breaking down over time to the growth of unwanted bacteria and other biological materials. When this sludge buildups in pipes, especially those that lead to and from the condenser in your system, you could experience blockages and clogs that prevent your chiller from working as it should.
The process of clearing such a blockage only temporarily solves the problem and introduces external particulates if you have a closed loop system, further compromising your chiller’s future health. Sludge can be definitively managed with a water treatment plan that breaks down biological materials and inhibits their future growth. Still, you should physically clean your system from time to time; even once a year will make a significant difference.
Long-Term Damage To Critical Machinery
When sludge, biofilms and other contaminants are allowed to build up in your chiller without water treatment, they can begin to affect the machinery too, not just the pipes. Moving parts, filters and other necessary equipment may become fouled, leading to an unexpected repair in the best case and a full (and premature) replacement at worst. Water treatment is the ounce of prevention that is better than a pound of cure later on.
Trust The Experts To Help You Navigate Appropriate Water Treatment For Your Chiller
Whether you are just considering water treatment for your chiller for the first time or you have a strategy already but it is not as effective as you would like, be sure to consult with the pros. The experts at Tower Water set the standard in water treatment and would be happy to help you develop a customized plan for your chiller. Reach out to learn more and schedule an appointment.