Any individual responsible for managing or maintaining a facility that uses a cooling tower must be sure to regularly clean the tower.
Even if the cooling tower continues to operate as intended, leaving the tower to build up more and more debris and detritus can cause a wide variety of issues over time, leading to both health concerns and the potential need to entirely replace the cooling tower system prematurely.
Why Clean Cooling Towers Regularly?
Cooling towers offer a valuable asset to facilities and large buildings: providing consistent cool air in every room. This means that if something is wrong with the cooling tower, the entire building will experience the consequences.
One of the primary reasons that cooling towers should be cleaned is because an unmaintained tower can quickly become a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria, especially Legionella. Legionella is a bacteria that thrives in freshwater and can be transferred to humans when they breathe in water droplets in the air that have come from a water source contaminated by the microorganism.
Once Legionella enters the human body, it can quickly cause severe illness or even death as a result of significant lung inflammation. Cleaning cooling towers regularly keeps people safe from this risk.
Additionally, a clean tower will operate more effectively, cutting down on potentially expensive energy bills and ensuring that the cooling is consistent throughout the building.
The Major Risk Factors in Dirty Towers
Dirty cooling towers can experience fouling or even complete machinery degradation throughout the entire system if they are not cleaned regularly. Some of the most important areas to pay attention to are the strainers , which can quickly become clogged with debris and built-up biologicial material.
This buildup can also occur on the walls of the basin and throughout the system, affecting its ability to transfer heat as intended.
When the cooling tower must work harder to transfer the same amount of heat through a now-thicker machinery wall, the building owner will see the consequences in their utility bills.
Another major risk in dirty cooling towers is the accumulation of biofilms, or slime that are actually colonies of microorganisms that are held together by a microbial secretion.
Biofilms are one of the root causes behind many of a cooling tower’s most common failings, from clogs and fouling to the cooling tower maintenance professionals, because it can be dangerous. Personal protective equipment is required, and knowledge of how to fully shut down the fans and other dangerous equipment in the system is critical.
The basin and other surfaces can be scrubbed clean, and if biofilms or Legionella are present, they will be treated and a new strategy developed to prevent them in the future.
During cleaning, strainers, filters and pumps will also be cleaned, and belts and fans may be realigned if necessary to avoid preventable wear and unwanted rumbling or vibrations. Some bearings and machinery may be lubricated as well.
How Often Should Cooling Towers be Cleaned?
Cooling towers should be cleaned regularly; any time they have been in a low-use state, such as during the winter, they should be thoroughly cleaned and maintained before starting up again. Additionally, towers that continue to struggle with microbial growth should be cleaned more often.
OSHA recommends cleaning at least twice a year, with particular attention to spring cleaning after the long winter lapse in usage.
However, for the safest operation, many businesses and facilities opt to have their cooling towers cleaned every quarter to ensure that potentially fatal illnesses resulting from Legionella do not arise.
The cost of more frequent cleanings is offset by the monetary savings in energy bills and the lack of any need to replace the cooling tower equipment due to preventable failure.
Work with the Cooling Tower Maintenance Experts
If your cooling tower needs to be cleaned or you would like to establish a reliable schedule for consistent maintenance of your tower, be sure to work with a company that is familiar with important aspects like Legionella prevention and water treatment.
The experts at Tower Water set the standard in water treatment and would be happy to evaluate the state of your cooling tower and assist with both preventive maintenance and treatment of any existing issues.
Reach out to make an appointment and speak with a technician who can review the unique risk factors of your individual system and provide guidance and routine maintenance and cleaning services.