Cooling towers are a critical element of many buildings and facilities because of their role as the primary cooling machine that produces temperate air throughout the building. However, cooling towers must be regularly maintained and cleaned in order to keep them safe to operate; not only can they become dangerous when not properly cleaned, but they may also deteriorate prematurely and cost money in early repair and replacement. To ensure that your cleaning tower is maintained correctly, review the following items and how often they should be performed.
The Dangers of an Unmaintained Cooling Tower
Cooling towers begin to degrade over time due not only to wear and tear on the equipment but also the growth and development of a variety of contaminants, such as biological materials and corrosion. One of the most pressing dangers in an untreated cooling tower is Legionella, a gram-negative bacteria that thrives in freshwater, most commonly between 77 degrees and 108 degrees Fahrenheit.
Legionella is a pressing risk at any facility because it can cause severe or even fatal illness in humans. While many cases result in Pontiac fever, a flu-like sickness that is primarily only dangerous to the same groups of individuals for whom the seasonal flu would be of concern, Legionella may also cause other types of illness. The most dangerous is Legionnaires’ disease, which may result in severe and sudden inflammation of the lungs. Legionnaires’ disease requires immediate medical attention, and it is important that any facility that operates a cooling tower maintain a strict cleaning schedule to keep the people in its vicinity safe and healthy.
Basic Regular Maintenance on Commonly Worn Parts
Some aspects of cooling tower cleaning should be performed regularly, and others only need to be checked once or twice a year. Among the most common areas to check are the water that feeds the cooling tower and the parts related to it. Each month, you should perform a visual inspection of the tower itself to catch anything unusual, and at the same time, evaluate the water level and adjust it if necessary. While you are checking the water level, consider its clarity and whether your filtration system is doing its job.
While you are performing these monthly tasks, clean any sump strainers that are clogged, and make sure the make-up valve and float ball are operating as intended.
More Advanced Cleaning of Specific Equipment
Some features of a cooling tower do not necessarily need to be examined monthly unless there is reason to believe that a problem exists. Some types of motors will require occasional greasing on the motor bearings, and quarterly is a great time to double-check their condition. At the same time, do not forget to examine the fan and motor assemblies, as well as their bolts; it is likely that at least some fan assemblies will need to be retightened to the correct torque. Now is also an opportunity to clean and flush any spray nozzles, even if they do not show evidence of obstruction.
Attending to the Sump
While monthly and quarterly tasks will take up the majority of your time spent cleaning your cooling tower, some systems will require attention once or twice a year. The cold water sump should be cleaned thoroughly and flushed twice per year; ideally, this occurs in line with the changing of seasons so that a cooling tower that has been less active during the cooler months can be thoroughly cleaned prior to ramping up operations during the warm weather. During the sump inspection and maintenance, take the time to visually inspect the tower again and make note of its condition. Maintenance that should be performed monthly or quarterly may need revisiting, even if it is not time yet, depending on the age and overall wear of the cooling tower.
Water Treatment the Daily
Water treatment should be monitored closely as this service generally determines the efficiency, effectiveness, longevity and health of the cooling tower system. It can not be minimized how important water treatment is and the role it plays in keeping the system in check on a daily basis. Over the past few years, computerized control systems have been integrated to monitor these systems in real time, testing the water constantly, and making adjustments to chemicals and water chemistry as demand and temperature changes. The systems can alarm building personnel and service providers to a problem or concern. This will be the largest component that will determine the frequency of cleaning that will be required. Without water treatment cooling towers will fail in all aspects
Work with the Cooling Tower Maintenance Experts
Whether you would like to establish a cooling tower cleaning plan for the first time or you would like to leave cleaning, maintenance and water treatment in the hands of a professional so that you can focus your attention on other things, be sure to rely on the experts. The technicians at Tower Water set the standard in water treatment and would be happy to evaluate the health of your cooling tower and provide personalized guidance on the unique risk factors of your system. Reach out to schedule an appointment with an expert to evaluate your cooling tower’s maintenance plan and set up a schedule for regular cleaning so that you can benefit from improved longevity and cost efficiency in your facility.