Cooling towers are some of the most complex aspects of a building’s HVAC system, and they can pose a number of unique problems. However, they are also valuable tools for efficiently controlling the temperature of a large building and fulfilling the structure’s unique HVAC needs.
Thus, regular maintenance of the tower is critical for proper operation, not only of the equipment but of the workflow and occupancy of the building as well. Legionella testing is one of the most important aspects of regular maintenance, and to understand which areas are most at risk, you must first understand why Legionella is dangerous to begin with.
Why Test Cooling Towers For Legionella?
Legionella is a term that many business owners are likely already familiar with because of the strict compliance mandates that facilities must abide by when they operate cooling towers. The reason why Legionella testing is so stringent is that Legionella can be exceptionally dangerous to humans.
This gram-negative bacteria can travel large distances—up to several miles—on water droplets that are expelled from an infected cooling tower during its normal operation, in which it produces steam and vapor as part of heat exchange. When these droplets come into contact with humans, the Legionella bacteria can quickly cause severe or even life-threatening illnesses.
Most commonly, this takes the form of a mild to moderate flu-like sickness called Pontiac fever; however, severe cases may present with the bacteria’s namesake Legionnaires’ disease, which generates rapid and extensive swelling and inflammation of the lungs that can prove fatal.
Many individuals do not seek medical attention in time because they are not even aware that they were exposed to bacteria. Thus, in order to keep the people who live and work in the area around your cooling tower safe, it is vital that you regularly test your cooling towers for Legionella.
The Highest Risk Aspects Of A Cooling Tower
Cooling towers are some of the most prolific spreaders of Legionella, largely due to their unique set of risk factors. One such risk is the temperature at which most water passes through a cooling tower.
Legionella thrives best in tepid water between 77 degrees and 108 degrees Fahrenheit, which is easy to achieve with lukewarm water being piped through equipment that is sitting in the sun.
Additionally, dead legs where water does not often flow out can provide safe havens for Legionella bacteria to proliferate unchecked since water that is regularly circulating with biocides and other treatment chemicals does not complete its circuit in a dead leg.
Methods Of Reducing And Controlling Risk
Remove Dead Legs
One of the simplest methods of controlling the risk of Legionella in a cooling tower is to remove dead legs or drain them regularly. Additionally, consistent Legionella testing is a critical element, as it helps you to evaluate the state of your water quality and make quick, comprehensive decisions about how to mitigate the risk.
It is also important that you control corrosion within your cooling tower, because the integrity of the system may be compromised by weakened structures, and Legionella can thrive and find safety in the pockmarked or scaled walls of your piping if they are not regularly maintained.
Lower Water Temperature
Additional measures that can be taken include lowering the water temperature when possible to discourage Legionella growth and population, as well as keeping your cooling tower out of the sun. This can be achieved by fitting sides to the tower that keep sunlight out of the basin, which not only helps to control the water temperature but also slows the development of algae, which can foul the system and result in premature repairs and part replacement.
A comprehensive water testing and treatment plan is another vital tool, and a skilled Legionella testing company can assist you with developing a strategy that suits the specific needs and risks of your individual tower. Regular water treatment benefits you not only from a compliance standpoint but also in safety as you successfully manage your water to reduce the ability of Legionella to proliferate and turn into an outbreak.
Work With Our NYC Legionella Compliance Experts
Whether you are looking for advice for your water treatment needs or require Legionella testing for compliance and safety, be sure to work with the professionals.
The experts at Tower Water would be happy to evaluate the unique risk factors and layout of your cooling tower system and offer personalized guidance about how to overcome the challenges posed by this potentially dangerous bacteria. Reach out to schedule an evaluation with an expert to get started with testing your cooling tower for Legionella today.