With the summer season quickly approaching, it’s crucial to ensure that your building’s cooling tower system is in good working condition. As temperatures rise, your building’s cooling system will be working hard to keep your indoor environment comfortable, but if it’s not functioning correctly, it can lead to costly repairs or increased operation costs.
It is important to understand some of the common warning signs that your system might fail so that you are prepared.
How to Tell if Your HVAC System Is Going to Fail
The summer season poses significant challenges for cooling towers and HVAC systems, as they have to cope with the intense heat and increased usage. This can put a strain on the system, requiring it to work harder and endure more stress.
During this season, pay extra attention to how often you use the system, and how much extra maintenance attention you need to give the system to keep it running. If you are regularly servicing your system, or notice it is warm in your building despite the system constantly running, these are signs of an issue.
Here are some issues you may discover, and how to prevent them from occurring in your own cooling tower or HVAC system.
No Cool Air
If there is not enough cool air flowing through your building to cool it off during the hot summer days it could be a sign that your system cannot handle the load or demand. This can be the result of a blockage or clog in your system, or even a mechanical issue.
Cooling towers are essentially a heat exchanger that removes heat from processed water. Recall when you had your tower cleaned last, and perform a quick visual inspection. If your fill is dirty or clogged, or you see that water is not being evenly distributed over the fill this will reduce your cooling capacity.
Build up of dirt, debris, or scale, will limit the removal of heat in your system and reduce cooling output while also causing your system to work harder.
Unit Constantly Running
Though the summer will increase your HVAC units use, it is not normal for your system to be constantly running day and night. If your system is constantly running, it is because it is trying to compensate for demand.
This issue goes hand in hand with having reduced cool air in that it is usually the result of a dirty fill, scale, or poor water distribution dampening your tower’s ability to dissipate heat.
Poor heat exchange efficiency in your cooling tower system can cause your unit to constantly run because the tower is not returning water that has cooled enough and meeting the demand.
Cooling Tower Basin Has Excess Dirt or Debris
Your cooling tower is essentially an air scrubber, taking in outside air and using it to reduce the temperature of water. The sump of a cooling tower can collect various types of debris, including organic matter such as leaves and algae, as well as inorganic matter such as dirt and metal particles.
When debris accumulates in the sump of a cooling tower, it can reduce the flow of water through the system. Additionally, the accumulation of debris in the sump can also create a favorable environment for bacterial growth, such as Legionella, which can lead to health concerns if not properly addressed.
If you notice your sump is overdue for cleaning, and contains excess debris, make sure to schedule a tower cleaning sooner rather than later. Clean your tower bi-annually, before and after the cooling season to avoid any issues.
Condenser Water Sample Not Clear
When inspecting your cooling tower for performance, feel free to take the extra step and also take a sample of the process condenser water from the sump. A sample from the sump is representative of the water circulating throughout the system.
If the condenser water is not clear, it could indicate the presence of suspended solids, algae, or other contaminants. Suspended solids, as we’ve mentioned above, can reduce the heat transfer efficiency and contribute to the formation of scale and corrosion on heat exchange surfaces.
Algae growth can also reduce the system’s efficiency and contribute to the formation of biofilm, which can harbor bacteria. If the water is not clear, it is important to identify the source of the problem.
This may involve cleaning the cooling tower basin or sump, adjusting the chemical treatment program, or taking other steps to improve water quality.
Frozen Evaporator Coils
When investigating what could be reducing your building’s cooling capacity, you may want to inspect your air handlers as well. The chilled water from your cooling system usually leads to an air handler containing a coil, which is where cool air is generated.
If you notice your coils are frozen or have frost on them, this is a sign of an issue. Evaporator coils in a cooling tower system can freeze for a variety of reasons including, low refrigerant levels, insufficient airflow across the coils, or build up of dirt or debris on the coils.
The refrigerant in your chiller system should be monitored and refilled if needed. Check your air plenums to see what is restricting air flow and if there is a blockage.
As for debris build up, this can be from airborne dirt flowing into the building, oil or grease, or even mildew if they are exposed to damp conditions. It is important to regularly inspect your air handler and keep your coils clean.
Work with the HVAC Experts at Tower Water
Your HVAC system is critical for your comfort especially during the summer season. It is important that you work with a water treatment company that is experienced in preventative maintenance for your system and is familiar with how to resolve any issues that arise as well.
A professional water treatment company will not only be able to diagnose these issues, but can provide the proper maintenance, and treatment for your system. However, taking care of it requires the expertise of a professional.
The experts at Tower Water can help you to keep your HVAC system running efficiently, especially during summer’s peak demand. Reach out to us at (212) 518-6475 to learn more or to schedule an appointment today.