Owners and operators of cooling towers often need to manage multiple important tasks, such as tower inspection. One of the most important maintenance tasks that any cooling tower owner needs to conduct is treating the water for Legionella and certifying that this process has been completed so that visitors and residents of the building stay safe and healthy. Once a cooling tower has been inspected by a professional, a legionella certificate will be administered to certify that there is not a presence of legionella bacteria in the water.
What Does It Mean To Have A Legionella Certificate?
A Legionella certificate indicates that a facility was tested and treated for Legionella bacteria. Most states require that cooling towers be registered, maintained, and tested regularly. Annual certification indicates that you are staying apprised of your cooling tower’s Legionella situation and taking appropriate steps to curb the bacteria’s growth in your system.
Annual Legionella Certification Basics
The annual certification process for Legionella compliance is simple. A Legionella risk assessor will come to the property to examine the cooling towers and perform a number of tests to determine the presence of Legionella and whether it is within government allowed limits. This discovery will inform the next steps, which may either be a continuation of the current plan or the treatment of Legionella and the development of a new strategy going forward.
Cooling Tower Equipment Must Be Inspected
The first step in the Legionella certificate process is for an experienced assessor to inspect the cooling towers. This includes examining the equipment for fouling, leaks, and corrosion, among a number of other criteria. Dead legs where water does not often move can pose a significant threat, so those will also be noted, as will the presence of any biofilms.
A general overview of the system will be taken so that the inspector is aware of any risk factors that can contribute to the growth and proliferation of Legionella; even treated water can sometimes still harbor the bacteria, such as if a biofilm is preventing certain legs of the system from achieving the correct temperature.
Cooling Tower Equipment Must Be Tested
Next, the inspector will test the cooling tower equipment. This can involve moving water through the system to discover points of issue, and it also involves taking samples of the water to see if any Legionella is currently present. Even if you have a plan in place to treat water for Legionella and it has been successful for many years, you must still undergo this step in order to achieve your Legionella certificate.
The Cooling Tower Equipment Must Be Cleaned And Disinfected
Keeping your cooling tower equipment clean and disinfected is critical, even if you do not currently have an active Legionella population. The equipment in a cooling tower is prone to sediment and corrosion that can offer an appealing breeding ground for Legionella bacteria and a safe place to hide away from the smooth surfaces of undamaged pipes. Cleaning the equipment in your cooling tower can break down natural sediment and remove some of these opportune locations for Legionella to hide. Additionally, the water itself can be treated at this point. Chlorine is a common option, especially for cooling towers, as are biocides that can also help you tackle issues with biofilms. You may need to change the temperature of your water during cleaning to create an environment that is not favorable to Legionella.
Why Is Legionella Harmful?
Legionella is a potentially dangerous bacteria that can cause a number of illnesses in humans. Cooling towers are especially prone to spreading the Legionella bacteria, and people in the vicinity may be vulnerable to Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever as a result. While Pontiac fever is a flu-like illness that tends to be mild and lasts a few days, Legionnaires’ disease can be much more severe. Legionnaires’ disease causes infection of the lungs and potentially severe pneumonia, which can be fatal in up to 10% of people who develop the disease.
Legionnaires’ disease is spread to humans through inhalation of water droplets. Because cooling towers operate by evaporating water, Legionella present in a cooling tower’s water system can quickly become a serious problem that is harmful to all humans in the vicinity.
Speak To The Legionella Certification Experts At Tower Water
Regardless of whether you have already developed a Legionella strategy for your cooling tower system, it is critical that you speak with Legionella certification experts to ensure that you are remaining compliant with any local regulations on Legionella at your facility. The skilled technicians at Tower Water set the standard in water treatment and would be happy to test your water and cooling system to ensure that it is both safe and effective.
Tower Water can recommend changes to your cooling tower system that may prolong its lifespan, make it more efficient, and keep it safe. Reach out to schedule an appointment to speak to a Legionella expert and ensure that your cooling towers are free of this dangerous bacteria.