Cooling towers serve a critical role in many buildings and facilities by providing cooling consistently across all areas of a facility.
However, many parts of the United States do not require the use of a cooling tower all year long due to cooler weather in the fall and winter.
Companies may choose to let their cooling towers idle and then start them up again in the spring when warm weather returns.
However, this startup process poses certain risks for the tower and the people around it, and it is important to properly maintain the tower immediately during and after startup to keep it safe and functioning effectively.
The Dangers of Cooling Tower Idling
A cooling tower that has been idling during the colder months is at a higher risk of a wide variety of problems. Primary among these is the development of bacteria and biological growth due to the stagnant system.
However, equipment can also continue to degrade, even when the system is not in use. Cooling towers that have not been running consistently pose a health threat if their startup process is not strategically handled, and the system may be less efficient and effective than before, should you elect to skip maintenance after startup.
What to Do After Starting Up a Cooling Tower
After starting up a cooling tower, any business owner or building manager should undergo both preventive maintenance, which includes calibration of equipment, and a thorough inspection to deal with any dangers such as bacteria.
The most comprehensive method for caring for a cooling tower during startup is to work with experienced tower maintenance and water treatment experts who can analyze the specific needs and risks of your individual system.
An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, and this could not be truer than in cooling tower maintenance as well.
Ideally, you will continue to run your cooling tower periodically even during the cold months to ensure that the chemical agents in the water continue to circulate and prevent the proliferation of bacteria and reduce corrosion and scale.
However, it is also important to thoroughly clean the tower before it begins to operate so that biofilms, sludge and other concerns do not impact its operation or foul any of the equipment.
A Thorough Inspection
The next step during cooling tower startup is a thorough inspection. This includes evaluation of the current water quality and any bacteria present.
In particular, it is important to remain vigilant for Legionella due to its risk of human illness and even death. Legionella can thrive in tepid water between 77 degrees and 108 degrees Fahrenheit, and if a cooling tower has not been operational for some time and has thus failed to continue to circulate its water treatment chemicals to keep Legionella at bay, the system may be on the brink of an outbreak.
Simply restarting the system may not be sufficient to kill off colonies of Legionella that have established while the tower was idling. The current state of the system, including any new corrosion or scaling, can provide a safe haven for bacterial growth that was previously not an issue.
As part of the startup maintenance that should be conducted on any cooling tower, the equipment in the system should be re-calibrated to ensure that it is functioning as intended and at peak efficiency.
This includes calibrating conductivity controllers and cleaning probes that may have become fouled during the previous season and subsequent idling time.
Additionally, a technician should check the cooling tower’s controls, water treatment controls, and chemical feed equipment and perform any other calibration that your specific system may benefit from.
A cooling tower that is working more efficiently will last longer without significant repairs and reduce the overall cost of operating the tower, because it will not require more energy to perform the same function.
Work with the Cooling Tower Maintenance and Water Treatment Experts
Whether you believe that you have any issue in your cooling tower that needs to be addressed or you are going to start up your cooling tower for the first time this year and want to ensure that the process goes smoothly, be sure to work with water treatment and maintenance experts.
Leave the treatment and startup of your tower to the pros, who have the tools and equipment to work effectively and stay safe in the presence of potentially deadly Legionella.
The water treatment experts at Tower Water set the standard in water treatment and cooling tower maintenance and would be happy to offer personalized guidance that is unique to the specific risks and features of your individual cooling tower.
Reach out to schedule an appointment with a professional so that you can focus on other important tasks.