Anyone who is responsible for the ownership and operation of a cooling tower likely has a schedule for ensuring proper maintenance of the tower. However, some times of year are better options for cooling tower cleaning and maintenance than others. In order to decide when you should consider cleaning and maintaining your tower, you must first understand which pieces of equipment can cause problems and why.
What Is Cooling Tower Maintenance?
Cooling tower maintenance is a process in which a tower’s equipment and machinery are revitalized and treated to keep them in good working order. Typically, a facility may do this bi-annually or twice per years, sometimes in accordance with local government regulations on how cooling towers must be operated in the area. Cleaning and maintenance extend across multiple facets of the tower, from the water that flows through the fill, mist eliminators to the metal equipment like fans, basins, distribution decks and nozzles that store or move water, air, and vapor through the tower.
Maintenance is a critical part of the responsible operation of a cooling tower. Without it, dangerous bacteria such as Legionella can spread and cause serious illness in humans, and the facility may experience increased costs to operate the cooling tower if its machinery is not properly maintained.
One of the most critical aspects of cooling tower maintenance is regular and continuous water treatment. The quality of water used in the tower will have a dramatic impact on the overall lifespan, efficiency, and effectiveness of a cooling tower. Water that has not been treated may contain Legionella, a potentially dangerous bacteria that can cause Pontiac fever and Legionnaires’ disease in humans. While the former is typically no more serious than the flu, the latter causes severe pneumonia that can be fatal in as many as one in ten people who fall ill.
In addition to biological threats like bacteria, water that has not been treated can pose a problem directly to the machinery of the cooling tower. Hard water or imbalanced pH levels can contribute to scaling and corrosion, which impacts the flow of water through the system and the heat exchange that occurs within the cooling tower. This can result in less effective cooling and the degradation of equipment over time, leading to costly repairs.
Disinfecting of Fill, Deck and Basins
Another critical element of cooling tower cleaning and maintenance is regular disinfecting of the fill, distribution deck and nozzles and basin of the tower. Debris and dirt can build up in the cooling tower basin, leading to less efficient operation. This cleaning process is a great opportunity to check strainers and filters as well.
The housings surrounding the fans of a cooling tower are notoriously difficult to reach with chemical treatments, so it is important to regularly clean and lubricate the housing and motors so that bacteria seeking to colonize on the fans have no food sources. The sacrificial anodes on the chiller heads can also be replaced at this time.
When to Perform Cleaning and Maintenance
Tasks such as scrubbing fans and treating water may seem to be projects that can be completed at any time, but cooling tower cleaning and maintenance is best done early spring and late summer or early fall. Because early spring will quickly lead to warmer temperatures and a greater need for the cooling tower to operate efficiently, this time of year is the best option for undergoing regular maintenance. Because cooling towers play a critical role in regulating the temperature during the warmest months of the year, it is vital that any facility owner or manager complete maintenance and water treatment before the busy season so that people in or near the facility are not exposed to Legionella and other dangerous bacteria that enter the air through the tower’s vapor production.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also recommends that cleaning and maintenance occur prior to spring startup so that biofilms can be removed before the summer cooling season. The winter layup of a system, using serious corrosion inhibitors and long lasting biocides is critical to any cooling tower which only operates seasonally and provide protection against degradation and biologic growth.
Reach Out to the Cooling Tower Maintenance Experts
Whether you would like an expert to review your maintenance plans and water treatment, or you would like to set up a cleaning and maintenance schedule for the first time, be sure to work with experts who have years of experience maintaining cooling towers. The professionals at Tower Water set the standard in water treatment and would be happy to assist you in keeping your cooling tower working at peak efficiency with minimal risk of airborne bacteria and equipment fouling. Reach out to schedule an appointment today.