A cooling tower is essential to your building’s mechanical systems. Without it, your HVAC equipment cannot properly condition the indoor air environment to a lower temperature level to make it comfortable for the occupants in the building. The cooling tower may also be used as a heat rejection system for the building’s other operating equipment, such as large refrigeration systems in food processing plants, or to cool circulating fluid used in chemical plants and oil refineries.
Yet cooling tower operations can place a hamper of operational budgets if they are not properly maintained. An inefficient cooling tower could waste 15% in electricity due to running for longer periods of time. By following these maintenance tips, you can begin saving on electricity costs while prolonging the life of your cooling tower.
Water Treatment and Debris Removal
Like any mechanical system that relies on circulating water, the cooling tower has water flowing through basins and condensers that may have collected dirt, debris, and minerals. The filtration system can collect too many contaminants, causing the motor and other components to work harder in pushing the water through. Cleaning out the debris and scale from strainers and drains can prevent a buildup of contaminants.
Also, don’t skip out on water treatment management. Not only can you prevent scale and sludge from building up in pipes, you can also prevent any dangerous bacteria — such as Legionella that can cause Legionnaires’ disease — from growing in the basin system. Periodically draining the system, cleaning the basin, testing the water, and adding scale inhibitors as well as biocide can increase the water’s quality.
Motor and Fan Maintenance
Hear a strange sound coming from the cooling tower? This noise could be the first indication that the running components are beginning to wear out. If the fans struggle to rotate and the motor fails, the whole entire system could break down, leaving the building at uncomfortable temperatures or halting a facility’s operations.
You should inspect and oil the gear drive’s shaft alignment and the fan shaft bearings. Make sure to clean any accumulated dirt on the fan blades while looking for corrosion. You should also adjust the drive belt so it has the proper tension and replace any belts that are starting to wear thin. Lastly, inspect all electrical connections so that the current meets recommended levels. Ensure that the motor system has appropriate insulation to prevent water penetration into the electrical unit.
Keep Your Cooling Tower Working at Optimal Capacity
Inspecting the overall condition of the cooling tower by following an established maintenance schedule can prevent many issues that could cause the equipment to fail and raise your repair or replacement costs. Before engaging in any scheduled maintenance, always perform the vital safety lockout procedures so the system doesn’t turn on while your hands or clothing are near components. It is also a good idea to keep components, such as replacement belts and other critical items, in a warehouse storage location so that the items can be on hand immediately if you need to make quick repairs. This tactic can reduce system downtimes.