Cooling Tower Maintenance Plan: What, When, HowYour chillers and cooling towers are the most important components of a safe, reliable and efficient HVAC system. Failure to inspect, maintain and repair and/or replace every part of the system can have serious consequences for your business. A cooling tower maintenance plan is not only a smart business investment for your facility and employees, but it’s a requirement. After the 2015 Legionnaire’s outbreak in NYC, stricter legislation regarding the regular inspection and maintenance of cooling towers were implemented by the NYC Council, and the NYC Health Commissioner issued a directive that ALL cooling towers in the city must be inspected by an environmental consultant and then disinfected. Effective March 1, 2016, the state of New York mandated that all building owners that had a cooling tower must develop and implement a regular cooling tower and maintenance plan. (More info here)
An effective cooling tower maintenance plan should address three key issues:
1. Reliability and EfficiencyPerforming daily and weekly visual checks of your system’s fans, motors, belts and pumps is an effective way to ensure that your systems are running at their highest efficiencies. Loose belts or improperly-working fans will prevent smooth flow through the system and result in reduced efficiencies and higher operational costs. Regular inspection of basins, drains and nozzles will also prevent mineral and scale buildups, debris and dirt that will clog the system and prevent maximum water cooling. In addition, scale, debris and dirt build-ups will cause increased energy consumption and reduced air cooling and overall reduced efficiency of the system.
2. Energy and Cost SavingsDaily, weekly and monthly system monitoring will keep energy usage and costs down while ensuring that your system is working at its optimal level. If water temperatures are allowed to increase even by as little as 2 – 3 percent, the return water from the towers to the chillers will cause the chiller to work harder, resulting in increased costs to you and a reduced cooling effectiveness for your customers and your employees. Newer chillers can accommodate lower water temperatures. So, be sure to check your equipment specifications and adjust water temperature controls to ensure maximum functioning of your systems.
3. SafetyThis is the most important reason to implement daily, weekly and monthly inspection and maintenance routines for your HVAC system. A well-developed maintenance plan must include the following:
- Monthly water testing for bacteria levels
- Monthly water treatment, with corrosion inhibitors and biocides
- Depending on location and usage levels, quarterly or yearly testing for Legionella and other bacteria
- Complete and regular inspection and cleaning of cooling tower components, including drains, basins and nozzles for corrosion, mineral scale buildup, debris, and dirt accumulation
- Deep cleaning and sanitizing of all interior surfaces at least once a year, which includes circulation of chemical cleaners for 6-24 hours, followed by complete flushing and draining of systems
- Regular inspection and cleaning of fill material
- Pressure washing and vacuuming of systems, with special attention to spray trees, basins and nozzles