Source: SPX Cooling Technologies
Spring is coming, and sooner than later you will have to start up your cooling tower again. If you have worked on a season lay-up or storage inhibitors, your job will be easier. But most of us get so involved in cleaning, repairing or replacing chillers that forget about the importance of maintaining the cooling tower in the cold season. If that is the case, your startup process will need more attention.
The startup goes beyond filling up the tower and starting the chiller. During the cooling tower shut-down, corrosion, scale, deposits and microbiological activity tend to occur. All this damage may shorten your equipment’s life cycle and cost you thousands of dollars. There is only one way to eliminate this, which is by cleaning your equipment.
I want you to think with me: you have really invested in your chiller. It is clean, you have replaced parts, and it is now in good shape and ready to go. Then why would you connect your equipment to a cooling tower that has been left aside for a few months? It does not make sense, because all the dirt and sediments will enter your chiller again as soon as you turn on your system.
There are 4 main actions you should take to prepare and maintain your cooling tower for spring:
1) Cleaning your tower
2) Checking your water treatment system
3) Servicing the mechanical assembly
4) Protecting from external dirt (airborne debris)
Now let’s take a quick look at each of them.
Cleaning the Cooling Tower
Several chemical options promise to dissolve the deposit build up in your tower. Yet, we still believe that the most effective way to clean your tower is by brushing the buildup off. We have not found a chemical product that will do the work efficiently without damaging the cooling tower steel.
That being said, the process our tech support team usually adopts is:
– Turning off fans and water treatment system
– Locking out, isolating, and draining the cooling tower (if not done before the shut-down)
– Cleaning the nozzles and the PVC fill media
– Cleaning the strainers
– Cleaning hot water basin covers and the cold water collection basin
By following these steps, you will ensure that sediments will not go from your cooling tower to your chiller. And your entire hydronic system will be protected.
Checking Your Water Treatment System
Scale, deposits, microbiological growth and corrosion must be under control prior the startup. Turning on your system with impurities in your feed water, circulation water, and blowdown will affect the water flow, the pressure and the temperature, affecting your tower’s performance.
If you are going after “green solutions” at your facility, know that there are some great sustainable and chemical-free treatments available. Copper-silver ionization and electrodynamic field generation are two great options.
Servicing the Mechanical Assembly
The mechanical assembly of a cooling tower has 4 crucial components: the motor, the coupling or drive shaft, the gear reducer, and the fan.
Let me ask you something: when was the last time you changed the oil of your cooling tower? What is the drive shaft or coupling condition? Have you been following the preventing guidelines?
Protecting from Airborne Debris
If you followed the steps above, the last thing you want is to throw everything away by allowing your tower to get dirty soon.
As your tower operates, air will enter your equipment. Airborne debris such as dust, pollen, cottonwood, leaves, and insects will be carried into your tower. The debris inside your tower will eventually affect its efficiency. So, it is crucial to creating a barrier which prevents that from happening.
The best way of doing so is by installing air inlet screens, such as cottonwood screens. They are inexpensive, easy to assemble, custom-made, and capture debris BEFORE they enter your tower. Other benefits of cottonwood screens are:
– Low maintenance time
– Breakdown prevention
– Green solution
Combined, these benefits will enable you to save on energy, labor, and repairs. You can then save your budget for other improvements and get closer to your bonus at the end of the year.
We created a Spring Cooling Tower Startup checklist with all the items you should check on your equipment before starting your cooling tower. This free step-by-step guide is the perfect formula to guarantee a safe cooling tower startup and performance of your system during the season and over the summer. Enjoy it!