Air inlets and airborne debris, a dangerous combination
The air inlet entrance of your cooling tower is a big and inviting door not only for cottonwood but also for dust, pollen, leaves, insects and all types of airborne debris.
Having debris in your tower can cause you several issues: first, they reduce air passage, and once inside your equipment, they can clog the fill. If brought into the chiller, debris can clog and severely damage the condenser coils; in a pump, they will affect the strainers.
A cooling tower cools water down through evaporation. If air cannot enter the tower, the cooling process is seriously impacted, to a point in which your system may even stop working. In a more common scenario, the water will be sent to the chiller at a much higher temperature than it should, and the chiller will have to work harder to compensate for the difference. Eventually, both cooling tower and chiller will be working at their maximum capacity, but inefficiently. They will not be able to cool down the water, which will affect the building occupants’ comfort and your monthly bill due to the waste of energy to maintain the design performance level.
The solution most people still adopt is cleaning the air inlet entrances manually. It is definitively effective, but expensive, and it takes a long time. In addition, as soon as the process is over, the debris are sucked right into the equipment again, and finding their way into your system is even easier since all the entrances will no longer be blocked.
So the question is: how do you prevent airborne debris from entering your system in first place?
Air inlet screens, a simple and efficient solution to protect your equipment
The market has developed a very simple, effective, and inexpensive solution: air cottonwood screens. Yet, a significant number of people in the HVAC industry have heard about them, which is surprising.
Air cottonwood screens are washable, flexible, custom-fit, strong and durable filter screens that cover your air inlet entrances and stop debris BEFORE they enter your system. It is definitely one of those solutions that makes you think “it is too good to be true” because by simply installing air cottonwood screens you can reduce maintenance time and effort by 70%. Fill cleaning procedures on a cooling tower can cost up to $7,500 per fan cell (up to $6,000 per coil if we think of chillers), and the screens would save you thousands of dollars every year.
These screens are heat stabilized, and they don’t shed fibers, don’t absorb moisture, and don’t promote bacterial growth, which will protect you from Legionella, one of the main concerns in our industry nowadays. Cottonwood screens can be easily installed with magnets, and a brum is basically the only tool you need to brush the debris off.
If you have been working on your equipment and preparing it for the cooling season, now is the time for you to include cottonwood screens on your list. Spring is most threatening season when it comes to airborne debris, and you want to make sure that your equipment can handle it and also run smoothly during summer.
Having to shut down your equipment for cleaning purposes DURING the season is not an option, and you certainly don’t want to deal with a breakdown.