The Splash

Spring Cooling Tower Startup: Is Your System Ready for Peak Cooling Season?

Time spent getting a cooling tower cleaned and prepared in the spring will result in more reliable and efficient operation throughout the summer cooling season. Towers that have been off-line during the winter months can collect dirt, debris, bacteria and other contaminants from the environment, if not laid up correctly. This buildup can produce corrosion, equipment failure, biological fouling and microbiological growth. It is important these systems be tested prior to startup and disinfected to protect the asset life of the equipment and ensure optimal performance.

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), microbiological growth, including the Legionella bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, is a very real risk in cooling systems, therefore it is recommended cooling towers be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected twice a year. This is typically conducted prior to initial startup in the spring and shutdown in the fall. It is also important to clean and disinfect systems that have been out of service for a long period of time regardless of the season or if it is a newly installed system with possible post construction residue -- both at risk for Legionella growth. See OSHA’s Healthcare Hazards for more information.

Our extensive network of Kurita America representatives provide around-the-clock service, working with you and your facility at every step of the cooling process. Well maintained cooling systems not only increase performance but also contribute to the safety of your facility. Kurita America can bring your facility up to regulatory and environmental standards to support the safe operation of your water treatment programs. Our cooling water solutions deliver extraordinary results improving water safety through minimizing pathogenic bacteria risk. We protect your assets by inhibiting corrosion and scale and optimizing operational performance during the busy summer months, learn more here on our cooling applications. With Kurita America’s in-depth expertise and innovative technologies in this field, we make sure your cooling towers are in top condition and running efficiently, providing you with peace of mind while saving you time and money.

You can easily incorporate seasonal maintenance into your spring routine. Here are some important practices you should be aware of before cooling tower startup:

Preliminary inspections and cleaning & disinfecting the cooling tower basin is critical in reducing and removing biological activity. Shovels, brooms and hoses can be used to remove any debris or dirt as well as clean strainers/filters.

Scrubbing and disinfecting fan housing and lubricating fans/motors will assist in preventing biological growth. Due to condensation, cooling tower fan housings are often difficult areas for chemicals to clean and prevent bacteria growth, which can lead to corrosion and the spread of airborne pathogens. Removing any excess oils and grease will also eliminate potential bacteria nutrient sources.

Calibrate, inspect and replace (if necessary) controller sensors, especially pH and ORP sensors, to ensure an accurate and efficient treatment program. It is recommended that the system's sacrificial anodes on chiller heads be replaced in the spring along with inspecting and cleaning clogged distributors. If not working or cleaned properly, this equipment can reduce the cooling tower's ability to cool water and increases overall energy use, impacting your bottom line.

Opening and cleaning distribution pans is recommended to ensure reliable water flow for optimal system performance as typical system filtration may not always remove debris.

For system fill and initial treatment, there are a variety of options available to re-passivate both steel and copper surfaces to inhibit corrosion, reduce potential deposit formation and minimize bacterial growth. This is necessary as the previous season’s protective coating could be damaged or eliminated from the metal cooling surfaces with exposure to air and humidity during the off season.

Once the startup phase of the tower is complete, return to the normal treatment program as recommended by your Kurita America representative. To get your cooling tower ready in the spring, or to learn how our integrated solutions can help you maintain a clean system year-round, contact Kurita America to learn more.