Keep an Eye on These 5 Cooling Tower Components
Factory Authorized Service Inc.
A cooling tower is nothing more than a big heat exchanger that cools down water temperature through evaporation. Even though it seems to be a simple process, many cooling tower components are involved, working together to achieve the desired temperature. The performance of each component affects the overall performance of the unit.
Here is a list of 5 main cooling tower components and the reasons why you should always keep them working efficiently.
1- Cooling Tower Fill
No one questions the importance of the fill in a cooling tower. After all, the fill is the heat transfer medium around which the entire tower is built. The fill is a powerful yet fragile component of a tower that over time can become brittle and lose its film surface. In cases like that, the fill needs to be replaced.
The normal operation of a tower creates natural scale deposits that result from the evaporation process. The deposits will decrease the system capacity because they affect airflow. To prevent this from happening, it’s important to clean your cooling tower fill twice a year. Neglecting maintenance procedures will result in sending the water to the chiller at a higher temperature than expected, forcing the chiller to work harder to cool down your water to the desired temperature and consuming more energy as a consequence.
On top of that, there’s a heightened risk of a Legionella bacteria outbreak.
Your cooling tower is like a vacuum that sucks up the outside air with all the dust, pollen, insects, and solids from the earth. Legionella is a bacterium in the groundwater that causes little harm for the most part.
However, all the debris brought into a cooling tower serves as food to the bacteria that, in higher levels, can cause major harm. When you don’t clean your cooling tower, the Legionella has room to grow, and once it spreads, it can cause uncalculated loss. A Legionella outbreak can be deadly for young or old people. The subject matter is so serious that the CMS has released a mandate to reduce the risk of an outbreak in healthcare facilities, but that everyone should read.
2- Cold Water Basin
The cold-water basin is also called the “collection basin” because it contains the cooled water after its interaction with the airflow. The main challenge of the cold-water basin is to keep the water clean, and free of biological growth.
Sometimes airborne debris passes the louvers and reaches the basin. If sunlight gets in, it can increase the temperature of the water and create a perfect environment for bacteria to grow.
Act quickly and flush away any debris that accumulates in your cold water basin. You can do it through the drain or through the installation of a simple sweeper piping system that constantly removes solids from the basin and sends them to filtration equipment.
A good water treatment program will lower the risk of having increased levels of bacteria.
The gearbox is responsible for slowing down the rotational speed from the motor to the fan. It’s essential to keep the gearbox clean and lubricated, to make sure it’s not overheating, and to often check it for vibration and noise. These can indicate that your oil level is low and that the gears are grinding together and parts inside the gearbox are getting damaged.
Compare your gearbox to the transmission of your car.
If the gearbox breaks, your cooling tower automatically shuts down. This is what we call a catastrophic failure. Sometimes when this happens the fan blades go flying, and if you don’t have a fan guard, it can be pretty dangerous
4- Water Distribution System
The water distribution system's mission is to uniformly distribute water over the fill or coil, either through gravity or through a spray system that uses nozzles. These nozzles need to be kept clean and unclogged.
If the water distribution fails to be even, the dryer parts of the fill will offer less resistance to airflow. Air will always take the path of less resistance, so when there are gaps in the spray coverage, the airflow is going to be taken out from the wet fill sections where the water needs to be cooled down and pass through the dryer parts of the fill, making the cooling system inefficient.
5- Drift Eliminators
Drift eliminators are designed to capture large droplets of water that get trapped in a tower’s airstream. They prevent the water from escaping the tower, reducing the amount of lost water, by changing the direction and velocity of the droplets once they hit their walls and cause them to fall back into the cooling tower.
Here is something to keep in mind: these droplets have high levels of salts that can corrode the metal of fans, gears, motors, and other components of a tower.
Drift eliminators need to be in great shape to prevent water loss, provide water savings, and reduce parts maintenance. High-efficiency drift eliminators can maintain drift losses below 0.001% of the water flow level recirculating.
Factory Authorized Service is the only company you’ll need to plan a proper maintenance plan for your cooling tower—and the rest of your industrial HVAC system. We have experience in servicing all the major brands, including Evapco, Baltimore Aircoil, Marley, Recold, and more! Contact us today to start the process of ensuring your cooling tower is reliable, safe, and performing at optimum energy efficiency.