In our previous blog, we discussed Five Best Practices for Cooling Tower Installation, but once you’ve installed a cooling tower on your property, you can’t just set it and forget it. Like any other piece of industrial hardware that your business depends on for its daily operations, your cooling tower will need maintenance and other forms of service, such as cooling tower repairs or upgrades, to ensure that it delivers many years of peak performance and consistently provides the climate control your property requires.
Cooling Tower Service and Maintenance
Unfortunately, repairs are a part of life. Anything that works can stop working. Fortunately, a good and attentive preventative maintenance plan can bring your chances of something important breaking down as close to zero as possible, saving you from potential catastrophic failure when you least expect it.
Regular maintenance and service of your cooling tower should consist of a thorough inspection by trained professionals once per year and less intensive inspections on a monthly or quarterly basis. Cooling tower maintenance inspections help you identify components that are close to failing so you can replace them before they fail.
If you don’t pay close enough attention to cooling tower service and maintenance, it’s almost guaranteed that failure of some essential component will strike when you least expect it. It could be in the middle of July on a Wednesday afternoon, leaving your building’s occupants struggling through sweltering heat and humidity. For schools or office buildings, this can significantly impair your occupants’ ability to work and learn; in a hospital setting, this could put patients’ well-being or even lives at risk!
With a proper maintenance plan in place for your cooling tower, you can identify components that need to be repaired or replaced before they fail. This is the cornerstone of preventative maintenance. When your cooling tower needs preventative repairs, you can easily schedule them for off hours on your property or a time during the day that will be minimally disruptive to your building’s occupants.
What are the five common cooling tower problems?
Cooling tower repair, maintenance, and service deal with cleaning out and fixing the problems that accumulate as your cooling tower performs its climate control functions. If left unchecked, these five cooling tower problems, in particular, can have serious consequences:
- Bacterial Contamination
- Biofilm and Fouling
Cooling Tower Bacterial Contamination
Since cooling towers are very hot and humid, they are an ideal growing environment for bacteria. If left unchecked, bacteria can grow in your cooling tower and spread through your building’s cooling system, potentially causing health problems.
For example, Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially life-threatening type of atypical pneumonia, is caused by a strain of bacteria called Legionella, which was first discovered in the cooling tower of a hotel hosting an American Legion convention in Philadelphia!
Cooling Tower Biofilm and Fouling
In addition to potentially nasty bacterial surprises like Legionella, other biological contaminants such as mold, fungi, algae, mud, dirt, and grime can form a slime on the heat transfer surfaces of your cooling tower or clog the tower packing.
Biofilm development or dirt clogs can obstruct the free flow of water and air through your cooling tower, reducing its efficiencies. Significant fouling can make your cooling tower use up more electricity to accomplish less work, driving up your power bills in addition to making your climate control system less efficient.
If enough biofilm or dirt builds up in your cooling tower, it can even cause structural parts of your tower to break from the weight!
Cooling Tower Corrosion
Corrosion is an inevitable part of dealing with any water-based cooling system, and cooling towers are no different. Wherever water comes into contact with metal, air, sodium, and other chemicals in the water, the metal will start to corrode.
If left unchecked, corrosion can severely weaken your cooling tower’s structural integrity and impact its performance and efficiency. Corrosion on the internal components of your cooling tower can also lead to scaling, as seen below. Cooling towers that use closed-loop systems are especially vulnerable to corrosion.
Cooling Tower Scaling
Scaling is closely related to corrosion. Water is full of minerals like calcium salts, which dissolve in water. However, as water evaporates in your cooling tower, the concentration of dissolved calcium salts and other solid minerals in the water grows higher and higher.
Left unchecked, these minerals can build up on the internal surfaces of your cooling tower and make the heat exchange process less efficient, making it more difficult for your cooling tower to cool your building and increasing your operating costs.
Cooling Tower Foaming
Foaming is less common than the other four common cooling tower problems but can be troublesome when it does occur. Foaming can happen when cascading water causes foam to overflow the cooling tower sump tank. When foaming occurs, it can concentrate deposit-forming materials that cause corrosion or scaling, dirt or biological contaminants that cause fouling, or potentially disease-causing bacteria.
These five common problems associated with cooling towers underscore just how important cooling tower repair, service, and maintenance are, not only for maintaining your building occupants’ comfort but their health and safety as well.
Chiller offers customized cooling tower repair services to ensure that your climate control system continues to work properly. As long as you diligently perform cooling tower service and maintenance, you can ensure your cooling tower’s problems don’t get out of hand!
SEE ALSO: Top 5 Keys to Choosing an HVAC System
When to Consider Cooling Tower Upgrades or Replacement
Well maintained, your building’s cooling tower can deliver 15-20 years of excellent performance or more before it reaches its twilight years and the prospect of cooling tower upgrades becomes pertinent. A cooling tower upgrade is a good idea if your cooling tower is getting on in years, or if your property has expanded to the point that your current cooling solution is no longer sufficient to keep your process temperatures regulated or ensure your building’s occupants’ comfort.
When you installed your cooling tower, as seen in the previous blog, you and the installation experts who set up your tower put a lot of care and thought into making sure your cooling tower was in just the right place and had the right capacity to provide climate control to a property of your size.
Have you recently added an extension to your property? Has the terrain around your property or the shape of neighboring buildings changed? You may need to upgrade to a larger cooling tower or a more efficient cooling tower to better meet the needs of your property’s climate control system.
A cooling tower upgrade delivers you a brand-new, high-quality cooling tower designed to meet your property’s current climate control needs and ready to give you another good 20 years of faithful service. You’ll also likely have new warranty coverage on your new cooling tower. If that sounds worth the price tag, upgrading might be right for you.
How much does it cost to replace a cooling tower?
Replacing your building’s cooling tower can be costly. A replacement cooling tower will generally cost between $50,000 and $200,000, with an average of about $125,000. The cost of replacing your cooling tower depends on how big of a cooling system your property requires.
Refurbishing an old cooling tower when it shows signs of reaching its end of life, after about 20 years of use, may be preferable to upgrading, as refurbishing an old cooling tower can cost 60% less than installing a new one—but it depends on your situation.
Refurbishing vs Replacing Your Cooling Tower
While a new cooling tower is an expensive investment for your building, especially when you take into consideration the cost of removing the old one, it’s important to know when it’s time to upgrade. As technology advances, newer cooling towers can offer significant improvements to your climate control situation over your current tower.
Replacing your cooling tower has its disadvantages, though. As shown above, it’s expensive—at least as expensive as your initial investment in cooling tower installation. The replacement process can be noisy and disruptive to your building’s operations. There’s also removing and disposing of the tower that you need to consider.
On its face, refurbishing might sound a lot better than replacing your cooling tower—it looks cheaper, anyway. But this depends on your cooling tower’s ability to be refurbished. Your cooling tower might have damage that can’t be repaired, even with as much of an overhaul as you can possibly do without replacing the entire tower. You might not be able to upgrade your refurbished cooling tower’s thermal performance to keep up with your property’s and occupants’ needs; your cooling tower’s performance might actually be reduced.
When it comes to replacing, refurbishing, or upgrading your cooling tower, consult with the experts to figure out the best option going forward. The important thing is that when it comes time to replace your cooling tower, you want to do it on your own terms, after you’ve gotten a great ROI on your old cooling tower, and when you can feel confident that it’s the best course of action.
Chiller Systems Service: Your Best Option for Cooling Tower Companies in Denver
At Chiller, we’re dedicated to helping you with cooling tower repair, service, maintenance, upgrades, replacement, and anything else you might need help with. We don’t sell equipment or brands—we recommend a solution that fits your budget and suits your needs, and our highly skilled technicians can service any brand. We’re always here to listen to your problems, give you our best advice, and provide the best services when you need them—and not a moment too late.
Reach out to us for help with cooling tower repair and find out what makes us the best solution for cooling tower service in the Denver, Colorado metro area.
What are the five common cooling tower problems?
The five common cooling tower problems are bacterial contamination, biofilm and fouling, corrosion, scaling and foaming.
How much does it cost to replace a cooling tower?
Replacing a cooling tower generally costs between $50,000 and $200,000, with an average of about $125,000. The cost depends on the size of the cooling system required.
Is refurbishing a cooling tower preferable to upgrading?
Refurbishing an old cooling tower can cost up to 60% less than installing a new one, but this depends on the condition of the tower and whether it is able to be refurbished.
What services do cooling tower companies provide?
Cooling tower companies provide services such as repairs, maintenance, installation, upgrades, and replacement. They may also provide additional services such as diagnostics and consulting.