In our previous blogs in our series on cooling towers, we discussed all the best practices you need to know for cooling tower installation and provided an overview of cooling tower repair, replacement, upgrading, and refurbishment. Now that you know how to install your cooling tower, what situations call for repairs to your cooling tower, and when to replace or upgrade your cooling tower, it’s time to look at how to ensure a long life of excellent performance from your cooling tower.
Why is proper cooling tower maintenance important?
Your cooling tower performs an essential function for your building, keeping your occupants, employees, and processes cool and comfortable even on the hottest days by drawing the heat out of your building and expelling it into the outside air. With the important role your cooling tower plays, making sure it works properly when you need it to is paramount.
Preventative maintenance is about being proactive about your cooling tower’s health and efficiency rather than reactive. Cooling tower preventative maintenance helps you find potential problems before they become real problems—so you can fix them on your terms, not theirs.
Let’s look at an example. Imagine you’ve had your cooling tower for a while now, and one day in the middle of July the fan motor that runs your tower’s ventilation equipment breaks down. It’s the hottest time of the hottest day of the year, and until someone can come out to repair or replace your motor, your building’s occupants are going to be hot, sweaty, uncomfortable, and miserable.
Now let’s say that you’ve been practicing diligent cooling tower preventative maintenance, and during your last monthly or quarterly inspection you noticed that the motor for your cooling tower’s ventilation system was about to break down. So, after hours or over the weekend, you call someone to repair or replace the motor.
Because you caught the problem before it could become a problem—rather than waiting for the problem to catch you off-guard—you minimize disruption to your work and discomfort for your building’s occupants, save money on more expensive repair bills down the line, and keep your cooling tower in tip-top shape to keep it running at peak efficiency and extend its lifetime—saving money on electricity and getting the most return out of your initial investment!
Benefits of Cooling Tower Maintenance
- Reduce the risk of Legionnaires’ Disease on your property
- Prevent or reduce the build-up of scaling, fouling, and corrosion
- Keep your cooling tower running efficiently, reducing electricity costs
- Minimize downtime of your tower and your operations
- Prolong your cooling tower’s lifespan, giving you the most ROI out of your tower between your initial purchase and its replacement 15-20 years (or more!) later
How do you maintain a cooling tower?
Cooling towers are large and complex machines, which can make it hard to know even where to begin regarding maintenance. That is why creating and thoroughly documenting procedures for regular maintenance is important. Cooling tower preventative maintenance is best broken up into regular, manageable chunks and spread out across the span of a year.
Below you will find a comprehensive look at how you can break up cooling tower maintenance on a yearly basis. Maintenance goes by smoothly when you have a detailed plan going in. Consulting with cooling tower experts is the best way to develop and schedule a preventative maintenance plan that will fit your needs and your budget.
How often should a cooling tower be maintained?
For heating and cooling equipment, from boilers and HVAC systems to process chillers and beyond, preventative maintenance is best performed at regular intervals, and cooling tower maintenance is no exception.
You can break cooling tower preventative maintenance down into several levels according to the regularity and thoroughness of the inspection. Each level of maintenance focuses on a different aspect of your cooling tower’s operations, based on how frequently you need to address certain issues and inspect certain components of your cooling tower.
Cooling Tower Preventative Maintenance Checklist
Generally, the less frequent levels of maintenance involve the most thorough inspections and cleaning and should be performed by trained cooling tower experts. Annual maintenance inspections should be very in-depth and thorough, whereas weekly or daily maintenance inspections can be much more general and based on a more high-level visual inspection.
You want a daily or weekly cooling tower inspection to not take up too much time, after all, while still focusing on important components of your cooling tower, whereas less frequently performed operations require more time and specialized expertise.
1. Weekly and/or Daily Cooling Tower Maintenance
No less than once per week and ideally once per day, your technicians should perform a brief overall visual inspection to ensure that water is flowing properly.
On a weekly basis, your technicians should perform the following tasks:
- Check and adjust suction screens, belts, and pulleys
- Test water quality
- Check basin water level
- Check for temperature issues
- Check for excessive vibration and unusual noise in condenser water pumps, motors, and fans
Utilizing sensor technology can help to automate some aspects of daily and weekly cooling tower maintenance, such as monitoring the temperature and water level.
2. Monthly Cooling Tower Maintenance
On a monthly basis, your cooling tower should be more closely inspected to assess the general condition of your cooling system. Monthly inspection and cleaning prevent the buildup of sediment, scaling, biofilm, and potentially disease-causing Legionella bacteria.
- Address lubrication, wear, and alignment issues
- Inspect the clarity of sump water by examining the sump screen and anti-cavitation device
- Inspect basin flow control valves for signs of wear or corrosion
- Clean the surfaces of your tower basin, especially if there is visible sediment
- Descale and clean the cooling tower fill to inhibit bacterial growth
- Disinfect the cleaning tower to prevent bacterial growth
- Check the float ball and make-up valve to ensure they are properly closed or opened
- Clean the fan motor and ensure consistent line voltage and motor amperage readings
- Check oil levels and check for oil leaks in components, hoses, and fittings
- Inspect the air inlet, tower drift eliminators, fill pack, spray nozzles, blowdown system, bleed water valve, vibration switch, filtration and sweeper systems, pipework strainers, and chemical dosing system
3. Quarterly Cooling Tower Maintenance
Quarterly cooling tower maintenance focuses on components of your tower that require close inspection every three months. The things to look for at this level are important components of your cooling tower, even if they do only need to be closely inspected and adjusted on a seasonal basis.
- Lubricate motor bearings if your cooling tower needs external greasing
- Check for obstructed water flow through spray nozzles
- Clean and flush spray nozzles
- Check the bolts in all fan assemblies for tightness
- Check fan belt alignment and tightness
- Look for cracks, missing balancing weights, and any unusual vibrations in your fan blades
- Check the angle (pitch) and tip clearance of your fan blades
- Inspect the condition of ladders, handrails, and other access points on and around your cooling tower
4. Semiannual Cooling Tower Maintenance
Twice per year, your cooling tower preventative maintenance plan should involve flushing and cleaning your water sump. How you flush your sump and what you do with the water depends on your local regulations so you can ensure that you dispose of waste in the cleanest, safest way possible, so be sure to consult your local authorities.
Other important tasks for semiannual maintenance:
- Change the oil
- Inspect and tighten your fan blade hub
5. Annual Cooling Tower Maintenance
Annual preventative maintenance is the culmination of your cooling tower maintenance plan throughout the year. Since it encompasses all of the previous levels of maintenance, it is by far the most thorough and in-depth task to perform.
On a yearly basis, cooling tower maintenance includes:
- Checking mounting bolts for tightness and corrosion, replacing if necessary
- Thoroughly inspecting the motor, including oil plugs
- Lubricating motor components
- Ensuring the drive shaft is not loose
- Checking for wear and tear on the drive shaft
- Ensuring fan motor alignment
- Thoroughly cleaning all parts of the cooling tower
Preventative Maintenance Expertise at Chiller Systems Service
Cooling tower preventative maintenance is essential to ensure long life and maximum ROI from your building’s climate control system. While the lifespan of a cooling tower for a commercial building can be 15 to 20 years, a cooling tower can last even longer than that if you take care of it! Cooling towers are expensive to install, expensive to replace, and expensive to upgrade, so prolonging your cooling tower’s lifespan as long as possible just makes good business sense.
Cooling tower maintenance can be daunting even when you break it down into annual, semi-annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily inspections, but you don’t need to tackle it alone.
At Chiller Systems Service, we’re here to help you with every aspect of cooling tower preventative maintenance—from providing our expertise to develop a preventative maintenance plan for your cooling tower that fits your needs and your budget to having our experts perform the toughest and most in-depth maintenance tasks as part of a preventative maintenance agreement.
Reach out to us for help with cooling tower maintenance and find out what makes us the best source for cooling tower services in the metro Denver area.
What are the benefits of cooling tower maintenance?
Cooling tower maintenance helps reduce the risk of Legionnaires’ Disease on your property, prevents or reduces the build-up of scaling, fouling, and corrosion, keeps your cooling tower running efficiently, reducing electricity costs, minimizes downtime of your tower and your operations, and prolongs your cooling tower’s lifespan, giving you the most ROI out of your tower between your initial purchase and its replacement.
How do you maintain a cooling tower?
To maintain a cooling tower, create and thoroughly document procedures for regular maintenance and spread out across the span of a year. These procedures should include daily and weekly visual inspections to ensure water is flowing, monthly inspections to assess the general condition of the cooling system, quarterly inspections of components that require close inspection every three months, semiannual flushing and cleaning of the water sump, and annual thorough cleaning and inspection of all parts of the cooling tower.
How often should a cooling tower be maintained?
Cooling tower preventative maintenance should be performed at regular intervals, with daily or weekly inspections being more high-level and general, while less frequent maintenance operations require more time and specialized expertise.
Who can help with cooling tower maintenance?
At Chiller Systems Service, we provide expertise to develop a preventative maintenance plan for your cooling tower that fits your needs and your budget and have experts perform the toughest and most in-depth maintenance tasks as part of a preventative maintenance agreement.