Cooling Tower Maintenance and Repairs Tips

Learn about Common Cooling Tower Problems and Solutions for High-Rise Buildings in South Florida

Commonly seen on commercial buildings, condominiums, and high-rise buildings throughout South Florida, cooling towers are essential for removing heat, cooling vital equipment and working with chillers to cool buildings. When the temperatures rise in the Sunshine State, ensuring the proper maintenance of your cooling tower becomes more important than ever to regulating the climate in your commercial building.

These towers work to exchange heat by returning cold water to chillers while pushing out heat with their complex design, which gives property managers and condo residents control over the temperature. Cooling towers remove small solids from water and reduce the turnover rate, and as a result, provides your building with cleaner water and less contamination. By optimizing on chemical use and high energy transfer, cooling towers provide sufficient water temperature and recirculation, resulting in efficient and easy climate control.

What Are Common Cooling Tower Problems?

Cooling towers are made from galvanized steel and over time can become damaged from being exposed to air, water, chemicals, and heat. Proper maintenance is critical to ensuring your cooling tower operates at maximum efficiency and provides a comfortable environment for your tenants. Sometimes a small malfunction can severely impair or shut down an entire system. Advanced Air Systems can perform necessary maintenance and identify potential issues before it’s too late.

An increase in your energy costs may be the most noticeable sign that your cooling tower was improperly designed or isn’t functioning properly and is in need of repair. Other things to look for to determine if your tower needs servicing include:

  • Bad Water Flow: Dry air disease happens when water flowing through the cooling tower is below the minimum amount needed for it to function, resulting in dry patches in your water tower that may develop into scales.
    • Solution: The best remedy to dry air disease is to adjust the settings of the incoming water so that more water is allowed into the tower. This will ensure that the fill is wet enough to facilitate heat loss from the water entering the cooling tower.
  • Pump Cavitation: Fortowers without a sump basin, water inside the tower goes below the recommended level since some water will overflow once the tower is turned off. The pump will not be primed when the tower is restarted the next day, causing cavitation in the pump, a process where rapid changes of pressure in a liquid lead to the formation of small vapor-filled cavities where the pressure is relatively low.
    • Solution: A water trap can be installed on your cooling tower to avoid pump cavitation.
  • Tower Flooding: An easy to spot but a detrimental sign that your tower is in need of repair is flooding. A properly designed cooling tower has a sump basin that takes the water from the piping and other equipment that supplies water to the tower. Excess water will collect and overflow from the tower, including the costly loss of treated water.
    • Solution: An adjustment of the sump basin can prevent flooding.
  • Corrosion: Corrosion is caused by the combination and reaction of air, sodium, and other chemical components found in the water supply. This chemical reaction causes destruction or loss of the metal within the cooling tower.
    • Solution: Proper maintenance and repair will help prevent or limit corrosion, along with regular inspection of the framework and using corrosion-resistant materials like polymeric coating solutions wherever possible.
  • Scaling: Scaling is the thin coating of insoluble minerals or chemicals that break down during the heat exchange process, creating layers on the cooling tower’s surfaces where the heat exchange occurs. Scaling insulates these surfaces and prevents effective heat transfer, causing higher energy consumption.
    • Solution: Routine cleaning removes scaling and prevents build-up, as does monitoring and treating calcium levels in the water. Using conductive tube coatings allow the heat exchange to continue without providing a surface where the mineral build-up can stick.
  • Fouling: This occurs when dust, dirt, and other debris collect in the cooling towers, causing reduced efficiency.
    • Solution: Regular monitoring along with water treatment, side-stream filtration, and periodic blowdown will help prevent fouling.
  • Biological Contamination: Warm water and nutrients from the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which can form biological films, or biofilm, causing significant harm to the system with corrosion, scale, and decreased energy efficiency. This bacteria can also impact human health.
    • Solution:  Bacteria should be removed as soon as it is found. A chemical and microbiological analysis might be required to eliminate the problem.

Regular cooling tower maintenance can significantly extend the life of your HVAC system and prevent it from having to be replaced. Advanced Air Systems provides commercial cooling tower services, repairs, and maintenance throughout Broward, Miami, and Palm Beach, including Galt Ocean Mike, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm Beach, Galt Ocean Mile, Sunny Isles Beach, Dania Beach, Deerfield Beach, Hollywood and all of South Florida.

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