Cold weather presents challenges and opportunities to your cooling tower. Many process applications require a constant, maintained temperature to perform correctly, especially in cold weather. Careful oversight is needed when operating cooling towers in freezing temperatures to avoid complications or unforeseen shutdowns. However, we can show you some basic operating guidelines that will help you understand and embrace the importance of cooling tower inspections and preventative maintenance for cold weather.
1. Cooling Tower Inspections
Cooling tower inspections are a key component to ensure your cooling tower continues to perform at optimal levels year in and year out. They can also save tens of thousands of dollars in damage by foreseeing potential mechanical failure before it happens. You should often begin your tower inspection with the drive train, as it is the component most subject to wear and tear. Include the gearbox, motor, and coupling. You should always use an experienced professional for this as the drive train does not always exhibit clear or visible issues that signal a looming problem. It’s also wise to have your inspection done by a company that can also perform any required maintenance and repairs themselves.
To ensure a thorough inspection, do these things to prepare:
- Communicate with key departments in your plant about the inspection and get their input.
- Address the concerns and interests of each department.
- Communicate all the complaints and concerns about the cooling tower to safety, production, maintenance, and operations management.
- Locate the historical documents related to the cooling tower such as documents received from the manufacturer, drawings, acceptance test reports, prior inspection reports, and documentation regarding previous repairs.
Cooling tower inspections should include:
- OSHA compliance
- Inspect structural integrity of the tower
- Inspect all mechanical equipment for irregularities or potential failures
- Inspect the fan pitch and adjust the blades, as needed
- Ensure nozzles and flow valves are not clogged and flow properly
- Inspect the heat transfer fill for excessive scale buildup or biological fouling. Clean or replace fill as needed.
- Test thermal efficiency
2. Things to Do After Cold Weather Arrives
- Drain the water lines if you are shutting your cooling tower down for the season. This prevents them from freezing and damaging equipment or machinery.
- Remove any ice that forms in the lines immediately. You may also cease fan operation to remove ice, prevent other damage, and conserve energy.
- Operate the fans in reverse should the temperature go below zero degrees Fahrenheit. Do this for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours or as needed. It will force warm air through the tower and prevent freezing.
- Your air lines and inlets can attract a significant amount of debris that interferes with the air flow. They should be kept free of all debris such as leaves, trash, dirt, etc. This will also help improve efficiency and prevent freezing.
3. Other Tips for Operating Cooling Towers in Cold Weather
- Never operate cooling tower in cold weather without a heat load.
- Do not operate the tower in sub-freezing temperatures.
- You may bypass operating water flow into the cold-water basin if the heat load drops too low.
- Check controls for basin heater performance, temperature of water, proper vibration, and that all systems performing monitoring tasks accurately.
- Develop a water management plan to prevent corrosion, scaling, and the growth of microbial particles.
- Inspect and perform required maintenance on the tower at least twice per year; but it is best to ask a professional cooling tower company to recommend an inspection/preventative maintenance schedule.
More on The Importance of Cooling Tower Inspections and Preventative Maintenance for Cold Weather
One of the best ways to avoid cooling tower issues during winter is to use the right professionals every step of the way. Cooling Towers LLC is a leader in factory and field erected industrial cooling towers, inspections, repairs, preventative maintenance, and FRP conversions. Our experienced inspection teams provide comprehensive and thorough inspections of wood, fiberglass, steel and concrete cooling towers. A professional cooling tower inspection ensures that any structural or mechanical difficulties are identified and addressed before they become structural or mechanical disasters! Contact us if you would like to learn more about how we can help keep your cooling tower performing its best during the upcoming winter.