4 Simple Steps to Extend Your Cooling Tower Asset Life
Updated: Aug 13, 2021
The life expectancy of an industrial Cooling Tower is typically 15-25 years. However, taking these 4 simple steps can extend the life of your Cooling Tower or Cooling System asset by a further 10-15 years:
1) Ensuring Disciplined Maintenance
Unexpected Cooling Tower breakdowns can be avoided through a systematic maintenance routine. Weekly visual inspections will often catch a problem when it is still small and easy to correct. Particular attention should be given to the Cooling Tower fan and gear box/gear drive.
The weakest link in Cooling Tower gear drives is the high-speed shaft seal. These seals usually last three years before they become worn and start leaking. Change the oil seal every few years or specify mechanical face seals that have hardened wear surfaces.
Good maintenance practices will prevent catastrophic and costly Cooling Tower fan blade failures. All blade-attaching hardware should be tightened to manufacturer's specifications. Tightness of blade-attachment hardware should also be verified regularly during annual maintenance checks.
2) Implementing an Effective Chemical Program
Chemicals used to clean & maintain Cooling Towers include Corrosion Inhibitors, Scale Inhibitors, and Algaecides & Biocides. These chemicals are primarily meant to increase the longevity of the cooling tower and prevent issues like fouling, corrosion, and Legionella over time:
For example, one of the primary issues that Cooling Towers face is corrosion, which, over time will weaken the mechanical parts of a water tower, causing malfunctions and contamination of the water used in the tower. Corrosion inhibitors directly tackle common corrosive compounds such as chlorides and sulfates and prevent a Cooling Tower’s structure and components from deteriorating with time.
3) Improving Cooling Tower Water Cleaning/Treatment
Proper treatment and monitoring of recirculating water inside a Cooling System is critical to maintain the system’s performance and reliability. If your Cooling Tower is currently functioning as it should, you may feel that there is no need for Cooling Tower Water Treatment. However, each Cooling System is unique, thus the water treatment required to tackle common problems (from alkalinity and pH imbalances to biofilms and pollutants) will vary from one system to another. It is critical that you work with a skilled water treatment expert who can examine your Cooling Tower Water Treatment strategy, and advise you on the next steps to take regarding the quality of your Cooling Tower water. The upfront investment of time and money will be repaid in the long-term thanks to increased longevity, efficiency, and effectiveness in your Cooling Tower.
4) Retrofitting or Refurbishment of the System
Old Cooling Towers can be refurbished or upgraded at a fraction of the cost of purchasing a brand new system. Refurbishment or upgrades can bring a cooling tower’s components up to original factory specifications. Some common steps that can be taken in a refurbishment process include:
Cleaning the inside of the cooling tower and all metal parts, using sandblasting to remove corrosion.
Application of an epoxy coating to the metal, with a flexible epoxy stripping applied to the joints to allow flexibility and prevent leaking.
Replacement of the fill media inside the Cooling Tower.
Replacement of the transfer media (otherwise known as fill). The longevity of fill, or heat transfer media, is predominantly a function of water and air quality, as well as proper operation.
A Cooling Tower has a tough job. Furthermore, many activities depend on the cooling tower being able to operate continuously for years, with minimum maintenance and repair. Stay proactive with these 4 steps so that your Cooling Tower continues to generate value for your business until the very end of the system's life.