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Join Date: Jul 2016
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Cooling Tower Neglect

07/20/2016 2:22 PM

Just inherited the supervisor position for maint, found the cooling tower was neglected for years. Cleaned with a pressure washer. The water is gravity drain thru a honeycomb plastic material with the fan on top. The water is very cloudy now. We run a pool sand filter out of the holding tank,along with a cloth bag filter,plus we vent out when we backwash the sand filter and when we shut down for one day a week. Can I put a pool clarifier in to help clean the water?

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#1

Re: cooling tower neglect

07/20/2016 2:49 PM

Make out a list to get control over this matter.

  • Get the name and model number of your cooling cells. (Is it a Marley known as SPX)
  • Check you blow down valves, are they working
  • Call some water treatment people in your area that specialize in this. Have them take water samples, and they can recommend mitigation to clean up you water. They can put you on a water treatment program. This should already be in place.
  • Look at you cooling call and take an assessment, what condition is your packing. What material is the hot well and cold well, is it stainless, galvanized?
  • You may even need to call you cooling cell distributor and have them take an assessment. They can look at the blades, pitch and drives.

This is a start. Most of these you actually can do yourself, but it may be difficult, it doesn't seem like you have much for support at your company.

good luck

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#3
In reply to #1

Re: cooling tower neglect

07/21/2016 12:32 AM

Also, don't be surprised if they initially come out with a bit of a negative view of you or your assessment, being with the last guy in their mind, it's likely they never spent a dime on this sort of maintenance work.

Many see zero maintenance as zero operating cost and budget for preventative maintenance accordingly as in the is no budget for fixing anything that is not actually totally unusable to the point where a new machine or system has to be installed.

Been there done that dance more than once.

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#2

Re: cooling tower neglect

07/20/2016 4:02 PM

At this point, what do you have to lose?

There is almost no process similarity between the two.

Follow 911's advice.

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#4
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Re: cooling tower neglect

07/21/2016 3:25 AM

"At this point, what do you have to lose?"

His life if legionella is in the tower

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: cooling tower neglect

07/21/2016 7:12 AM

Actually.... on all cooling towers there is a warning sticker on the access door that there is a possibility of legionella could be present on all three cooling cells before you enter in the cold well.

a little off topic....

We did an expansion on one of our facilities, which in in the northwoods of Wisconsin.

I wasn't diagnosed (blood work) with Lyme disease but out of the 11-12 symptoms, I had 10-11 of them respectively, (can't recall the exact number of symptoms) . The symptom that I didn't have was the bulls eye target mark, where I was bit?

They suspected but did not treat me right off, just due to the time I told them when the symptoms started which was about 10-12 weeks prior. Then the doctor must have thought about it and had the nurse call me on a Friday night and said the doctor changed his mind and prescribed antibodies... I started feeling better almost immediately. That summer sucked, I get home at night went to bed until I woke the next morning. And on week ends, when I came home I went straight to bed, and didn't leave until Monday Morning.

Looking back, it may not have been Lyme disease, but some thing else that was lurching in the cooling cells I was working on.

I was always going to do a little research on that... but didn't.

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#9
In reply to #4

Re: cooling tower neglect

07/21/2016 3:57 PM

The fact that the position was inherited implies that OP already has some experience.

Perhaps a mistake on my part.

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#6

Re: Cooling Tower Neglect

07/21/2016 8:10 AM

Follow 911's advice, and...

You don't give a location (I'm guessing the US from spellings) and I'm guessing (again!!) that the UK and US have similar legal requirements on the checking of cooling tower water, as Tony said, because of the risk of the bacteria that cause legionnaire's disease (legionella). Be prepared for a visit from local health inspectors or similar and a world of pain whilst blame is shifted as to why checks weren't carried out in the past. I believe there are monthly checks and an annual servicing required as a minimum.

I think that in the UK service companies have a duty to report if they find towers where checks haven't been carried out.

Your best approach is to have already checked the regs and have a plan in place, contract negotiations underway/planned for inspections, outline cost estimates to show that you, at least, are taking this seriously and intend to do it properly.

In the meantime, get yourself to the doctor's and get a precautionary blood test done. See if it can be done through the company's occupational health obligations - do you have these in the US where companies must provide appropriate health checks, e.g. hearing tests for those in noisy environments? They put you at risk...

Good luck and let us know what happens.

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#7

Re: Cooling Tower Neglect

07/21/2016 12:09 PM

In short, no you can't treat this like a swimming pool water clarity issue.

Cooling tower care and maintenance involves very serious issues of possible water contamination/sanitation and possibly very costly repairs. Also, there is liability involved; this type of maintenance is where you WANT a professional third party in to assist and monitor. Similar to overhead crane maintenance......want to do it yourself and bear the liability and legal ramifications?

Be the HERO here who recognizes the risks and how to get the problems resolved safely and legally.

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#8

Re: Cooling Tower Neglect

07/21/2016 1:17 PM

Wow. Thank you all for your info. Have already ordered a cooling tower test kit and working on a plan of action and finding contact info. Water is starting to clear up.

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#10
In reply to #8

Re: Cooling Tower Neglect

08/18/2016 3:19 AM

Good start. But you've not mentioned the blowdown regime, whether it is working to plan, nor the water treatment regime that your specialist chemicals supplier has invoked. You've a long way to go yet.

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