Cooling Tower Maintenance and Inspection Checklist 

Proper cooling tower maintenance is probably the only way to ensure its effectiveness and safety in the long run. You see, cooling towers are not just in charge of maintaining an optimal working temperature of your equipment being cooled. They are also there to keep everyone safe. Failing to do so can have more effects than just a malfunction of your systems. In some cases, it might even increase the risk of Legionella.

In order to avoid all of this, there are a couple of things you need to learn about the preventative inspection of these towers. Here are some essential tips and tricks regarding the maintenance of cooling towers.

Watch Out for Common Problems

One of the things that can simplify this process the most is your understanding of the cooling tower processes and common maintenance problems. The most common three problems are:

  • Corrosion of internal structures
  • Water Quality Issues
  • Mechanical damage of moving parts

Each of these problems has the potential to become particularly destructive, still, the bulk of these can be solved by investing in quality manufactured towers and proper installation. For instance, in the areas of high exposure, the use of non-corroding material such as engineered plastic (e.g. HDPE) can make a world of difference. Choosing corroding metals for the structure or casings can lead to a potentially dangerous and costly leak requiring downtime for repair.

Just remember that damage comes from both chemical and mechanical sources, which is why you should always be on high alert.

How to Maintain a Cooling Tower?

In order to make this maintenance effort more systemic, you need to divide this by how regularly the tasks are performed. With that in mind and without further ado, here are some tasks that you would do well to perform every month, three, or six months.

Once Every Week

When talking about safety, from the standpoint of health and environment, once every week you need to inspect the cooling tower system for traces of heterotrophic bacteria. Legionella needs to be analyzed in a laboratory that specializes in its detection.  Also, a good visual and audio inspection of the tower can spot issues early, especially biological growth or fouling, look for algae growth or calcium buildup.

Monthly Maintenance

Regular maintenance revolves around a timely cooling tower inspection. Ideally, an inspection of various parts depends on their order of urgency.

On a monthly basis, one needs to inspect the general conditions of the cooling tower and the clarity of sump water. Under general conditions, you need to start with elements like fan deck, stairway, ladder, and walkways. Most importantly, you need to check the clarity of sump water. The easiest way to inspect it is to take a look at the sump screen, as well as the anti-cavitation device (if there is one). Now, ideally, the sump screen should be as clean as possible.

Next, you need to check the water level in the cold-water basin and make all the necessary adjustments. While looking at the adjustment, you might also want to inspect the basin flow control valves. Here, you’re looking for signs of either wear and tear or regular corrosion. If they’re in good condition, they are safe to use. Operating these valves manually in order to balance water is one of the essential steps in the maintenance of cooling towers.

Once you’re done with the water balance, you want to check the float ball and make-up valve. This is a part that you want to switch manually in order to make sure that they are properly closed or opened.

Cooling towers have a fan system that runs on electricity. As such, you want to ensure that the line voltage and motor amperage are maintaining proper consistent readings. While you’re at it, you also want to check the joints between the motor mount and the support that it rests on.

Every 3 Months

While these tasks are required somewhat less frequently, they’re an essential part of the cooling tower maintenance process. Since they’re done every 3 months, skipping or not conducting the inspection thoroughly enough could have catastrophic consequences. After all, if you miss something during the inspection, you need to wait 3 more months until the next inspection instance.

One of the first steps you need to do is lubricate the motor bearing. However, this is only done in a situation where the motor has a fitting for greasing. The majority of cooling tower motors are manufactured to require no external greasing. It all comes down to the type of industrial cooling tower on the premises.

Now, there are two factors that determine the effectiveness of this. The first one is the wear-and-tear and it’s quite situational. The second one is the quality of the lubricant. You might also want to add these materials as well when trying to get a realistic estimate of cooling tower costs.

Now that you’ve crossed the motor bearing off the cooling tower inspection checklist, it’s time for you to check for obstructed water flow through nozzle orifices. Regardless if you notice any obstruction, it’s always safer to just clean and flush spray nozzles. Keep in mind that this is something you won’t do every day.

Next, you should check the tightness of all bolts at fan assemblies.  Once the inspection is done, you need to retighten any not at specified torque. As soon as you’re done with this, you should also inspect the fan/motor assembly, look for any damage to fan blades and motor condition.  Also, ensure your vibration cut-out switch is wired and functioning properly.

It is also a good idea to meet with the water treatment company that is regularly monitoring tower chemical treatment to review records and future treatment recommendations.  Biological growth or heavy scaling can greatly hurt efficiency and damage the tower and other downstream equipment as well as be very expensive to reverse.  Competent water treatment is not a place to sacrifice quality for saving costs of your cooling tower.

Every 6 Months 

While water sump is an inevitability when it comes to the functioning of any cooling tower out there, flushing it is a part of every cooling tower maintenance checklist. Still, it is of the highest priority that this is done in the cleanest, safest, and most ethical possible manner. This most likely depends on the local regulations and options, which is why contacting local authorities is the way to go.

Key Takeaways

At the end of the day, there are only three ways to ensure the security of your cooling tower system. First, you need to be systematic (which is why you need a checklist). Second, you need to be vigilant (which is why you need to perform these inspections regularly). Third, you need to learn as much as you can about the topic of cooling tower maintenance (which is why this list exists in the first place). With these three factors on your side, maintaining your cooling towers shouldn’t be too big of a problem.

The last word of advice, it’s always best if you were to talk to the manufacturer directly regarding the maintenance. Contact us today to learn more about solutions such as induced draft cooling towers or our forced draft cooling towers.


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