You can locate them in any commercial or industrial building, but what exactly is the function of a cooling tower and why is it so important to maintain them?
Types of Cooling Towers
First, let’s begin by identifying the different types of cooling towers that may be in your building. There are generally two types of cooling towers, Natural Draft or Mechanical Draft.
A mechanical draft cooling tower are normally smaller, uses fans to generate air flow and are normally more expensive to run. A natural draft cooling tower facilitates air flow by the natural convection of the air, is normally less expensive to run, however, larger in size than a natural draft cooling tower. In a natural draft cooling tower, as the air becomes warm and moist in the tower, the air flow naturally rises above the cooler air being drawn in from the outside.
Film or Splash
Inside the cooling tower you will find either a Film Fill Media or a Splash Film Media. These film medias are installed to have optimal heat transfer as well as tower efficiency by increasing the amount of contact time and surface area between the air and water. The more time the water is exposed to the air, the more water heat is able to evaporate allowing it to cool down and reach optimal efficiency as a heat rejection device. This ultimately will improve heat transfer and tower efficiency. The film fill allows the water to spread into a thin film which exposes a larger amount of water surface in a smaller compact area, while the splash fill continually exposes more water to the airflow by breaking the falling water into little droplets. Fill and splash fill media both depend on the system having clean water and little to no debris for it to function optimally.
Calcium Build Up and increased energy expenditure
With water, unfortunately, comes eventual calcium buildup. Constant monitoring of the water in order to ensure that the fill media does not have a large calcium build up, is important in order to proactively avoid any obstructions in the system and to keep your cooling tower running in its most optimal condition.
When the system is neglected or an obstruction has been created, the system can have a higher than desired return water temperature. Consequently, the system would expend more energy and water since it needs to operate at a higher than necessary condensing pressure to satisfy the load. The tower would also be forced to operate longer at a higher fan horsepower since it will be trying to reach the designated cold water temperature. Both of these outlooks would ultimately increase your energy expenditure resulting in an increase in your energy and water bill. Maintaining your cooling towers will not only save you money in your operation budget in the long run but also help you conserve in your energy usage as well.
The concept is simple, the cleaner your tower is, the less work it has to do in reaching its cooling goals, the more stress in the system to reach the goals due to dirty water, the longer the system works to achieve its cooling goals, hence increasing your energy bill.
Cooling towers, while strong and efficient machines, require consistent upkeep and detailed inspections to ensure that they are operating at peak efficiency. At Stevensons Air Control we can help you create a maintenance plan that will assist you with your HVAC needs in order to provide optimal efficiency to your system. Call Us today at (847) CONTROL or contact us by email at Info@StevensonsAir.com to learn more about our preventative maintenance options.