Cooling towers are an essential aspect of heat management for many industrial applications. From power plants to chemical manufacturing, these towers help to manage heat and internal pressures by allowing gasses and liquids to cool quickly and efficiently. However, cooling towers are precision-built, and like any industrial equipment will require regular maintenance to maintain peak performance.
Power plants that rely on direct and indirect hyperbolic stack natural draft cooling towers must ensure that they are always operating at peak efficiency. Consequently, regular cooling tower cleaning and maintenance performed by expert personnel is imperative in order to achieve that goal. Cooling tower cleaning is one of the most important procedures you can perform to boost system performance. Trust the 25+ years of experience from The Merrick Group for your next nuclear power plant service.
What Is a Cooling Tower?
Cooling towers are industrial coolers that eliminate waste heat that originates from different sources such as industrial machinery or oil refineries. Cooling towers reject heat, either through the use of evaporation to cool the waste heat or by using airflow to eliminate heat. These two different systems are referred to as direct, open circuit, and indirect closed circuit cooling towers.
Regular cooling tower maintenance and repair is essential to keeping the cooling towers operating effectively by minimizing scaling and ensuring that bacteria, algae, and fungi are not able to flourish.
There are many ways that cooling towers can lose efficiency. From industrial and environmental buildup to surface texture changes, towers must undergo periodic maintenance over time. Contact The Merrick Group today for solutions to your cooling tower maintenance and repair.
Cooling Tower Maintenance and Repairing Process
The process of industrial cooling tower maintenance and repairs requires intricate planning as portions of the power plant will have to be periodically shut down to safely and effectively complete the process. By working with the highly-skilled and experienced workforce of
Utilizing a proven and experienced firm ensures that all environmental and safety regulations will have strict adherence. This will be true throughout the entire process from the smallest detail to the biggest project of the cooling tower maintenance and repair schedule.
- The cooling tower cleaning process begins with guardrail and ladder inspections to ensure that the power plant staff and cleaning personnel are operating in a safe manner and environment. Any repairs are done immediately before proceeding further with the maintenance and repair process.
- Once completed, the process of dewatering the basin utilizing both internal systems as well as specialized portable systems brought on site is undertaken by the expert cleaning company. Specialized high-pressure water, as well as industrial vacuum systems, are utilized to remove and gather the resultant silt and sludge that gathers at the bottom of the basin. The process is virtually the same in a partitioned cooling tower basin with the exception that the partitions do not require total shutdown.
- This process works in tandem with the removal of algae and debris from the cooling tower support columns with high-pressure water systems designed specifically for this purpose. Once cleaned, the basin and tower support columns are inspected for any anomalies or deterioration with any subsequent repairs performed. All cooling tower fans and blades are inspected for optimum integrity, tolerances, and operation with any repairs or replacements performed as needed.
- Depending on the detailed plan developed for cooling tower cleaning and maintenance, the process shifts to inspection and maintenance of the cooling tower fill. At this point the highly trained personnel will inspect, and if necessary repair or replace any defective or deteriorating fill sheets as well as nozzles that feed water across the fill. At every stage of the cooling tower maintenance and repair process, certified personnel can ensure that all coatings meet industry standards by utilizing a variety of tools and techniques.
- Just as with any metal, wood, or PVC portions of the cooling tower, the cement shell as well as all other concrete elements of the cooling tower can see a variety of degradations and cracks over time due to a variety of process functions. Utilizing the specifications of the cooling tower’s original design plans and specifications, personnel will inspect for leaks, cracks, joint failure leakage, anchor bolt corrosion, and other defects that can impair the tower itself. Similar processes are undertaken for the foundation support columns, superstructure, embedded reinforcing steel bars, and other elements of the tower where concrete and steel are utilized.
- This portion of the cooling tower maintenance and repair process focuses first on identifying the damages and then determining the root cause of failed concrete/structural elements. An industry-standard engineered solution is tailor-designed for each type of repair whether it is partial or full-depth structural member section repairs, foundation stabilization, containment liner, crack repair, or simply stopping cooling water egress.
The Merrick Group offers reliability, efficiency, dependable technology, safety, and worldwide service to meet your needs. Contact us to learn how we can personally assist with your next industrial project.
Best Practices for Cooling Tower Cleaning and Maintenance
1. Preventing Harmful Organisms
There are several things to keep in mind when performing cooling tower maintenance. Due to the presence of water and heat, cooling towers are the perfect environment for certain bacteria and fungi to cultivate. Perhaps the most well-known, and dangerous, of these is Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. It is recommended to clean cooling towers at least twice a year, at a minimum, to avoid harmful bacterial and fungal growth. During these cleanings, the towers should be subjected to a thorough disinfection routine to effectively kill any organisms living inside the tower. However, it is preferable to have a continuous biocide program in place to ensure that potentially dangerous bacteria and other organisms will never have the opportunity to infect the tower. Therefore, regular cleaning is essential to properly maintain cooling towers and prevent harmful organic growth.
2. Descaling Mineral Deposits
In addition to preventing the growth of harmful organisms, descaling is an important part of the maintenance of cooling towers. Descaling the mineral deposits that tend to build up on cooling towers is an essential component of regular maintenance. Typically, this is accomplished by using a chemical descaler to remove the deposits.
3. Sludge & Debris
Another component of cooling tower maintenance is the removal of sludge or debris that gathers in the cooling towers over time. After removing the free water, the sludge remains in the tower and can then be sucked out with the use of high-powered vacuums.
While regular cleaning is important, it’s also a good idea to look at prevention when considering a maintenance plan. Chemical treatment programs, when used regularly, can help prevent issues like the growth of dangerous bacteria and fungi as well as hinder the build-up of mineral deposits.
5. Looking Ahead
According to OSHA standards, cooling towers should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected twice a year, at a minimum. Typically, these cleanings are scheduled around the change of seasons, during the time immediately before the cooling tower’s start-up and immediately following its cessation. Regular water treatment, descaling, and cleaning up sludge and other debris will ensure that the cooling tower will function properly. Taking proactive measures will prevent the growth of harmful organisms as well as help the cooling tower function properly.
To begin scheduling your Cooling Tower Cleaning and Maintenance, contact The Merrick Group today!
High-Pressure Water Blasting for Cooling Tower Cleaning
One of the most effective methods for cleaning cooling towers is high-pressure water blasting, which as the name implies is a method of using highly pressurized water that is directed sequentially over the thermal surfaces of the tower. This method presents multiple benefits when compared to other cooling tower cleaning options:
High-Pressure Waterblasting Is Thorough
Because the water jets can be accurately directed, and the pressure regulated to ensure that all debris and contaminants are removed from the thermal surfaces, waterblasting is one of the most efficient and complete ways to cool a large surface such as a cooling tower. And all of the water, and thus the debris, can be collected afterward, meaning that there will be a minimal environmental impact from the cleaning process.
High-Pressure Waterblasting Is Safe
Because waterblasting does not involve harsh chemicals, nearly any surface can be cleaned using this method. The only things to consider are whether or not the surface can withstand the pressure of the hydro-excavation water jets, and whether or not any equipment that may come into contact with the water will be adversely affected by moisture. Thus, high-pressure waterblasting offers a clean and environmentally friendly method of cleaning large surfaces quickly and thoroughly.
High-Pressure Waterblasting Works In Very Small Surface Details
There are many facets to the surface geometry of certain surfaces. This can be by design, where many small holes or crevices are necessary for the proper functioning of the equipment, or it can be due to erosion from weather or chemicals. Regardless of the reason, high-pressure waterblasting is able to clean out nearly any contamination from these very small and difficult to clean areas. With the combination of wide-width blasting and nearly pin-point precision, highly focused cleaning, there are few if any surfaces that can’t be properly cleaned using high-pressure waterblasting.
There are many places within an industrial application where industrial and environmental contaminants can accumulate, and standard maintenance procedures will dictate that these areas are routinely cleaned. This cleaning process can be costly and time-consuming using slower, less robust cleaning methods. However, with high-pressure waterblasting, carried out by trained industrial maintenance professionals, the cleaning process can be fast and pain-free. With the nearly limitless potential for cleaning applications, high-pressure waterblasting is among the top choices for industrial cleaning across a wide variety of industries.
Cooling Tower Maintenance and Cleaning Services
The Merrick Group is a highly experienced and tenured cooling tower maintenance and repair vendor. Our reach is global, as we contract with power plants all across the world because of our detailed and exhaustive program for locating, qualifying, and quantifying any deterioration points. Learn about our Quality Assurance & Quality Control for peace of mind.
Once the process has been thoroughly mapped out and characterized with a detailed repair approach for each individual need, the process can begin under strict timetables for completion. This approach is designed to address thermodynamic, chemical and construction material properties of the structure operating within the cooling tower process service environment. Once completed, The Merrick Group will work with our power plant client to develop an ongoing long-term repair program and maintenance schedule that can ensure an efficient cooling tower.
Note: That article was originally posted on 23rd Oct 2014, and updated on 25th May 2022.