As logic would have it, the success of tackling the more challenging tasks in your facilities depends on how well the routine ones have been handled. For example, our customers are continually challenged to save on energy and improve indoor air quality (IAQ). The best approach to meeting these objectives is to begin with the basics — basic cleaning and maintenance, that is.
Two areas of your facilities that largely influence energy costs and IAQ are HVAC systems and cooling towers. Nutrients, airborne dirt, and debris accumulate over time and attach themselves to components in the systems. Deposits can cause blockages and corrosion, which not only greatly reduces the operating efficiency, but can lead to significant damage and possibly failure of the system.
Spring is an ideal time for cleaning cooling towers and air cooling systems. Regularly scheduled cleaning and maintenance (at least once annually), not only results in properly functioning, more energy-efficient systems, but also ensures improved IAQ due to the removal of dirt, debris and contaminants which could be expelled through the air ducts.
During the NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Association) annual conference last month, I attended a seminar on the importance and benefits of properly maintaining cooling towers. Here are some of the fundamental steps to properly clean and maintain cooling towers:
Prevent sediment or algae from collecting in the water basin by flushing it out through the tower drain every two to three weeks
Stop scale build-up on the surface of the cooling tower
Clear debris from the air outlet and inlets
Check the pump to be sure it’s working properly
Check the belt drive system and oil level per manufacturer specifications
Inspect the water distribution system and clean water nozzles frequently
Disease prevention: Another reason it is so important to properly have cooling towers serviced and cleaned is to prevent the spread of contaminants and bacteria, specifically the common bacteria Legionella Pneumophila Bacillus which can cause Legionnaires’ disease. (All cases of the disease have been attributed to man-made environments.) Legionella, which is found in moist environments and water sources, can spread over a vast area due to drift (aerosols) carrying the bacteria from the tower. A thorough manual washout every six months is recommended to avoid all problems that can be encountered with cooling towers.
Air conditioner units; it’s all about air flow
Increased air flow equates to better performance. Dirty filters, clogged coils, fouled blowers impede air flow and lead to increased energy costs.
A complete HVAC system cleaning and inspection is best, but at the very least, have the evaporator and condenser coils inspected and cleaned this spring. This can significantly improve how air flows through the coils, allowing the compressor motor to run with greater efficiency.
When exposed to unfiltered outdoor air, condenser coils can easily trap dust and debris, which raises the condensing temperature and reduces the cooling capacity. A clogged coil reduces air flow, causing the compressor motor to consume more energy. A study conducted by Pacific Gas and Electric (PC&E) found that a dirty condenser coil can increase compressor energy consumption by 30 percent.
So by simply arranging for a good spring cleaning of these systems, you can meet the tougher challenges of saving energy and improving indoor air.