Reasons Why Cooling Towers Fail

17 June 2019

Cooling towers represent an incredibly elegant solution to an age-old problem. The tech behind these temperature-managing constructs basically scales-up a natural process. Based on nature’s own heat exchanger mechanism, the principles at work inside the towers can be found everywhere. However, these evaporative systems have evolved to encompass many additional features, many of which assure an environmentally safe air stream. What then happens if a cooling tower fails?

Troubleshooting Temperature Fluctuations

The following faults are troubling, but things could be worse, as we’ll highlight in a later passage of text. A cooling tower fails because its evaporative mechanism breaks down. The evaporative water flow begins to warm. As a knock-on effect, the air flowing through the structure warms too. Odds are the heat exchanger isn’t working properly. The air that initially cools the water is obstructed or low-flowing. Adjust the intake blades to correct the flow rate. Another problem here is the water level. Obstructed by a clogged filter or a jammed actuator, the water level rises too high. Because of the rise, the sprinkler temperature fluctuates. Filter jams and/or actuator seizures impact water or air flows. When those flows change unexpectedly, the functions of the heat exchanger are impinged, too. When troubleshooting cooling tower failures, those that impact temperature management performance, flow rates, leaks, blockages, and parts failures are viewed as everyday culprits.

All About the Health Endangering Hazards

At least a repair engineer knows where to look when a performance hit strikes. Elsewhere, suffering from a progressive failure, the equipment will keep on working, but at what cost? Drift eliminators, which are designed to reduce aerosolized losses, can fail. Misaligned or broken, the “drift” escapes as a wet stream. Imagine that wet load combining with concealed tower scale or some stubborn bacterial growth. With the damp conditions concealed inside the tower, the air quality begins to affect the weakened immune system of a child or elderly person. Those drift eliminators cannot fail. They must be maintained. By the way, talking of “health conditions,” we’re not limiting that term to people. 

Remember, cooling towers are used to regulate the functions of all kinds of structures. In occupied places, they do cool people; that statement is true enough. But, importantly, those structures also keep power stations and all sorts of heat-producing industrial processes cool. If a failure occurs, a controlled system, one that processes industrial-grade energies, could kick out ungovernable amounts of thermal energy. That’s a dangerous situation. If a motor fails, or a bearing breaks, or maybe a sprinkler system experiences a blockage, building managers can’t work blindly. In this scenario, cooling towers have real-time monitors, which act as system failure safeguards.

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