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Cooling Tower

Cooling Tower

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Published by Maulik Dave

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Maulik Dave on Sep 21, 2011
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11/25/2012

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T
he cooling tower is the operational portal to the nat-ural evaporative “heat sink” for a commercial orindustrial cooling system. Its health, or lack thereof,can severely affect the cooling potential of your customer’shvac system.Because the cooling tower is the open end of a coolingsystem, it has unique maintenance requirements. Themost essential subsystems of a cooling tower are the air-flow, waterflow and structural elements.Each has distinctive characteristics that must bereviewed, diagnosed and monitored on an ongoing basisto avoid operational problems. The most difficult of thesewould be the loss of the cooling tower fan at peak heatload, but smaller structural component problems can alsolead to dramatic system failures.
Inspecting the airflow system
The fan and its drive components (motor, gear reducer,driveshaft) are a tower’s venting system. Inefficient airflowlimits the ability to dissipate significant heat loads, and sig-nificant damage can occur without regular maintenance.The fan and its drive components are a cooling tower’sprimary moving parts and are subject to more wear-and-tear than any other parts of the tower. Lack of propermaintenance to the airflow system is the most commoncause of tower downtime.Following are the important inspection and servicingprocedures to keep in mind regarding cooling towermechanicals:
Motor inspection:
Semiannually inspect the mechani-cal integrity, bearing lubrication and insulation integrityof the cooling tower’s motor. Inspect the motor housingfor damage or looseness, and remove any oil, dust or scaledeposits from the motor. Use the following table as aguide for determining the greasing periods for ball bear-ing motors:Use bearing grease recommended by the motor manu-facturer or use another suitable grease for ball bearingmotors used on cooling towers. Bearings can be checkedfor roughness by turning the outer race slowly with yourfingers while holding the inner race. If the bearing feelsrough or binds in spots, it should be replaced.With the motor off, check the oil level. If the oil is con-taminated, it should be drained and replaced. Regardless of contamination, the oil should be changed once a year.Check the insulation resistance of the motor once a year.Using a megohmmeter (with the motor off), apply poten-tial to the winding for one minute before taking a reading.
• Gear reducer inspection:
Semiannually inspect themechanical integrity and oil level of the cooling tower’sgear reducer. Entering the tower cell, lockout and tag themotor control for the applicable cell motor. Be sure tocheck that all the assembly bolts and cap screws are tight.To ensure that the oil plugs and pipe connections arefree from leaks, verify that their connections are in place.It also is necessary to ensure the vent on the gear reduceris clear. Inspect the mechanical equipment anchor bolts,drive shaft coupling bolts and coupling screws. Tighten asrequired. It also is important to check the exterior of gear
How to Keep CoolingTowers Running Strong
Part one of a guide to cooling tower maintenancefocuses on the mechanical aspects of cooling towers
PART
1
Duty1-30 40-250horsepowerhorsepowe
Intermittent12 months12 months8-16 hours12 months6 monthsper dayContinuous8 months4 months
BY KEN MORTENSEN
 
reducer for rust or chipped paint. If needed, touch it upwith a coat of epoxy paint.To check the gear reducer oil level, shut down the unitand allow five minutes for the oil level to stabilize. If addi-tional oil is required, it is a good idea to note the amountadded in the maintenance logbook for future reference.
Drive shaft inspection:
Semiannually inspect the driveshaft for corrosion, cracking of rubber bushings and cou-plings, and looseness of hardware. Replace all rubbercomponents showing excessive deterioration, and tightenall loose nuts and screws. If vibration readings indicate animbalance or misalignment, follow the instructions foundin the manufacturer’s service manual.
• Fan inspection:
Semiannually inspect mechanicalintegrity, blade-pitch angle, torque settings and blade-tipclearance. To inspect the fan, enter the tower cell, andlockout and tag the motor control for the applicable cellmotor. Inspect the fan guard for damage and missing fas-teners, and replace any missing components.It is important to visually inspect each fan blade care-fully for damage and corrosion. Remove any accumulatedscale or dirt. Check to see that the drain holes of the bladeare clear, and rotate the fan to ensure that the blade tipsdon’t make contact with the fan’s cylinder walls.To check the performance of the motor load, run thefan until the motor and gearbox have reached operatingtemperature (approximately 30 minutes). Record theaverage voltage and amperage readings of all three linesfor use in calculating the motor horsepower by the follow-ing equation:The calculated horsepower should equal, but not exceed,the specified contract horsepower. Measurements used inthe above calculations must be made with hot water flow-ing through the tower. To obtain contract horsepower, re-pitch the blades as required. For specific guidelines on re-pitching, refer to the manufacturer’s service manual.
• Vibration motor survey:
Horizontally attach the mag-netic base of the accelerometer to the motor housing, andoutput the shaft centerline as close as possible.Using a handheld vibration analyzer, observe the fre-quency domain spectrum of the vibration signal in unitsof velocity. It is important to use the spectrum chart forproper analysis. To identify the frequencies for the unitmodel number, refer to the critical vibration frequenciessection in the manufacturer’s service manual.
• Vibration gearbox survey:
Monitor vibration of anoperating gearbox from outside the tower cell with theuse of an accelerometer permanently mounted to thegearbox casing. The ideal mounting location is horizontalin the casing surrounding the fan shaft bearing. For spe-cific information, refer to the critical vibration frequen-cies section of the manufacturer’s service manual.
Check the water-flow path
The water-flow path includes the hot water basin, nozzles,fill/cooling media, cold-water basin, and makeup and flow(actual volts x actual amps)Horsepower =x(nameplate volts x nameplate amps)nameplatehorsepower
Maintaining structuraland component integritywill help keep coolingtowers in good shape.Maintaining structuraland component integritywill help keep coolingtowers in good shape.
 
 valves at the tower. For maximum performance, theflow must be equally distributed, unimpeded and nearrecommended design.In order to prevent substantial loss of cooling or fill col-lapse, the following inspections should be done semiannu-ally:
• Splash fill.
It is important to check the condition of the splash bars – look for sagging, fallen, misplaced,broken or decaying splash bars, and excessive buildupof scale. Ensure all supporting grids are in place andevenly spaced.Be sure to check the coating on steel grids, the con-dition of the welds on stainless wire grids and the con-dition of fiberglass grids. Replace any grids showingexcessive deterioration. Also, remember to examinethe tower members, which support the grid itself.
• Film fill.
Look for buildup of scale, algae or othercontaminants, as well as erosion, sagging, torn sheets orevidence of ice damage. Also examine the condition of thesupport members.
• Drift eliminators.
The cleanliness and effectiveness of drift eliminators are critical in preventing the spread of Legionella pneunophila bacteria. Make certain all air pas-sages are clear of debris and all the components are prop-erly installed.It is also critical to check the condition of the seals toassure that water can’t bypass the eliminators throughdeteriorated or missing seals. Wood blades and frames aresubject to severe conditions and should be checked for rotand decay.
• Hot and cold water basin/nozzle inspection.
Eachquarter, inspect the hot and cold water basin and nozzle.Look for deterioration of the basic material, and checkwood for decay and steel for corrosion. Also, look forleaks between adjoining panels to prevent hot waterstreams from bypassing the fill.Inspect the integrity of the basin support members toensure their integrity for continued service, including thetightness of bolted joints in steel or fiberglass basins.Check the iron distribution piping for corrosion and lossof coating material. Spot-check for leaks and tightness of bolted joints, and look for signs of deterioration on PVCor fiberglass pipe.Inspect the distribution valve components for corrosionor signs of wear. Operate the valve manually through itsfull range of travel, and reset the valves to balance thewater flow to all basin sections. Temporarily remove thenozzle and disassemble to check for clogging or signs of internal wear.Be sure that all nozzle components such as removablesplash plates are in place and working properly. Also, lookfor any loss of material resulting from corrosion or ero-sion, and check for adequate connection to the branchpipe or distribution to basin floor. Any debris found in thebasin must be removed.Because buildup of sludge and accumulated debris pro- vides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, check the coldwater basin and remove buildup. Also, check the conditionof the sump, sump screen and anti-cavitation device (if oneis used). The sump screen should be free of trash.Note any corrosion or loss of metal in cold-water basincomponents. Inspect wood, steel and fiberglass basins forsigns of leaks or breakdown of sealing material.
• Makeup valve inspection and test.
Semiannuallyinspect and test the makeup valve to ensure cooling-systemwater supply. Operate the float valve or float switch manu-ally to make sure that it opens and closes properly. Inspectall the valve components for excessive deterioration.
Monitor structural integrity
The tower structure provides the housing, and the air andwater seal that allow the tower to function. Deteriorationof this shell threatens the entire tower system and allowsbypass of both air and water, reducing efficiency.Semiannually inspect the structure of the system.Consider tower age, past servicing or repair, plant capacityneeds, desire for more capacity and the future service lifeof the unit being observed. Also, check the following:
• Tower casing.
Look for leaks, cracks, holes or generaldeterioration, including air leaks between adjoining pan-els. Make sure that the hardware is tight and in good con-dition, and inspect the steel casing for corrosion or scalebuildup. Examine wood casing for signs of wood decay,including soft rot or plywood delamination.Make sure that access doors are in good working orderand that they are shut tightly when the tower is in opera-tion. It is important to properly replace asbestos cementboard (ACB) casing immediately, regardless of its condition.Contact the proper federal agency such as the U.S.Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)or U.S. EPA, as well as local and state agencies for infor-mation concerning specific regulations and requirementsfor handling and the disposal of asbestos wastes.
• Structure.
Inspect the structure of a steel tower forevidence of corrosion, particularly for any loss of metal.
Use a handheld vibration analyzer to check mechanical operations.

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