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How To Clean A Cooling Tower?

With wind kicking up dirt, sand, leaves, and other debris,  it’s no surprise that cooling towers get absolutely filthy.  Suddenly there’s a thick layer of sludge and slime at the bottom of the tower in the basin.  Cooling tower water that’s dirty can clog fill media and foul tubes in your chiller.


1. Turn off the cooling tower fans!

It’s critical to your safety and those that are helping clean the cooling tower to power down the fans.  They move at incredible speeds and can severely harm or kill a person.


2. Inspect Cooling Tower For Problem Areas

Take the time to inspect your cooling tower and find areas that needs attention. Check your fill media for fouling and for sludge in the hot water basin.


3. Protect Yourself With Safety Gear

Cooling towers heat and moisture encourage the growth of some dangerous bacterias such as Legionella. You’ll need to wear respiratory protection and eye protection.  This prevents you from becoming sick while cleaning the cooling tower.


4. Spray Cooling Tower For Mold

Before cleaning it’s a good step to treat the cooling tower surfaces and water with a mold killing product.  It helps control the workspace to ensure workers are safer and their health is protected.


5. Vacuum Out Sludge From Basin

To remove the sludge from the basin specialized vacuums are used.  These tower vacuums clean the hot water basin floor without the need to shut down the system or drain the basin.  During this process you’ll need to connect to a power source and either connect to a drainage outlet or use a filter system to return the water to the cooling tower.


6. Fill Tower Water Level

It’s nearly impossible to clean the cooling tower basin without losing some of the makeup water.  Once you’ve removed all of the sludge you should check to make sure the water levels are filled to operating parameters.


7. Clean Cooling Tower Fill Media

Fill media is the heart of the cooling tower and where the primary heat exchange takes place.  The fill directs the air being pulled through by the fans to come in contact with the hot water needing to be cooled.  If sections are fouled or clogged the distribution will be off.  This will cause diminished performance and cause your system to consume more electricity. Clean the fill with detergents or replace it when possible.


8. Set Up Annual Cooling Tower Cleaning

Cooling towers need to be completely cleaned at least 2 times per year.  Most operators choose to do this before starting them for the year and at shutdown.  If your location requires your cooling tower to be online for more of the year ensure you’re scheduling some downtime to maintain your towers.

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