Maximize Cooling Tower Performance: Your Comprehensive Start-up Guide

Evaporative cooling systems are often shut down and drained during winter to prevent damage. Before resuming operation, it’s crucial to undertake certain steps for optimal mechanical performance and Legionella prevention. 

During lengthy shutdowns, once through cooling systems are prone to bacteria growth and sediment buildup. That’s why, when starting up the system for cooling operation, it’s important to follow the recommendations of your water treatment supplier and the cooling tower manufacturer.  

Whether you’re preparing for the warmer months or looking to ensure your system runs smoothly all year round, this comprehensive checklist provides you with everything you need for a successful cooling system start-up. By following these steps, you can maximize cooling system performance and efficiency, reduce the risk of costly breakdowns, and prolong the life of your cooling tower system. And you can minimize your cooling towers Legionella risk!

Read on for further details and download our checklist today! 

Pre-Startup: Cooling Tower Mechanical Maintenance

Before initiating the startup process, it’s crucial to ensure your cooling tower’s mechanical components are in optimal condition. By following these essential maintenance tasks, you can identify and address any issues that may impact your system’s performance: 

1. Clean the cold water basin and distribution decks using a hose and brush where necessary. Flush the system to remove any residual debris.

2. Visually inspect the overall condition of the cooling tower, looking for signs of corrosion or damage. Take pictures to document any concerns for future reference.

3. Record the initial water meter reading before filling the water basin.

4. Fill the water basin and check the float operation. Clean and adjust it as required.

5. Open valves to the system and fill it completely.

6. Record the final water meter reading to determine the system’s capacity.

7. Operate the condenser pump until air is out of the system, checking for nozzle blockages and cleaning as necessary.

8. Turn off the condenser pump and inspect the overflow for any issues.

9. Restart the condenser pump, check the water level, and ensure no air is entering the system. If air is entering, adjust the water level and repeat the process.

10. Open and flush the main cooling tower header, if present.

11. For dual hot basin decks, check the water level on both sides and adjust if necessary.

12. Lubricate fan bearings according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

13. Change the oil in the gear reducer assembly as recommended by the manufacturer.

14. Check belts, motor pulleys, and mounts. Replace and adjust as required.

15. Inspect structural screws and bolts for tightness. Adjust if necessary.

16. Check electrical connections, contactors, relays, and operating/safety controls to ensure they are functioning correctly.

17. Operate cooling tower fans, check thermostat settings and adjust as needed.

18. Inspect the function and temperature settings of inlet dampers, if present.

19. Check and clean strainers, bleed, overflow, and drain components to ensure proper operation.

20. Inspect motor operating conditions and lubricate bearings per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

21. Check external seams for leakage and address any issues.

22. Check all operating setpoints and adjust as required.

23. Log all significant mechanical work for future reference and analysis.

Pre-Startup: Cooling Water Treatment Preparation

Proper water treatment is crucial for the efficient operation and longevity of your cooling tower. Before startup, take the following steps to ensure the effectiveness of your cooling tower water treatment program: 

1. Contact your water treatment specialist to inform them you are getting ready to start your cooling system.

2. Inventory all water treatment chemicals on site, and ordering more as required to avoid running out during the startup process.

3. Inventory reagents used for testing and replace any that are expired or nearing expiration.

4. Review all cooling water treatment chemicals, identifying the purpose of each.

5. Confirm the feed method, dosage, and schedule for each cooling water treatment chemical to ensure proper application and maximum effectiveness.

6. Review safety procedures for all chemicals, and ensure your team is aware of proper handling, storage, and disposal practices.

7. Review the testing schedule, methods, and recording procedures for your cooling water treatment program. This will help you maintain accurate records and ensure the effectiveness of the treatment process.

8. Inspect all chemical pump tubing for cracks. Replace any damaged components as needed.

9. Confirm all chemical pumps are free of leaks, fully functional, and primed for operation.

10. Clean and calibrate sensors, verify controller settings and functions, inspect water meters, and validate the operation of the flow switch and bleed valve. This will help ensure accurate readings and efficient system performance.

System Startup: Initiating Your Cooling Tower System

With your cooling tower’s mechanical components and water treatment program prepared, you can now begin the system startup process. Follow these steps to ensure a successful launch: 

1. Slug feed the filled tower with the appropriate amount of biocide and antifoam (if needed) to control microbial growth and prevent foaming.

2. Passivate galvanized towers with the appropriate amount of corrosion inhibitor to protect metal surfaces from corrosion and extend the system’s lifespan.

3. One week after startup, conduct microbiological dip slide and legionella tests to ensure the effectiveness of your biocide treatment.

4. Based on the test results, take further action to treat with biocide if necessary. This may include adjusting the dosage or treatment schedule to achieve optimal results.

5. Begin your normal treatment program, closely monitoring system performance and adjusting the treatment process as needed.

Trust Guardian Chemicals for Expert Cooling Tower Support

At Guardian Chemicals, we understand the importance of maintaining your cooling tower to ensure its longevity and efficiency. By following these steps, you can start up your cooling tower in the spring and annually with ease. If you need additional help we offer:

  • free site assessments
  • professional system assessments
  • chemical water treatment program reviews
  • and can help develop water management plans to minimize your Legionella risk

Our experienced team provides customized solutions to improve the performance of your cooling tower, prevent corrosion and scale, and extend its lifespan. By working with Guardian Chemicals, you gain access to our extensive knowledge and expertise, ensuring your cooling tower system operates at peak efficiency throughout the year. 

Contact us today to learn more and schedule your free site assessment and chemical treatment program review. Discover how Guardian Chemicals can help you optimize your cooling tower system, saving you time and resources while protecting your valuable investment. 

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FAQ: Successful Cooling Tower and Open Recirculating Cooling System Start-Ups

Find the answers to common questions and best practices to start up your once through cooling system after extended downtime. Whether you’re a facility manager or an engineer, successful and efficient start-up of your cooling tower system starts with a focus on cleanliness, water treatment, system checks, and Legionella prevention. And, if you can’t find the answer to your question or need help with cooling tower startup and cooling water treatment, contact us today!

How do I start up my cooling tower after winter or an extended downtime?

Consult your water treatment specialist prior to start-up and make sure you have the right cooling water treatment chemicals on hand. Begin with a thorough mechanical maintenance check and inspection. Perform physical cleaning to remove debris and biofilm, prevent bacterial growth and ensure efficient operation. Once cleaned and the tower is filled and circulating, ensure proper water treatment dosage with regular water testing intervals. Start normal operation with careful system checks including Legionella culture testing.

How can I ensure my cooling tower operates efficiently after a seasonal shutdown?

Follow the recommended steps for startup, system checks regular water testing and Legionella culture testing. By doing this, you can validate proper system start-up and maintain peak once through cooling system performance.

How does a water treatment specialist contribute to cooling tower startup?

Your water treatment specialist will recommend a water treatment program tailored to your cooling system’s needs to enhance efficiency, safety, and reliability.

When should I consult a water treatment specialist for my cooling tower?

Consult a water treatment specialist before starting normal cooling system operations and throughout cooling season to ensure your treatment program is optimized for your specific system.

How can I make sure my cooling water treatment is effective?

Before starting up your once through cooling system, coordinate with your water treatment specialist, check chemical supplies, and review your water treatment chemical plan and safety procedures.

What are the risks of not properly starting up my cooling tower?

Improper startup can lead to reduced efficiency, increased wear, and higher risk of contamination including increased risk of Legionella bacterial growth. This can lead to system damage, increased energy and operational costs, and health hazards such as Legionnaires’ disease.

What steps are crucial for Legionella prevention during cooling tower start-up?

To reduce the potential for Legionella key steps include comprehensive cleaning, water treatment program readiness, and Legionella culture testing.

How does Guardian Chemicals support cooling tower start-up and maintenance?

Guardian Chemicals offers site and system assessments and reviews your chemical treatment programs to optimize your open recirculating cooling system performance. Based on our findings, we can recommend the right cooling tower chemicals for efficient operation at the lowest operating cost.

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