Summertime is a high-energy time for most facilities, as their cooling towers kick into high gear and work harder than ever to keep the building systems cool.
However, this boosted operation level also means that a cooling tower that is fostering Legionella bacteria may pose a greater danger than ever thanks to the growth-promoting effects of the sun and high temperatures during the warmest months.
Disinfection during the summer months is not only highly recommended but also mandatory for cooling towers in New York City and in order to be sure that you comply with the regulations, you must understand what disinfection means and how to do it.
Why Disinfection Became a Mandatory Part of Operation
When hundreds of individuals suddenly fell ill in the 1970s, medical experts were baffled. A wave of pneumonia and lung inflammation overtook a cluster of people, killing more than 30. It was not until some time after the initial case that scientists uncovered the culprit: Legionella bacteria.
Previously, those who operated cooling towers as part of their HVAC system were not aware that this potentially deadly bacteria could live and thrive in the water of the tower, and the tepid months of summer were potentially hazardous for Legionella’s growth.
Thus, regulations were introduced to carefully safeguard cooling tower operation and ensure that another outbreak did not arise. Part of the process of compliance with these regulations is disinfection during the summer, when Legionella may proliferate the most.
Hyperhalogenation: A Summertime Disinfection Specific
Disinfecting your cooling tower during the summer is not the same as the standard cleaning procedures that you may conduct a couple of times per year, although you should consider combining the two for a more efficient and cleaner tower.
The main problem with the summer months is that Legionella grow best in warm water, which is easier to achieve when the weather is hot.
Cooling towers perform their heat exchange through water evaporation, and water that is contaminated with Legionella may be evaporated into the air, spreading the illness not just in the area immediately around the building but for miles in all directions if the particles drift far enough.
One of the main processes that is required during mandatory summer disinfection is hyperhalogenation. This specific step is more than just scrubbing the surfaces of the tower to clean them; it includes bromine or chlorine in a biocide that is added to the water that circulates through the cooling tower.
This single large dose of chemicals serves to halt any replication of Legionella before it becomes an issue. Hyperhalogenation is required between July 1 and August 31, regardless of whether or when you have already cleaned your cooling tower.
Tangential Benefits of Compliance
One of the most valuable aspects of regularly complying with the summertime disinfection requirements is that your cooling tower will benefit in addition to the health and safety advantages of the process. When cooling towers are cleaned regularly, they function better and are more efficient. As towers operate, they evaporate water regularly.
The evaporated water leaves behind sediment and minerals that cling to the surfaces of the cooling tower and basin. Over time, these deposits can not only provide a shelter for bacteria but also a rough, challenging surface for water to navigate smoothly.
This impacts how efficiently your tower can run, and a less efficient tower will use more energy to achieve the same level of cooling, resulting in higher utility bills for you. Also, underneath the deposit, a community of bacteria will form, which may produce acid further leading to degradation of piping and equipment.
How to Remain Compliant
One of the benefits of establishing a relationship with a skilled water treatment professional for all of your cooling tower maintenance needs is that you do not need to worry about handling compliance on your own.
A certified pesticide applicator is required in order to comply with the hyperhalogenation mandate, which means that you cannot typically conduct this process yourself. Water quality monitoring is something that a qualified individual can perform, but working with a professional means that you can look to one place for all of your needs.
Remember that you must schedule your hyperhalogenation between July and August to stay compliant. If you are found to be out of compliance, you will be given a detailed report about why, as well as a timeline in which you may fix the issue. Typically, this ranges from same-day to seven days later. You will be fined, and repeat offenses could lead to more severe punishments.
Work with the Cooling Tower Water Treatment Professionals
Talking the regular maintenance for your cooling tower can be a challenge, but the experts at Legionella Compliance Solutions would be happy to guide you. Reach out to schedule an appointment with a technician to stay on top of your cleaning schedule.