Any building that relies on a cooling tower for heat exchange and transfer will be subject to regular inspections by the NY City/NY State Department of Health to ensure that it is not a health risk to those in the area.
However, the process of inspection can seem daunting, and you may not know what to expect. A cooling tower inspection is nothing to be concerned about and is a vital opportunity to learn about flaws in your system so that you can improve your routine maintenance and strategies.
Why You Need Cooling Tower Inspections
Cooling tower inspections are a critical part of public health and wellness. These important machines keep large buildings cool and by pumping water through various heat transfer equipment.
However, the water that makes its way through a cooling tower may be contaminated with bacteria and debris; while any bacteria can be problematic, Legionella is of particular concern. This gram negative bacteria can cause severe or even fatal illness in humans if it is absorbed by a mucous membrane, such as in the nose and mouth.
When cooling towers create mist and evaporate water during their normal operation, they could be spreading Legionella across a wide area if they are not regularly inspected.
The Tower Inspection Process
The inspection process for a cooling tower is relatively straightforward. The entire inspection will be simpler if you abide by regular and consistent maintenance and safety schedules.
If you are found to be in violation of any regulations during the inspection, you will receive a notification as well as an explanation of how long you have to fix the problem before you incur a fine.
Cleaning and Maintenance Considerations
Cooling tower operators are mandated by their local laws to work with someone who is qualified to conduct routine maintenance and monitoring on a cooling tower.
Part of this standard maintenance that must be regularly attended to is cleaning the equipment to remove scale buildup, biofilms, sludge, algae, rust and any other debris that may be present in the system. Biocides can be used to remove any biological material, such as algae, that has built up in the tower.
As an added benefit, removing these contaminants also prevents the system from becoming fouled, which can save you money on replacement parts and energy.
Sampling and Other Tests
One of the things that an inspector will take the time to review is the quality of the water and what is present in it. This is a type of routine maintenance that you should also be examining from time to time.
Having a good relationship with an experienced Legionella professional is beneficial here, as they maintain connections with important resources like labs that can test the specific samples taken to determine exactly what type of bacteria are present in your water.
Most water is tested weekly for some varieties of bacteria and at least every 90 days for Legionella. If Legionella bacteria or another unwanted element is detected during sampling, a lab can determine exactly which strain it is so that your water treatment plan can be as effective as possible in destroying the risk.
Evidence-Based Water Treatment Plans
An additional part of the inspection that a technician will review is your water treatment plan. Your building must have a consistent and documented plan for treating the water and keeping it free from dangerous bacteria.
Water in the cooling tower must be treated at least once per day to inhibit the growth of Legionella, and the facility should also be able to demonstrate a competent emergency plan for what to do if Legionella is detected.
This plan should exemplify a thoughtful approach to dealing with the danger as soon as possible, including contact information for Legionella resources and a strategy for shutting the cooling tower down if required.
If you do not yet have an emergency risk plan for Legionella, or if you believe that the emergency or maintenance strategies you are relying on in your building could use some fine-tuning, a Legionella compliance expert would be a good resource for developing a better plan.
Work with the Expert Legionella Professionals to Develop a Long-Term Plan
If you are concerned about an upcoming Department of Health inspection of your cooling tower, or if you would like to make sure that your results are as positive as possible, be sure to work with cooling tower experts ahead of the inspection.
Legionella Compliance Solutions would be happy to review the unique risk factors that make your tower susceptible to bacterial growth and offer guidance on how to improve your processes. Reach out to schedule an evaluation with a professional technician at Legionella Compliance Solutions today.