Cold Weather Presents Unique Issues For Cooling Towers

Hello, and welcome back to the Industrial Cooling Solutions, Inc. blog. With summer coming to an end and autumn just quickly approaching, cooling towers across the country are going to face an interesting issue. During the spring and summer months, cooling towers have the benefit of natural, ambient heat to ensure that all liquid is kept in, well, a liquid state. As we all know (at least we assume you know if you are reading this blog), cooling towers are responsible for the mitigation of heat in industrial applications and, for the most part, tend to do their jobs well. As heat escapes from cooling towers and is mixed with water falling through specially designed fill materials, the majority of the heat is removed from the system and the industrial processes can continue without interruption. However, what happens when the temperatures outside begin to drop? What happens if, all of a sudden, spray nozzles located within a cooling tower are unable to properly spray water because they have become frozen shut. In today’s post, we are going to proper cold weather operation guidelines as they relate to cooling towers and what you, as a cooling tower enthusiast, can do in order to make sure that your towers are operating as optimally as possible when the temperature decides to drop. Continue reading below to learn more.

Cold Weather Brings With It Special Circumstances

For the most part, cold weather tends to interrupt a lot of processes that, during warmer times, function perfectly fine. For the purposes of this blog post, we feel that we first need to define what we mean by “cold weather” as it relates to the operation of cooling towers. For our purposes, sustained freezing conditions occur when more than 24 hours go by without wet bulb temperatures going above 32°F. This is considered a sustained freeze because, unfortunately, during weather conditions such as this there is no point where the ambient temperature reaches a high enough level for a freeze-thaw cycle to occur. When this occurs, certain principles must be followed in order to ensure that the cooling tower is able to properly perform its intended function. Below, we have listed these basic principles.

  • When operating a cooling tower in cold weather conditions, do not operate the tower without a heat load and, most importantly, do not allow the cooling tower to remain in unattended operation for multi-day periods experiencing subfreezing temperatures.
  • Always maintain the design minimum or greater amount of water flow rate over the cooling tower heat exchange media, also known as the fill, at all times. This ensures that water is flowing over the fill media at all times and reduces the instances of water freezing to the fill material.
  • Maintain the proper airflow by ensuring that the cooling tower fan is in proper, working order. This works to maintain above freezing water temperatures in all section of the fill media, further ensuring that the fill media will not become frozen after repeated exposure to subfreezing temperatures.
  • If the desired system condenser water flow is reduced below the minimum, the number of cooling tower cells must be reduced at the same time. This works to make sure that the water flow is greater than or equal to the minimum flow per cell.
  • Certain manufacturers of cooling towers may be able to extend the flow percentage minimum to a lower value by using certain design provisions of internal cell water distribution that can accommodate low flow by reducing active plan area while keeping the industrial cooling tower interior heated and moist.

These principles will work to ensure that the industrial cooling tower is able to operate as it should no matter the conditions of the outside atmosphere.
Thank You for taking the time to read our short blog series on the steps to take to make sure that your industry’s cooling tower is able to perform optimally during cold weather conditions. If you would like to learn more about the best ways to make sure that your cooling tower is able to perform during cold weather conditions, please contact us today at Industrial Cooling Solutions, Inc. We have a track record of providing the best in cooling tower installation, cooling tower parts, such as cooling tower fan blades, drive shafts, and motors, and consultation services. Contact us today and see why we are a trusted name in the industrial cooling tower industry.  

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