Cooling System Health Checks

Cooling System Health Checks

Just as people schedule an annual wellness visit to the doctor, it makes good sense to do the same for your cooling system and its components.  This is particularly important because of the deleterious effects of Covid on cooling systems.  Over the last year, manufacturing facilities have suffered because of reduced on-site service, inability to execute incremental improvements requiring management of change or process hazard analysis, and idling portions of the plant or operating at reduced loads.

Let’s run through the equipment and associated requirements to maintain a healthy cooling system.

Cooling Tower

  • Are there known repairs or maintenance that have been delayed?
  • When was the last inspection?
  • Has there been a performance assessment and are there any performance concerns?
  • Is the cooling tower suited to the current or projected load requirements?


Heat Exchangers

  • Are there known leaks?
  • When was the last time the exchangers were inspected and cleaned if necessary?
  • Have temperatures been monitored and have there been increasing trends?
  • Are any exchangers due for replacement and have design upgrades been considered?


Cooling Water Pumps

  • When was the last maintenance and inspection of impellers?
  • How well does the operation coincide with respect to pump curves and design flow?
  • What is the condition of basket strainers and pump screens?


Water Distribution Piping

  • What is the condition of the cathodic protection system?
  • Have you done an internal inspection?
  • Are there any leaks?
  • Are the flows to the heat exchangers balanced?


Sidestream Filter

  • Have you done an internal inspection?
  • How is the efficiency of particulate removal?
  • Are you monitoring the backwash frequency and effectiveness?


Chemical Treatment Program

  • Are your key performance indicators clearly defined and measurable?
  • Are the concentrations of chemicals within specified ranges?
  • Are monitoring results such as corrosion coupons and biological plate counts satisfactory?
  • Are your makeup and cycled water analyses current?
  • Is chemical consumption on target?
  • Are you in compliance with environmental restrictions?
  • Are your program costs on target?


In addition, there are several aspects of the cooling system that are often overlooked entirely:

Water Treatment Building and Chemical Feed System

  • What is the degree of automation?
  • Is there a need or desire for continuous online monitoring?
  • Are there issues with feed lines or feed pumps?
  • What are the feed locations and are there any chemical interferences?
  • What is the structural condition of water treatment building?


Business Practices and Administration of the Water Treatment Program

  • Are the roles and responsibilities clearly defined?
  • Is the service representative knowledgeable and responsive?
  • Do you receive on time delivery of chemicals?
  • Do you have written test procedures and operator logsheets?
  • Is the frequency of testing specified?
  • Do you have procedures for response to upsets?
  • Is there adequate operator training?
  • Is management reporting satisfactory?
  • Do you have a strategy for continuous improvement in place?
  • Do you have a plan for execution of productivity improvement projects?


At Becht, we have subject matter experts who can perform a comprehensive audit or Cold Eyes Review (CER) to objectively ascertain the health of your cooling system.

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About The Author

Allen Feltzin has over 30 years of experience in process engineering, maintenance, operations, and construction in large scale industrial plants based on his long career with BOC Gases, Murray Hill, New Jersey. He developed world class, state of the art cooling systems which were installed at over 80 sites in North America. He was responsible for every aspect associated with cooling towers: design, specification, erection, inspection, testing, retrofits, upgrades, and demolition. Al developed and presented training courses on cooling water treatment and cooling system equipment, both in North America and globally. He conducted a comprehensive audit achieving cost reductions and optimizations on a 360,000 gpm seawater cooled system at a 360 MW combined cycle power plant. As an Advisor with Becht, Al has worked with a European refinery to control calcium phosphate deposition and Legionella. He provided consultation to a US Gulf Coast Refinery on cooling tower life cycle optimization: repair vs. replace, review of inspection reports, thermal performance assessment, oversight of contractors, and asbestos abatement. He has built strong professional organizational affiliations, authored numerous technical papers and made presentations to various industry groups including the Cooling Technology Institute, American Chemical Society, National Association of Corrosion Engineers, Compressed Gas Association, and American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Mr. Feltzin has the following professional affiliations: Cooling Technology Institute, American Chemical Society, National Association of Corrosion Engineers, Compressed Gas Associations, and American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Mr. Feltzin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Delaware.

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Cooling System Health Checks

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