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A Water Treater's Horror Story

Posted by IWC Innovations on Oct 30, 2020

So what kinds of ghostly, ghouly, gruesome things are lurking in your water…. & more importantly, what happens when you do not treat them? It seems logical that you must treat your water system to keep it operational. The fact is, what is haunting your water sources and service plumbing is something that only chemistry can send into the light. 

 

We at IWC Innovations were recently brought on for service on a several hundred thousand dollar cooling tower located on the 26th story of a new high rise. As anyone who has installed or purchased a cooling tower knows, this is not a cheap or simple installation. A crane and licensed crane operator to place this on the roof cost tens of thousands of dollars per day along with the labor costs for installation of pumps and plumbing equipment that also cost tens of thousands of dollars. This new location paid approximately $650,000. While choosing their system they did not do their due diligence and chose to instead purchase a device from the third party installer that stated that it would condition the water to soften the water at the entry point instead of an IWC Innovations approved chemical water treatment system. So you know what happened next….. chaos. 

 

The location started the tower and did not acid clean or mechanically clean the tower, both important steps to ensure good passivation and metal protection. They simply filled the tower with conditioned city water and turned it on to get cool air flowing to the building. They felt safe and secure because of the water conditioner that was “treating” the incoming water. But there are many skeletons in the closet for a cooling tower. A cooling tower is an open system, meaning the water interacts with the air in the environment. This means that the water in the system had construction debris blowing into it, environmental bacteria introduced and nothing to stop it or treat it. All IWC Innovations approved water systems have an automated controlled bleed that removes contaminants from the system by removing water ( referred to as bleed ) from the system. This system had no bleed capability. 

So, after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a cooling tower, pumps, plate exchanger, and labor for install, a worker noticed a white buildup on the tower and what looked like rust! Panicked they called us to take a look at it and what we saw was gruesome:

 

Cooling Tower Scale 1

 

Cooling Tower Scale 2

 

Cooling Tower Scale 3

 

Cooling Tower Scale 4

 

 

 

This is something out of a water treater horror movie! The nearly BRAND NEW tower showed clear signs of corrosion! Since the tower was constructed of galvanized steel the water had attacked the zinc coating and removed most of it from the basin, the microbial growth has started to form a biofilm in the louvres (outer areas of the cooling tower looks like a cheese grater) which could harbor dangerous bacteria like Legionella Pneumophila. There was also rust forming on the edge of the support structures. All of this in a matter of a few months. Even worse is that most manufacturers require CHEMICAL treatment in order to comply with the terms of the warranty, this means that the brand new tower is no longer covered under a mechanical warranty. 

The absolute worst part of this nightmare on water street is the loss of service life on this tower. The loss of the zinc layer will shorten its lifespan by around ten years. This means that they lost around $100,000 of service life. Had our customer consulted with a commercial water treatment specialist at IWC Innovations they could have saved between $80,000 and $90,000 in the long run. If you have a water system in your service plumbing providing any service to your building (heating, cooling, steam generating boilers) it needs chemical treatment and monthly/quarterly analysis by a qualified professional. 

 

Contact IWC to find out more about how our highly trained and skilled water treaters can keep this water horror story from happening at your facility, 

 

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Topics: Water Treatment