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When to Know Whether to Repair or Replace your Cooling Tower

About Cooling Towers
three cooling tower units on the roof - cooling tower experts

Like many key commercial HVAC system components, cooling towers are expensive to purchase. Additionally, these towers don’t last forever. With proper preventative maintenance, you can keep your towers running efficiently for years. But, there will likely come a time when they require repairs or replacement. Because of their hefty price tag, you must carefully assess which option is best for your situation. In some cases, you can make repairs that significantly extend the lifespan of a cooling tower. In others, replacement makes the most sense financially.  The latter is especially true with older systems in which the cooling tower is near the end of its lifespan.  


Average Cooling Tower Lifespan


With innovations in technology, the average lifespan of typical cooling towers has increased from years past. With regular maintenance, towers tend to last between 20 and 30 years before needing major repairs or replacements. However, when the proper steps have been taken throughout the years or just in cases of back luck, those major repairs may come due long before then.


Common Issues with Cooling Towers


A cooling tower consists of several different components, and some tend to break down and need repairs more often than others.  In some cases, parts break without reason or just due to age.  However, there are some common issues in all cooling towers that tend to cause parts to break down.  These are just a few of the reasons for repairs in a cooling tower.


Fouling:  The term “fouling” refers to surface clogging in a cooling tower, often occurring in the fill. Because the fill relies on water being able to pass through to cool the air, fouling is detrimental to the proper functioning of the entire tower. Clogs force the system to work harder and longer, using more electricity and reducing efficiency.


Corrosion:  The increased use of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) in cooling towers has helped with corrosion issues, but in order metal towers – this is a common problem. Common chemicals found in the water that passes through the tower can corrode the metal and lead to leaks.


Scaling:  During heat exchange, chemicals and minerals tend to break down, resulting in a built-up coating on a cooling tower’s surface. Over time, this build-up increases and makes it more difficult for the process of heat exchange to occur. Failure to prevent and keep up with regular cleaning can lead to major damages to the piping within a tower.


Cost of Repairs and Replacement


When thinking about either option, the cost doesn’t just include the price on the parts (if repairing) or tower (if replacing). You have to additionally factor in costs such as labor, equipment rental, and potential downtime of the system while these procedures are happening. These costs aren’t insignificant either.


Cooling towers vary in size, but those fitted for large manufacturing facilities or commercial buildings are very large and very heavy. Most owners decide to place these towers on a building’s roof, so getting it up there requires a hefty crane. Depending on the size of the cooling tower and the height of the building, renting a crane big enough will likely cost several thousands of dollars.  


Cooling towers are an essential part of the cooling system in large manufacturing facilities, so when considering replacement OR repairs, you must either plan so that this happens outside of working hours or factor in a loss of productivity in your total costs if that is not an option. Even an hour of downtime in a fast-paced production line could mean a significant loss in profitability


Lastly, labor cost is a huge factor to consider in both replacements and repairs. Because of the specialized nature of cooling towers, it’s necessary to turn to industry experts to make any necessary repairs on an existing tower. The same applies when installing a new one.


So, how do you know whether a repair is your best option or if it is time to replace the entire tower? The answer lies in combining the above costs of both options and also factoring in the age of your tower and potential lifespan increase with the necessary repairs. One thing you don’t want to do is invest in a hefty repair procedure only to ultimately need a replacement a couple of years in the future.


Cooling Tower Experts – We Know When to Repair or Replace


Because of the complicated nature of cooling towers and the fact that each cooling system is unique, knowing whether to make necessary repairs to a failing tower or opting for a replacement is a huge decision. The financial consequences of each decision must be carefully weighed, as well as adequate thought time is given in terms of the future of the system and the likelihood of additional problems down the road.


At Cooling Tower Experts, we have spent years in the field and working with building owners to develop and maintain cooling systems that stand the test of time. We know when a repair is the best decision and when it is time to upgrade to a new tower.


Our team can work with you, educating you along the way. We keep up-to-date on all innovations in the industry and consistently look for ways to incorporate new technology and best practices into creating systems that are efficient and long-lasting. Whether your existing system needs an upgrade or you are working on planning for a new one, contact us for help on your cooling tower project!