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SERVICE AND MAINTENANCE


Vital and vulnerable


Water, so essential to our HVAC systems, comes with its own set of problems. A home for bacteria, if it is not managed properly, system fouling and corrosion can take hold. This ‘management’ usually involves volumes of chemicals and wastage of the water itself, with flushing commonly used during pre-commissioning cleaning and after essential maintenance. Steven Booth, managing director for Guardian Water Treatment, looks at the ways water’s problems can be combatted while reducing dosing and flushing requirements.


F or water reliant cooling systems, keeping H2 0 clean and


bacteria-free is essential to preventing system fouling and corrosion. If left unchecked, corrosion can lead to major breakdown – and losses of millions of pounds in large commercial buildings. Where the cooling is open, as is the case in many cooling towers, human health is at risk, with these systems often at the heart of Legionnaires’ disease. Preventing breakdown and keeping people safe is obviously the priority, leading to treatment practices that don’t score highly from a sustainability point of view. Flushing, for example, an essential part of the pre- commissioning cleaning process, is one of the most water wasting activities in a building’s construction. Also used following maintenance or changes to a systems design, over-flushing itself can lead to corrosion, weakening pipework. The same is true of chemicals, used during flushing and as part of general dosing regimes to keep bacteria under control.


To reduce our reliance on these practices, the way we approach water system management has to change, with a focus on prevention rather than having to deal with problems that could have been avoided.


Closed circuit cooling


In a closed circuit HVAC system, bacteria does not pose a risk to human health so the focus is on ensuring efficiency, minimising corrosion and preventing breakdown. To understand water system condition, at the moment, the majority of the industry relies on sampling – a process with a number of problems. Sampling provides only a snap shot in time – the results take days if not weeks to return, by which time system conditions


28 May 2019


may have changed – and focuses primarily on bacteria, which while an indicator of potential issues, should not be the sole cause for concern.


Importantly, sampling does not effectively detect for dissolved oxygen, the pre-cursor to most corrosion issues, including bacteria. Where sampling does identify a problem, flushing and chemicals are usually the go-to response, rather than exploring why the conditions are poor and fixing whatever it is that has led to the issue in the first place.


A quick note about flushing – it cannot be avoided altogether, especially during pre-commissioning cleaning. To reduce flushing volumes without compromising its effectiveness, there are high flow filtration solutions,


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