4 Common Cooling Tower Problems

Good cooling water system maintenance means good business. Good maintenance affects the efficiency, reliability and operating costs of any organizational or industrial cooling water systems. However, no matter how well-maintained your system is, problems will still exist. There could be many potential issues and problems that your water cooling system may experience, but scaling, corrosion, fouling, and microbial contamination are the four common problems that you will encounter at some point in time. There are a lot of ways to identify these problems. The International Cooling Tower Maintenance and Auditing, for instance, provide you the report. However, it is also helpful if you can identify these in one look. 

The following are the four common problems that industry experiences in their water cooling system/ towers.  

Scale build-up 

Scale development is one of the most common among the four. This scale is oftentimes developed by accumulated inorganic mineral compounds that are found in the water like magnesium silicate, calcium phosphate, and iron oxide. When these minerals scale-up and accumulate, they affect the performance of the heat transference. Worse, when they are left untreated, they can cause huge energy costs. This is because more energy is required to operate your cooling water system due to the scale-up. Scaling also causes complete replacement of your equipment. So, make sure there is regular maintenance to avoid this. 

Biological contamination 

Of course, your tower treats heated water, and this means a hot and humid environment. A hot, humid environment combined with the water’s nutrients coming from different water sources is a potential breeding environment that induces unwanted growth of biological contaminants like bacteria. These bacteria build-up can significantly affect your tower’s performance negatively. These contaminants are not just harmful to humans but they also harm the thermal efficiency of your equipment, in the form of biofilm. 


Fouling is a term to describe the clogging of cooling surfaces or pipes with dirt and debris that have been accumulated over time. This can happen in different areas of your cooling water system, especially the fill. When the water cannot pass through the fill and experiences difficult obstruction, the system may need to work harder to function as it is designed to. Worse, if left untreated, the system may not work as efficiently as before. 


Corrosion is probably common to all types of materials, including your water cooling equipment. Corrosion is a normal phenomenon that could happen in your equipment due to the organic and inorganic minerals in the water, the contaminants, bacteria, etc., and the changing weather your equipment is exposed to. Aside from this, there are two factors that can worsen corrosion. First, non-quality material used in the equipment. While corrosion is normal, it becomes twice faster than materials that are not durable. So, make sure that you choose tower elements that are resistant to corrosion like the Fibre-reinforced plastic. Second, the chemicals used for water treatment. Water treatment is sometimes necessary to remove contaminants that are also harmful to your equipment’s efficiency. However, consistent exposure to these chemicals potentially affects your tower elements.  

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