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Importance of Water Treatment

Water treatment is critical preventative maintenance for cooling towers, steam boilers, and closed loop systems. Failure to properly maintain your treated water systems and implement the water treatment program recommendations can result in serious problems that impact system life, efficiency, reliability, and safe operation, and may cause unexpected failure.


Water Treatment is a Partnership

Periodic service visits by your Chem-Aqua Representative to test the water, check inventory levels, and review the operation of the treated systems are an integral component of a treatment program. Routine monitoring by site personnel is also important to identify and communicate issues that develop between service visits. This partnership is essential even where automated feed and control equipment is installed.


Although water treaters are recognized as Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers to perform necessary work at critical infrastructure facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, previously routine service visits may be difficult to schedule due to site access restrictions and other challenges. This makes site personnel involvement more important than ever to help monitor the treatment program and minimize problems. 

Site Monitoring Guidelines

The following guidelines were prepared to assist plant personnel in monitoring their water treatment programs between site service visits and communicating changes that impact program implementation and results. They are not intended to replace any more specific monitoring and testing program that may be in place.


1. Communicate Changes in Site Access Protocols

  • It is important to promptly communicate any changes in site access protocols that may impact the ability to provide site service visits or have chemical shipments delivered (e.g., new screening procedures, PPE requirements, receiving hours, etc.)

2. Communicate Changes in Plant or System Operation Such as Shutdowns or Startup

  • Ideally, facility heating and cooling water systems should be kept operations with treatment protocols in place to address operation under low load or standby conditions.
  • Where facilities or systems may be shut down, specific procedures are required to help protect offline equipment.
  • Specific start up procedures may also be necessary. For example, cooling tower systems should be disinfected prior to startup to reduce the potential for health risks related to Legionella and Legionnaires' disease.

3. Monitor Chemical Inventory Levels in Drums or Tanks

  • If inventory levels appear low, note the inventory level of all chemicals and notify your Chem-Aqua representative to reorder.
  • Where necessary, install new drum or container, and check to ensure chemical pump is primed. Always wear required PPE.

4. Verify Chemical Feed Pumps are Primed

  • Periodically monitor chemical feed pumps while activated and inspect for leaks. If discharge tubing jumps or pulsates, the pump is primed. If the tubing does not pulsate, then re-prime pump.

5. Cooling Tower System Monitoring Guidelines

  • Monitor water treatment controller readings.
    • Check controller readings and note any alarms. Verify readings are within service report control ranges.
  • Visually inspect cooling tower and heat exchanger equipment.
    • With cooling tower fans off and recirculating pumps off, inspect cooling tower for visible slime, algae below the water line, dirty foam, and excessive buildup of sediment.
  • Monitor chiller and heat exchange equipment readings for signs of heat transfer loss such as high approach temperatures.
  • Communicate any out of range readings or other indications of potential problems for follow-up recommendations.

6. Closed Loop System (Chilled, Hot Water, Process) Monitoring Guidelines

  • Observer the color, turbidity, and odor of the system water
    • Rusty or turbid water may indicate corrosion problems while odors may indicate microbiological problems.
    • Monitor and change filter cartridges or bags at recommended intervals.
  • Monitor for excessive water losses by logging makeup water meter (where available) or conductivity readings.
  • Communicate any out of range readings or other indications of potential problems for followup recommendations.

7. Steam Boiler System Monitoring Guidelines

  • Strictly follow established procedures for boiler blowdown and verifying the operation low water cut off devices.
  • Check operation of water softeners
    • Check salt level in brine tank and add additional salt as necessary
    • Check Total Hardness to verify producing soft (<1 ppm) water. If not soft, regenerate immediately and then restart.
    • Softener problems should be immediately communicated and addresses to avoid boiler damage.
  • Monitor water treatment controller readings.
    • Check controller readings and note any alarms. Verify readings are within service report control range.
  • Monitor feedwater and boiler water clarity in sight glasses. Cloudiness or a rusty color may indicate problems.
  • Communicate any out of range readings or other indications of potential problems for follow up recommendations.

8. On-Site Water Testing Program

  • An on-site testing program is recommended to confirm key test parameters are being maintained between site service visits. Your Chem-Aqua Representative will be glad to provide specific testing recommendations for your systems.

9. Collect Water Samples for Off-Site Water Analysis

  • Where access restrictions limit site service visits by your Chem-Aqua Representative, having site personnel collect water samples to be picked up outside the facility (for example, on the loading dock) for off-site analysis may be a good option.

Any potential problems or questions should be promptly communicated to your Chem-Aqua Representative for follow up recommendations.


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