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When Can a Commercial & Industrial Water Softener System Installation Solve Cooling Tower Issues?

Ben Feeney, Chemical Engineer

Water Softener Services

Considering a commercial water-softening system or wondering if you need one? Here's a quick example of how a new water softener solved an ongoing problem with a client's cooling tower and HVAC system.

The Water Treatment Challenge

Our client experienced severe issues pertaining to mineral deposits on their condenser tubes and cooling tower. The cooling tower is located near a loading dock alley just below ground level. This created a natural wind tunnel that caused sand, silt, and debris to get sucked into the tower. To make matters worse, the city water going into the cooling tower is high in calcium and other minerals. This all amounts to havoc on the HVAC equipment as the debris migrates into the system piping - not good!

When our team went in for the annual cleaning process, buckets of mineral deposits had to be removed. The traditional chemical treatment proved ineffective against the calcium due to the volume of debris trapped in the system. The "dirt load" was too much for chemicals alone to overcome. To effectively clean out the chillers, a chemical process using acid was needed. This process is not only expensive, but it can also damage the copper tubes if not done correctly.

The Solution: A Commercial Water Softener System

Our Water Technologies Team at Boland put together a plan to install a large water softener on the cooling tower system to remove calcium and magnesium. The water softener sizing was determined using the customer's expected annual water usage and the city's water hardness.

A water softener uses a mineral tank containing polystyrene resin beads that carry a negative charge. Calcium and magnesium in water both carry positive charges. This means the minerals will cling to the beads as the hard water passes through the mineral tank. A backwash and flushing process then moves the minerals to a drain, while the (salt) brine tank regenerates the positive charge on the resin beads. The cycle continues from there.

Water Softening System Installation

The Results and Impact

After a few months of operation, the calcium and mineral buildup level in the system diminished greatly. Lowering the hardness allowed longer time between cooling tower water cycles, which meant less frequent bleed-off to the drain and less makeup water needed. The old system would drain and add makeup water continuously. We project an approximate 40% makeup and 50% sewer water savings this year after we completed the water softener installation. In addition to the water savings, fewer chemicals are needed to keep the bacteria under control.

The addition of a water softener by knowledgeable professionals can be a game changer when applied strategically. If this story sounds familiar to you or you feel your water treatment is not performing to standard, contact us for a consultation with one of our water treatment specialists at (240) 306-300,, or by completing the form below.

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