Maintaining Comfort and Efficiency: A Guide to HVAC Water Treatment for Condominiums
Water covers 71% of our Earth’s surface, but did you know that only 10% of that water is drinkable, and in short supply? Water is the Earth’s most valuable natural resource, and a necessary component of our survival as a species.
In the modern world, improving our savings and sustainability of water is more imperative than ever. As water treatment professionals, one of the main methods we use to reduce operating costs and improve water sustainability is by keeping HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) heat transfer equipment water systems clean.
The water used in most HVAC systems, like the water we drink, comes from ground sources (wells and aquifers) or surface sources (lakes and bodies of water). Depending on the source and quality of the water, calcium, magnesium, and other impurities in the water can precipitate and adhere to HVAC heat transfer surfaces. These deposits create an insulating barrier decreasing the ability for heat to transfer, resulting in significantly higher energy costs.
As an analogy, think of your household tea kettle. At the bottom of the kettle is an electric heating element used to boil the water. As the lifespan of the kettles goes by, the water will take longer to boil, as a white calcium scale residue forms at the bottom of the heating element, preventing efficient and fast boiling. In certain high-rise condominium buildings, equipment such as chillers, heat exchangers, or heat pump systems with cooling towers may be used to provide air conditioning. This equipment is used to remove heat from the chilled water through a process of evaporation. The inefficiencies of mineral deposit buildup can not be underestimated - 1/8th of an inch of calcium scale formation on the heat transfer equipment will result in up to a 25% increase in energy costs to run the HVAC equipment. When examining the big picture, water treatment costs to prevent mineral deposits and corrosion are minimal compared to the increased costs of heat transfer equipment as a result of these inefficiencies.
Another simple recommendation for condominium owners, directors, and managers, is to regularly inspect faucets, toilets, and HVAC water systems for leaks, and to have any issues repaired promptly, as any damage can drastically increase water costs. The costs of broken and/or leaky equipment can be drastic. A faucet with a common leak of 1 drip per second equates to 65L of wasted water per day, and 23,725L per year - damaging not only to the environment but one’s wallet as well. Furthermore, a simple toilet with a broken float results in hundreds of dollars in surplus monthly water costs. The HVAC water systems and water treatment programs are set up to reuse and recycle water as much as possible, reducing costs and waste, especially when compared
to scaling up heat transfer surfaces to accommodate the mineral deposit inefficiencies.
If your condominium has a water treatment provider stopping by, they should be testing the HVAC systems to ensure the water is properly balanced. Just like a swimming pool, the control of bacteria levels also important in HVAC water systems. High bacteria levels can cause fouling in heat transfer equipment and water systems open to the atmosphere like cooling towers and water fountains run the risk of developing harmful bacteria such as legionella.
Legionnaires' disease is a serious type of pneumonia (lung infection) that can be fatal which is caused by breathing in very small water droplets containing legionella bacteria. your water treatment professional is to provide you immediate action plans if your water is deemed “out of spec”, to prevent water wastage, increased costs, and/or bacteria concerns.
The purpose of this article was to provide you with some understanding and awareness as to the importance of proper water treatment. Water is our Earth’s most precious resource, reducing operating costs by ensuring efficient HVAC equipment and water usage in condominiums doesn’t just save money, it saves the planet too.