Condenser Water Piping Seminar

Two of the insurance industry’s biggest risk groups are builder’s risk and professional liability for architects and engineers.  Both of these groups are involved in the design and installation of HVAC as well as process cooling equipment.  We recently attended a seminar on the design and installation of condenser water piping.  The condensers that are referred to are large pieces of equipment that are used in conjunction with cooling towers and large tonnage refrigeration machines.  A number of problems can arise if the piping is not considered correctly.  For example, the life of a water circulating pump can be reduced dramatically if the friction loss through the piping exceeds the capability of the pump.  In addition, it is possible to introduce air into the suction line of the pump if the tower bypass is not done properly.  The net result will be flow instability.  Freeze protection can be another problem if not considered carefully.  In some applications, water is drained from the tower when subfreezing temperatures are expected.  But, if for some reason, water stays in a part of the piping and then freezes, the result will be a burst water pipe.  If the failure is not detected prior to start-up, then a large amount of water will escape from the system and clean-up can be become very costly, in addition to the piping repair.  These are the kinds of problems for which claims are filed and lawsuits can result. 

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Legionaire’s Disease Makes a Comeback

Legionaire’s disease has been in the news recently and appears to be making a comeback of sorts.  Those old enough to remember will recall when a strange disease made its debut back in 1976 at an American  Legion convention held in Philadelphia.  Seems that several people attending the convention became ill and some died before the culprit was identified.  The culprit was a strain of bacteria that is water borne and thrives in cooling towers of large air conditioning systems.  With that said, there is no reason why Legionaire’s disease should be reappearing.  Since the initial outbreak, standards for water treatment in cooling towers have been revised, developed and implemented in order to minimize corrosion of the tower.  The standards also serve to as a guide on how to chemically treat water in order to prevent the formation of algae and mold as well as disease.  As a result, there is no excuse for building owners to allow their cooling towers to circulate untreated or poorly treated water that could potentially be a health hazard.  If left untreated and the Legionaire’s bacteria is allowed to grow, as the air and water that carries the bacteria enter a building’s fresh air inlet, it can circulate through the duct system.  Once the air and bacteria enter a space where people work, the bacteria can be inhaled and people infected.

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