Legionella Now And In A Post COVID World

legionnaires disease

No doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a heavy blow on every continent in the world. Lockdowns were immediately imposed, which led to the closure of shops, offices, industries, malls, schools, and commercial buildings. However, normalcy will be restored, and gradually people will return to these buildings that were once vacant.

To ensure a safe re-opening of offices and buildings, there is a dire need to carry out thorough preventive maintenance of these buildings cooling towers. This will prevent the possible outbreak of diseases like Legionella. Reports and studies from the CDC corroborate a likelihood of legionella bacteria growing in buildings left unoccupied or unused for a long time in both the potable water systems and HVAC systems and cooling towers. It is noteworthy that legionella bacteria grows in stagnant water bodies, which is the characteristic of water in an unused cooling tower.

This is a wake-up call to Facility managers and HVAC professionals to swing into action to eliminate the possible outbreak of legionella disease. As a start, an adequate legionella risk assessment must be carried out before re-opening any building, especially those with an installed cooling tower, to ensure that water and air quality are not compromised.

Legionella In A Post COVID World

According to an article published on ACS PUBLICATION, there is a considerable risk of legionella outbreak after the COVID-19 pandemic if adequate and appropriate measures are not put in place. New recommendations must be developed and implemented as post-COVID time sets to mitigate the risk of an outbreak. These acts will be similar to what was done after the H1N1 influenza pandemic.

These recommendations will enforce and ensure that no commercial building left unoccupied or unused during COVID is re-opened without proper and rigorous inspection. Besides, across much of the country, the winter season is gradually drawing the curtain. The warm season will set in soon. Remember that legionella bacteria love warm and stagnant unused water, particularly a feature of buildings with cooling towers during COVID.

The Latest Legionella Outbreak

The utmost need to take necessary precautions and appropriate legionella risk management measures cannot be over-emphasized. In Union County, New Jersey,  fourteen cases of legionella disease have been reported and confirmed with one death. Records showed that these cases were reported between February 3rd and February 26th.

In fact, the New Jersey Department of Health is currently investigating the outbreak’s source to prevent future occurrences. Currently, the department’s official, alongside local health workers, has identified some legionella bacteria sources and is working to neutralize and curb the growth and spread.

How To Protect Against Legionella

An unfortunate truth is that little to or no attention is paid to the maintenance of cooling towers and water treatment in them as long as they are functioning properly. For this reason and many more, Facility managers and HVAC professionals must take conscious preventive measures.

Stagnant Water

To prevent the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease within cooling towers, you should follow a few tips for cooling tower maintenance:

  •  Monthly inspection

It is essential to keep an eye on the water in cooling towers to check any irregularities such as scale, sediments, etc. Moreover, as we approach the warmer season, inspecting twice a month is advisable to be on the safe side and remain to rest assured of the water’s purity.

  •  Treat the Water

Water in cooling towers should be treated with a variety of antiscalant and antibacterials to manage the quality and risk of legionella and other bacterial growth. A variety of water treatment companies are available to tackle this important task on an ongoing basis. But water treatment alone is not enough. Constant maintenance and cleaning are required too.

  •  Removal of Stagnant Water

After a long period of not using a cooling tower, stagnant water should be flushed out totally and replaced with fresh water. Stagnant water might harbor legionella bacteria already without you knowing.

  •  Clean the Fill

We have learned that stagnant water can breed legionella bacteria; therefore, cleaning the fill to remove slime and scale in cooling towers must not be overlooked. Cleaning the fill allows for better flow and reduces the tendency of growth of mold and bacteria. Additionally, cleaning of tower basins is essential to remove food sources from bacteria and keep heat exchanger tubes clean.

  •  Proper Water temperature

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) provides several recommendations on how to prevent Legionnaires’ disease in cooling towers. Perhaps the most crucial piece of advice is to keep the temperature of the sump water below 68 degrees Fahrenheit at all times.

  •  Surface disinfection

Disinfection with an EPA registered antimicrobial product, labeled explicitly for HVAC use, should be used to clean surfaces of all HVAC systems and add-ons. This can help keep microorganisms from flourishing between cleaning cycles.

  •  Clean Basin Surfaces

Cleaning the basin of a cooling tower eliminates the places where harmful bacteria grow. Although basin cleaning can be a part of the monthly maintenance schedule, preventing the growth of Legionella requires a thorough basin cleaning at least once every two weeks.

 

Guides To Follow

Also see ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188-2018, Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems. Which clarifies compliance requirements, and is updated throughout with enforceable, code-intended language to facilitate the adoption of the standard for code and regulatory purposes.

When used in conjunction with Standard 188-2018, Guideline 12-2020 – Minimizing the Risk of Legionellosis Associated with Building Water Systems can provide prescriptive guidance for operators of water management systems to control legionellosis in building water systems.

Next Steps:

The CDC recently published a toolkit to reduce the growth and spread of Legionella bacteria.

Read more about preventing Legionella in Cooling Towers.

Discover our Cooling Tower Cleaning Solutions

Learn about Cooling Tower Fill Descaling

 

 

 

Best Practices For Boiler Cleaning

For many in the northern hemisphere, the end of the heating season is here. For facility managers, that means it’s time to look at annual maintenance and routine boiler tube cleaning. As a general rule, boilers should be cleaned and maintained at the end of each heating season to remain reliable and energy-efficient. Waiting too long can also leave little time if you identify any issues with combustion, sensors, or tube degradation.

Gone are the days of wasted labor hours using old tools to scrape scale and debris out of boiler tubes with manual rods and brushes. Modern fire tube cleaning systems are here to deliver faster, more straightforward, and better results.

Testing and Reading the Signs

Not all boilers are the same. Before deciding which solution is best for you, testing deposits and understanding your boiler’s level of “dirtiness” can help make the cleaning season run more smoothly. How often you should clean your boiler depends primarily on your system’s environmental conditions and specifically the fuel burned. This is particularly important in buildings that burn waste and garbage primarily. Still, burning other heavy fuels can present equally challenging cleaning environments.

Regularly testing your boiler’s efficiency is the best way to understand how often cleaning is needed. Testing can identify other problems including, incomplete combustion, improper firing ratios, and impingements on the flame, and more. Once testing is complete, preventive maintenance should be scheduled.

Additionally, depending on your type of boiler, make sure to look at the combustion side and the waterside. Deposits on the waterside can drastically reduce efficiency and be tackled simultaneously as combustion cleaning.

Knowing these factors can help identify the mechanical cleaning systems needed and whether should also be part of your overall maintenance plan.

 Signs to Look For:

■ One or more failures due to an under-deposit corrosion mechanism, particularly hydrogen damage. The first priority must be to prevent further damage by removing the deposits via a complete chemical cleaning.

■ Major contamination events or multiple small events, particularly tube leaks. Contamination events increase the amount of deposit in the boiler and its corrosiveness. Chemical cleaning removes the deposits and the contamination underneath the deposits before they corrode to failure.

■ Replacement of boiler tubing. The rule of thumb is to chemically clean if you are replacing more than 10% of the surface area of the boiler. This helps to create a uniform layer of oxide on all the tubes.

■ A major change in the boiler fuel or burner design. Changing fuels, such as from coal to gas, or modification of the burners can result in changes to the area of high heat flux in the boiler. When implementing such a major change, it is best to start with a clean boiler.

■ A change in the chemical treatment regime. Such changes would include moving from one chemical treatment to another, say from all-volatile treatment to oxygenated treatment (OT).

The Facts About Boiler Cleaning

According to a US Department of Energy study, a firetube boiler annually uses 450,000 million Btu (MMBtu) of fuel while operating for 8,000 hours at its rated capacity of 45,000 pounds per hour (lb/hr) of 150 pounds per square inch gauge (PSIG) steam. If scale 1/32nd of an inch thick is allowed to form on the boiler tubes, and the scale is of “normal” composition, the table indicates a fuel loss of 2%.The increase in operating costs, assuming energy is priced at $8.00 per million Btu ($8.00/MMBtu), is: Annual Operating Cost Increase = 450,000 MMBtu/yr x $8.00/MMBtu x 0.02 = $72,000

US Department of Energy

Efficiency loss of a boiler due to dirty boiler tubes

Determining How to Clean Your Boiler

So, you have done your testing and scheduling. The next steps are to determine the best solution for your system.

Mineral deposits or “scaling” can form on the boiler’s waterside, inhibiting water flow and heat transfer. Scale is removed through either mechanical or chemical cleaning methods. Mechanical cleaning removes scale with the use of tools like scrapers, brushes, or sandblasters. Chemical scale removal uses acids to dissolve the minerals through a chemical reaction between the scale and the liquid. The method used for cleaning, mechanical or chemical, differs depending on the thickness and type of deposits being removed.

The severity of fire tube corrosion and fouling is related to the fuel being burned. Natural gas, propane, and petroleum fuels like gasoline or No. 2 diesel fuel produce a light fouling removed by brushes without the need for heavy scrapers. Boilers burning wood, medical or municipal waste, and heavy petroleum fuels like No. 6 fuel oil often suffer from thick fouling that can only be removed by a powerful cleaning system with strong brushes and scraping tools.

Soot and corrosion from combustion can foul the fireside of boilers, causing tube wall temperature to get so hot that the tube itself weakens and can rupture. Fireside fouling can be mechanically removed with various methods; however, Goodway recommends using advanced technology.

Nylon brushes are best for light deposits. Steel spring brushes and brass brushes provide extra toughness for removing soot deposits in fire tube boilers. When you need just a little more soot-cleaning power than a brush can provide, an FTS tube scraper tool will get the job done. For the largest, heavily fouled fire tubes, nothing comes close to the cleaning strength of a rigid arm flare cone. See our brush basics infographic.

Choosing the correct boiler cleaning system is informed by the type of boiler you have, the severity and type of fouling to be removed, and system features like portability and power.

Get help choosing the best solution for your boiler cleaning, see this handy Boiler Cleaning Buying Guide.

Fire tube and water tube boilers need a routine maintenance and cleaning schedule and monitoring during service to operate effectively and without frequent breakdowns. Maintaining an operating log can help you identify when the system is operating at its most efficient and not. This can help identify the effective loss of efficiency, an increase in operating costs. As a maintenance professional, helping building owners and operators understand your hard maintenance work’s bottom-line impact can help them manage their buildings better – and maybe get you a nice bonus.

Next Steps:

Industrial Boiler Cleaning – Waterside and Fireside Solutions

Check out our Boiler Cleaning Buying Guide.

Subscribe to our blog to stay informed about the latest HVAC news and insight.

Utilize our in-house experts and allow them the opportunity to assess your specific equipment and determine what cleaning method will offer you the best results.

Ask about our customizable capabilities.

Learn more about Scale Build Up

 

 

Don’t Delay On Coil Cleaning Preventative Maintenance

Coil Cleaning

Preventative Maintenance

HVAC systems rely on cooperation between your evaporator and condenser coils working together to get their job done. Over time, these coils can become dirty, causing the system to lose efficiency by reducing the ability to exchange heat. This causes increased energy costs and reduces the life of HVAC systems. Both are costly. How do you stop this from happening? Preventative maintenance. One of the most important things to do is make sure you follow a good coil cleaning program as part of your overall preventive maintenance program.

Dirty Coils Waste Money

When your HVAC system is operating with dirty coils, it can use up to 37% more energy than if they were clean. [i] A coil that has been fouled up with dirt, grease, or grime cannot work as efficiently as it once did. What are the dirty coils symptoms you need to watch out for?

  •  High Head Pressure
  • High Compression Ratio
  • Compressor Overload
  • Tripping High-Pressure Switch
  • Low Capacity
  • Poor Efficiency
  • Coil Freezing
  • Compressor Damage Due to Liquid Flood Back

Do you want to reduce the chance of issues like this occurring? Make sure you implement coil cleaning as part of your regular maintenance program. Coil cleaning should occur consistently to ensure that there is no build-up or deterioration to the coils. Do it as often as you can, especially in dusty environments, but at a minimum in the Spring and Fall, or depending on the HVAC unit’s amount of use and location.

Lack of Maintenance Reduces Efficiency

When your system is not operating efficiently, your cooling capacity can go down by 30%. Just think of what that does to monthly energy bills.  Staying on top of your coil cleaning maintenance is the only way to ensure you are keeping your HVAC operating at maximum efficiency.

Do you know how to clean coils properly? The severity of the dirt on the coils will determine the cleaning method required; however, the easiest solution is to use a coil cleaning system. These products are specifically designed for cleaning coils. Simple match the system to the right coils. They are available for cleaning evaporator coils, condenser coils in rooftop units (RTU), air-cooled chillers and heat exchangers, air handling units (AHU), PTAC units, and more.

When using coil cleaning systems, it is essential to use a machine that provides just the right amount of PSI pressure to keep coils from becoming damaged. Smaller units require lower PSI and lower water volumes. In contrast, larger condenser coils may require higher pressures and water volumes up to 3.5 gallons per minute.

The Proof Preventative Maintenance Matters

You don’t have to take our word that good coil maintenance and cleaning matters. Experts have done their own research to explore how efficient an HVAC system can be with the proper maintenance. A study printed in the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE) Journal concluded that good maintenance and operation practices (including coil cleaning) could improve energy performance and indoor air quality performance.

Co-op City, a 300-acre complex with multiple establishments, and houses a total of 15,372 apartments (one of the largest New York undertakings) that are heated and cooled by convectors called Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners (PTACs). PTACs are the type of units you would find in hotel rooms. When asked how they were handling the 60,000 to 80,000 coils that make up the units, the answer was by “replacement.” When asked how they were handling the 60,000 to 80,000 coils that make up the units, the answer was by “replacement.” When a maintenance plan was introduced, the maintenance manager reported that they were doing 50% fewer replacements of the coils due to cleaning them without removing them. The Co-op City air quality was improved, and the efficiency in the units multiplied.

Westchester One houses five separate data rooms, all of which require significant amounts of cooling. Many of these server rooms operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year-and the HVAC must too. There are reports that the energy bills from Westchester One have reduced by thousands because they can use the whole coil for the operation now that they can properly clean them. One bill was even $20,000 below budget!

See the Proof with Your Own Eyes

If you have been looking for a way to make the HVAC at your home or business, run more efficiently, our coil cleaning solution to help you satisfy those needs. There is no longer a need to remove coils or replace them consistently when you can clean them and extend their lives (and the life of your unit).

You don’t have to take our word for it. Try it yourself and see just how much more efficient your system is and how much money you can save. When you begin your coil cleaning program, you will see in a short time just how much better your unit runs when you keep it clean and maintained. For help deciding what solution is best for you, check out our Coil Cleaning Buying Guide.

 

[i] https://www.sce.com/regulatory/energy-efficiency-filings/monthly-energy-efficiency-reports

[ii] https://www.sce.com/regulatory/energy-efficiency-filings/monthly-energy-efficiency-reports

 

NEXT STEPS:

Check out our Coil Cleaning Systems and Chemicals

Download our Coil Cleaning Pro Guide

Read Buying a Coil Cleaning System? Avoid these Five Mistakes

Discover our Coil Cleaner Buying Guide

 

 

Surface Disinfection: Alcohol-Based or Water-Based?

BIOSPRAY Surface Disinfectant

If there was one thing everyone was talking about in 2020, it was surface disinfection. From the moment the novel coronavirus made its first appearance, surface sanitizing was a top of mind for almost every industry. You may be shocked to hear that more than 600,000 bacteria live on one square inch of human skin[i]. For humans, most bacteria are harmless. But species that cause diseases, called pathogens, may be harmful or even fatal.

For the average consumer, any sanitizer they could get their hands on seemed sufficient to clean and disinfect. For others with specific applications, the need for an efficient, safe, and cost-effective way to keep employees and visitors safe requires specialized solutions. This may include being safe for food contact-surfaces, quick-drying due to sensitive electronics areas, or many other reasons.

While many conversations have shifted from surface sanitation and disinfection to air purification, the reality is that surface cleaning and disinfection is still crucial. Ongoing maintenance of healthy workplaces and production environments requires surface sanitation and disinfection solutions.

Most sanitizers fall into one of two categories: water-based or alcohol-based. Alcohol-based sanitizers and disinfectants work best in specific environments. High traffic locations, sensitive electronics, healthcare or critical care environments, and anywhere quick-drying action is required. Water-based sanitizers and disinfectants work best for general

disinfection needs when surfaces can remain wet for up to 10 minutes.

Water-Based Sanitizers

If your applications are less time-sensitive, then a more affordable water-based solution might be better suited. More often than not, water-based sanitizers have longer “kill” claim times and require surfaces to remain wet for extended periods.

In addition to the protection against disease, water-based sanitizers can offer many benefits to users, including safe for use on food contact surfaces, HVAC system components, etc. These disinfectants can also be applied using portable disinfectant sprayers or chemical fogging systems. Water-based sanitizers are perfect for location when dwell times can be longer.

When to Use Water-Base Sanitizers

Water-Based sanitizers are best for general surfaces and those environments where surfaces can remain wet. Refer to the product label for specific information on application rates and approved applications.

Alcohol-Based Sanitizers

There are a variety of alcohol-based sanitizers on the market today – and thanks to COVID-19, the number of products to choose from can be overwhelming.

Alcohol-based sanitizers and disinfectants are very potent and can quickly reduce the number of active microbes or viruses on a surface. They dry quickly, offer excellent sanitation and disinfection properties, and are generally safe on sensitive electronic surfaces like scales, machinery, computers, kiosks, and more. Also, high traffic areas that may require quick drying disinfectants like door handles, security panels, and more.

They have been used to clean and disinfect surfaces everywhere, from large, public office buildings to hospitals to restaurants. Alcohol-based disinfectants are also the product of choice within the healthcare, dental, veterinary, and ambulatory environments due to their high efficacy and quick-drying characteristics.

When to Use Alcohol-Base Sanitizers

Simply put, you can use alcohol-based sanitizers in virtually every setting. Organizations like the CDC, FDA, and WHO all encourage using alcohol-based sanitizers to clean all manner of surfaces. In fact, alcohol is still the most-used type of disinfectant in today’s hospitals.

If you’re going to use alcohol to clean your office or other space, it is essential to make sure you’re using a solution appropriate for the application. Refer to the product labels for specific application environments and rates. Food production environments should be careful to use products approved for use in food-contact environments. In contrast, healthcare environments should focus on disinfection efficacy. Office, educational, and other general settings can utilize a variety of choices in alcohol-based disinfectants.

This could all feel very intimidating, but luckily we have just the solution. Check out our Sanitation & Disinfection Buying Guide to find which one will be your perfect solution.

 

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE GUIDE

[i] Science Clarified. “We Are Surrounded.” Scienceclarified.com. http://www.scienceclarified.com/scitech/Bacteria-and-Viruses/We-Are-Surrounded.html

The Final Step: Sanitizing In Food Manufacturing

In the food manufacturing industry, food safety and quality is everything. Not only is it part of good manufacturing practices (GMP), but it’s the law. Food and beverage plants work with countless ingredients that can cause public health hazards, from microorganisms hiding in ingredient materials to allergens that cross-contaminate products during packaging processes. Microorganisms and other bacteria can even degrade the shelf life of some foods, creating an inferior product that can hurt your company as a whole.

So how do you prevent cross-contamination and unsafe pathogens or undeclared allergens from entering your food? The final step – sanitation. Food must be produced under sanitary conditions in order to be safe, and manufacturers must ensure sanitation is carried out consistently & effectively.

Risks in Food Manufacturing

The USDA requires all food manufacturing plants to meet a certain standard of cleanliness, which includes proper hygiene and regular sanitizing. Of course, there is a good reason for these regulations: these plants are preparing food for millions of Americans, and one mistake can make many people sick.

Some of the most common risks in the food manufacturing industry (many of which can be prevented with proper sanitation) include the following

Foodborne Illness

Earlier in 2020, the CDC reported 101 cases of salmonella across 17 states. They determined that the cause was contaminated peaches, which had been sold to grocers across the nation.

Regrettably, this story is rather common across the industry and it demonstrates the far reach that a single plant’s sanitation habits can have. Because one packing plant in California failed to properly sanitize their facility, their product became contaminated, and people got sick.

Cross-Contamination

According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), an estimated 32 million Americans have some sort of food allergy. These allergies range in type and severity, from a mild rash or itchiness to life-threatening anaphylaxis. Because of this, individuals with allergies must be very careful when choosing foods to buy from the local grocery store — and they need to know with certainty that the things they’re eating don’t contain the ingredient they’re allergic to.

Today’s food manufacturing facilities process thousands of products every day. Some plants process a variety of different foods, which means that it’s always possible for some cross-contamination between ingredients. However, it’s easy to avoid this risk with thorough and diligent sanitization practices and GMP’s.

Shelf Instability

Perishable foods like meats, produce, and dairy products already have a limited shelf life — but if they are contaminated by hidden microorganisms or other bacteria, they can become inedible even faster. This is a big problem for food manufacturers, as it can impact product quality and eventually degrade your brand value.

Food that goes bad on the shelf is more likely to contribute to foodborne illness — bringing us right back to our first and most common risk. Clearly, it is essential to maintain high cleaning and sanitation standards throughout any food manufacturing plant, and companies must hold sanitization as a top priority.

Cleaning vs. Sanitizing

The USDA considers proper cleaning and sanitization a prerequisite to the industry’s hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP). Without thorough and consistent cleaning and sanitation, a facility cannot provide safe products to the consumer. Both of these practices are essential — and contrary to what some believe, they are not interchangeable.

What is the difference between cleaning and sanitizing? “Cleaning” refers to the process of removing soil from a surface. This is necessary to have a clean work environment, which can help slow the spread of bacteria or even viruses (which is even more important in the post-COVID work environment.

However, while cleaning removes soils, it doesn’t remove what cannot be seen with the human eye — microorganisms – nor does it kill them. This is why facilities must also practice proper sanitizing. “Sanitizing” is the final step of any cleaning process, and it helps kill off any microorganisms that are still lingering on any surface.

If a food manufacturing plant wants to prevent contamination (and they all do), it is absolutely essential to practice effective sanitizing. This means sanitizing surfaces more often and having the right tools at your disposal for an efficient and complete sanitation process.

The Solution

Sanitation should always be the final step in your plant sanitizing procedure, but that doesn’t mean you can do it halfway. In fact, food manufacturing companies need to be more fastidious about sanitizing than ever before! They need to have the right tools to eliminate microorganisms — and that means embracing alcohol-based sanitizers.

Alcohol-based sanitizing solutions have antiseptic properties that kill germs quickly and more effectively than plain water or alcohol-free solutions. Using an alcohol sanitizer in your cleaning protocol is one of the best ways to ensure a bacteria-free surface.

Find Your Perfect Solution:

But, of course, you can’t simply pick up a bottle of alcohol sanitizer from the drug store. Cleaning Food and Beverage plants requires a more careful approach and specific products. Look for products that are EPA registered food contact sanitations sprays; these require no wiping to effectively sanitize surfaces. Not only will this guarantee that your sanitation is food safe, but it also will cut down your cleaning time, giving you a safe, dry, and sanitary surface faster than other brands. If you use a sanitization system that utilizes a food-safe, quick-drying solution, your sanitation routine can become a quick and painless process that you can easily do each day.

The food manufacturing industry has a great responsibility to provide safe food products to people all over this country. And if you work in one of these facilities, it is up to you to maintain a high standard of cleanliness and sanitation. Not only is the reputation of your brand at risk, but the health and safety of the people who eat your food — sometimes, their very lives — are in your hands.

But if you have the right tools and the right sanitizing solutions, you can ensure clean work stations and safe products every time.

 

 

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