Hibernation of Mechanical Plant: COVID-19

We have been receiving queries regarding maintenance over the next few months with some organisations considering placing their mechanical plant into hibernation.

Shutdown & Future Start-up – Cooling Towers

We understand that many operations are currently closed or continuing at low load. This raises the question as to water treatment and maintenance of mechanical plant. There are several factors to consider before shutting down mechanical plant for more than 24 hours.

Considerations as to whether mechanical plant should be shutdown for more than 24 hours:

  • Whether the plant can be fully drained and kept dry
  • Stagnant water risks associated with corrosion
  • Stagnant water risks associated with Legionnaires’ disease
  • Potential for pumps and mechanical plant to seize if not operating

Considerations regarding future start-up:

  • If there has been any stagnant water, there is a high risk of proliferation of Legionella throughout the system and/or the surrounding environment
  • Regulatory and AS 3666 requirements for cooling tower clean prior to start-up
  • Potential tower cleaning labour shortages if all cooling tower owners are starting up at the same time
  • Potential mechanical contractor labour shortages

In most circumstances, the preference will be to keep the plant ‘ticking over’ for 1-2 hours per day (hibernation), so that plant and equipment is not damaged, and start-up can be instigated quickly. The risks associated with draining down and refilling are detailed above.

If you are considering hibernation of plant and equipment, please speak to your HydroChem account manager about the best way to achieve this outcome. There may be some actions required by your service technician to accommodate this process.

Shutdown & Future Start-up – Closed Loops

Chilled, closed condenser loops, and heating hot water systems should remain full and circulated at least once a week. These systems should be continue to be serviced at least once a quarter to confirm adequate levels of corrosion inhibitors.

Technical Advice Bulletin

You can download our Technical Advice Bulletin on this topic: TAB – Hibernation of Mechanical Plant_2 April 2020

We Continue to Operate

In our role preventing outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease, we continue to operate as an essential service provider. We have been given reassurances for the respective State health departments that we will be continuing operations throughout implementation of any further restrictions (although we appreciate the situation may change).

If you have any queries, please speak to your account manager or call our office on 1300 558 788.