Vibration is a common problem in cooling towers and other types of mechanical or industrial equipment.
Cooling tower vibration limits?
Machines that require moving parts are built to withstand a specific limit of vibration without losing their reliability or performance. Issues occur when vibration exceed manufacturer limits, usually caused by abnormal situations.
Cooling towers use fans, drive-shafts, and motors which operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Vibration in cooling towers must be addressed quickly to avoid long shut down times, and avoid severely damaging major components in the cooling tower (due to the fact that the fans and cylinders are so close together).
There are many sources of cooling tower vibration:
- Unbalanced cooling tower fan blade
- Uneven pitch of fan blade
- Worn shaft, couplings, or drive-shaft inserts
- Worn mechanical equipment bearings (fan-shaft bearings, motor, gear reducer)
- Gear tolerances inadequate in gear boxes
- Gearbox is damaged
- Structural deterioration of mechanical equipment
- Worn belts in belt driven equipment
- Misalignment of mechanical equipment, pulleys/sheaves or drive-shafts
- Fasteners loose in mechanical equipment and its supporting structure
Can vibration damage your cooling towers?
Sustained period of vibration in cooling towers can cause severe damage, including damaging mechanical equipment (For example – fan cylinder being hit by fan blade tips, damaging both fan blades and cylinder) and impacting surrounding installations. In less common situations, vibrations in cooling towers can cause discomfort to people in the vicinity and the surrounding structures.
The best way to avoid abnormal vibration and mechanical failure is to install a vibration cut-off switch.
What is a vibration cut-off switch?
The cooling tower part/accessory will shut down the evaporative cooling equipment of cooling tower when vibration levels exceed manufacturer specification limits.
It is wise to test your vibration switches periodically to make sure they are operating properly. Another great practice is to install data loggers for your vibration switch, the data logger will help monitor the vibration and help you implement better preventative actions as needed.