With many large buildings—such as malls, sporting venues, concert halls and more—inactive due to the coronavirus, some systems inside those buildings are running on different schedules, or not at all, potentially causing problems. Many companies did not have plans of action in place in the case of a pandemic or other emergency.
Scott Bryan, technical sales manager for water treatment at Cortec, answered questions from Pumps & Systems on the problems associated and how to solve them.
Pumps & Systems: Generally, what has been done to the pumps and systems for major buildings such as malls now that they could be empty?
Bryan: Because these types of buildings never experience facility-wide shutdown for an extended period of time, it is very likely that there was no preservation plan and systems were just shut down. There are layup alternatives for boiler and cooling water systems that could have been recommended by a facility’s water treatment company or mechanical contractor for the boilers, such as the use of a desiccant, but again, highly unlikely any beyond the preserving the boiler was done.
P&S: Besides a shopping mall, what other types of buildings are subjected to this?
Bryan: We have seen large office buildings, hotels, universities, school districts all being shut down for an extended period of time.
P&S: What hazards would this bring?
Bryan: Our focus with a Preservation Plan is primarily in minimizing corrosion during this period the facility is not running. Failing to have an adequate program will lead to startup issues related to corrosion in the water, steam and condensate systems. In addition, simply shutting down a system and leaving [it] full of water can also lead to other concerns beyond corrosion, such as microbial growth in water systems that would create both health concerns as well as corrosion issues.
P&S: What are the best ways to ensure effective ways of preservation for equipment?
Bryan: By developing a Preservation Plan, the decision to implement a Wet Layup or a Dry Layup can be made based upon the individual factors related to each facility. Cortec is involved with many such Preservation Plans to help the customer better understand their options.
P&S: What safety practices must be ensured while doing that?
Bryan: Besides following normal shutdown procedures, Cortec products are relatively safe to handle and use in their various applications. Normal PPE is recommended such safety glasses and gloves when directly handling the products. The added benefit of the Cortec products used to protect during an extended outage is that the product does not have to be removed prior to starting the system back up. This saves time and disposal issues normally involved with alternative methods of preservation.