Cooling Towers Part 1: Basic Concept

One of our devout readers suggested we toss together some posts about cooling tower basics, maintenance, and troubleshooting. My first thought was- Good idea! My second thought was, why didn’t I think of that?

Cooling towers are like air handlers and pumps; very simple, yet so critical, and so misunderstood.

Because of the terrible under appreciation and lack of respect people have for these quiet giants of our industry, we are dedicating the next two weeks to these machines we all take for granted.

In a nutshell; hot water from a water cooled machine’s condenser is pumped to the top of the tower where it falls down over a material we call “fill”.

A fan pulls outdoor air through the fill, cooling the water falling over it.

The cooled water runs off the fill material and into the tower sump where it is returned to the water cooled machine’s condenser.

don’t get too cocky, this was the easy part, the next few get harder.


Patrick is Zen HVAC’s diagnostic and training guy. Patrick started in the trade the day he left technical school and never looked back. He's served in various technical and training roles in the HVAC industry but specializes in system troubleshooting and diagnostics, retro commissioning, and technical training. His moto: If I can understand it, anybody can. Patrick uses the Zen common sense approach to teach Patrick’s Likes- His Wife, kids and dog. Old pickup trucks. Hiking. The industrial Revolution. Patrick’s Dislikes- Taking work too seriously. Anything unintuitive. Emoticons :( Patrick’s Favorite famous person- Theodore Roosevelt “I am only an average man, But I work harder at it than the average man" Famous Patrick Quote- “Well, that was stupid of me”

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2 comments on “Cooling Towers Part 1: Basic Concept
  1. 2. Hope to see more of your work soon.

  2. This was a super interesting read! I’ve heard the term cooling tower before, but I was unaware of the concept and how they actually worked. I’m definitely interested in learning more though. Thanks for explaining the basics!

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