Honest Solutions for Water Concerns
News of the industry and inflation- a concern for all who purchase water treatment services
There has been a dangerous trend, because of strong competitive financial pressures in the water treatment industry, to reduce quality to the point where many companies are simply not providing good protection for HVAC systems. Much of this has been driven by frequent buyouts of the parent company who then are forced to reduce quality to satisfy the stock holders need for ever increasing profits. Companies have reacted by decimating their back of house staff, including technical departments. Even worse, most require their sales staff to maintain 70-80 % profit margins on their accounts. With the tremendous, recent, run up of costs, it is impossible to satisfy the corporate greed while trying to satisfy the client. Few salesmen can standup to the pressure when their salaries are on the line. You are at a disadvantage when buying water treatment. It is impossible for you to know the difference between system longevity, maintenance and operating costs and treatment costs. Simply seeing if the tubes are clean is not enough, but amazingly, some companies charge extra to make sure that the tubes are clean and for the now very expensive copper corrosion inhibitor (tolyltriazole), which is consumed by their heavy reliance on oxidizing biocides.
In January, I was told by the Director of Engineering of one of the largest, grand old hotels, that his multibillion dollar water treatment supplier (GE/B) has sold him a new, acid based, product that when circulated in his condenser water system, yields a great increase in efficiency. He is a very smart guy and knows that something is rotten. We discussed the fact that two of his machines are new and have high efficiency tubes which means that they are thin walled to begin with. Any heavy duty cleaning will just make them thinner. (A detergent cleaning for the whole system is good but that is not what this was. This was just to correct for fouled tubes). Equally upsetting, while working on a project as a Legionnaires Disease consultant for a very large Hospital in Brooklyn where there was a series of deaths attributed to Legionnaires Disease by the NY State Department of Health and that had a water treatment contract of over $85,000.00/yr., I discovered that they had no treatment in most of their systems for the last two year's. I also visited a hotel that was part of a huge chain. It had a 6000 ton chiller plant. It too was being serviced by one of the multinational chemical providers (N) and, it too had very poor water treatment. I wasn’t surprised having just visited a series of large multifamily buildings for another owner and found the same vendor providing poor quality water treatment there.
In July, I visited several multifamily houses where the vendor (co. C) was using a single pump to feed phosphate. Phosphate is a weak corrosion inhibitor for steel but will not protect copper or brass. NYC adds phosphate to the drinking water to reduce the amount of lead leaching from plumbing fixtures. In a cooling tower you cannot differentiate between city phosphate or vendor treatment. Perhaps that’s why they provided only a 2 pound pail ! No biocides, no dispersants, no corporate responsibility. No wonder why they are cheap. This program is as good as any… from fifty years ago.
The old logic of single source responsibility for large multi-property real estate owners and managers no longer works in our business. In November I was involved in a study where a company (M) ruined the tubes in a five year old boiler. Obviously, they forgot to add treatment. More recently, I was asked by the developer of a new 520 unit, multifamily building to inspect the program that the same company furnished to the mechanical contractor. We found that the program provided was not in accordance with the engineers specification; they omitted or reduced the quality and ratings of both the equipment and the treatment program. One of the items they reduced was the size of the specified makeup water meter. This would have resulted in the air-conditioning system starving for makeup water in the summer. Not only would the system not worked during the hottest months but it is possible that the circulation pumps would have burnt out. They don’t work well when they are pumping air! All this to save a few hundred dollars.
A major supplier of cooling towers- company (E) - builds a good cooling tower but they are now using weird science to sell a “NEW”, computerized, non chemical device to make their product stand out in the marketplace. It has a nice display of flashing lights. How desperate they must be! They will warranty the device for three years but the tower and the rest of the system won’t last much more than that and that is only if the end user is lucky.
No one should be surprised - corporate corruption has never gotten more bad press then in recent years.
For many years we have tried to hold our costs down. Most of our clients will discover that our increases have been lower than inflation. This can no longer continue and allow us to continue to provide the highest quality products! Inflation is here! Copper, gas, and milk prices are ridiculous! Our long time drum supplier increased his charges 65% in the last year! Molybdate, the major weapon against pitting in cooling tower systems has gone from $2.00/lb in 1992 to $26.00/lb. in 2006. It has come down but has stabilized at what are close to historically high prices. Three years ago, twenty three percent of our cooling tower inhibitor was “moly”. We have reduced it, but it still costs far more then in the part to keep this very important ingredient in our formula. “Moly” is the major tool to reduce pitting corrosion in older or stressed systems. Pitting corrosion is the most viscous type and will cause premature pipe failure. Many of our competitors have abandoned its use but the other (non moly) programs are not nearly as good as our WATERITE 2008 moly/ polymer system. A stronger reliance on less expensive, corrosive, oxidizing type biocides has only made the problem worse. Having been a consultant for almost $120,000,000.00 of corrosion related lawsuits in the last five years; we know what we are talking about!
Add recent huge cost increases for medical insurance, gasoline and parking tickets for our service vans and you will only touch the surface of some of the industry cost burdens. It is unlikely, because of expanding consumption in China, India and many other parts of the world that oil or metal prices will continue to decline. As soon as the economy starts to recover they will go crazy again and we are going to have to adjust to this. One business report forecast gasoline prices reaching $5.00 per gallon in the next few years! In addition to the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs, this appears to be another one of the ‘benefits’ of free trade. The industry we are in is often referred to as the petro-chemical industry because chemicals and oil are so closely related. As the price of oil fluctuates, so do the price of chemicals.
Tell us what your concern is; cost or corrosion, and we can tailor a program for you. Since these systems are often the most expensive and critical part of your structure it is time to become more involved. As you are aware, all new HVAC equipment is designed to provide increased energy savings. What the manufacturers and design engineers forgot to tell you is that the design and material changes of these systems require that you upgrade your treatment and control systems. The survival of these critical systems demands it. The reasons are too complicated to discuss here but for additional information please contact (us or have your engineering staff contact us) and we would be pleased to explain. For those that have new high efficiency chillers, this is an urgent situation if you are using one of the inferior programs. (see www.awt.org for information on enhanced tubes) Our chemical programs are the best in the market and to reduce the quality of them will reduce the useful lifetime of your equipment. Unfortunately, this is difficult, or impossible for you to evaluate but realizethat no corrosion control system is perfect and all methods of corrosion control just reduce corrosion in varying degrees. Studies have demonstrated that for every $10.00 ‘saved’ by a reduction of preventative maintenance $100.00 will be spent for corrections.
As corrosion consultants for many major firms, our sister company, Associated Environmental Technologies, Inc. has documented a tremendous variation in corrosion control systems. Our testing has documented equipment failures in as little as three years but we have observed piping failures in less than six months. MEP Consulting Engineers can tell you many, many, horror stories of premature system failure but Worldwide’s clients won’t. The only time we have problems is because of low flow or stagnant conditions and our client’s are advised of these concerns whenever they are discovered. Our programs work because we don’t have to satisfy the stockholders and don’t have the corporate overhead of the huge stockholder owned companies. Most importantly, they work because I stand behind them. Enjoy the benefits of dealing with a local business. Spend and invest in local business and keep jobs here.
For additional information, please contact me. Our solutions work!