The Importance of Cooling Tower Upkeep

Cooling towers feature a fan on top, air vents on the side, and piping entering near the top and exiting the bottom. There are city requirements from the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene (DOHMH), as well as state requirements from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on how they must be handled and maintained.


All towers must be registered with the DOB. If they haven’t been registered, they cannot be in use. Each individual tower must be filed; registration is not per building.

A tower maintenance plan must be developed in accordance with the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers Standard. Plans need to include a schedule for routine sampling, emergency testing procedures, and disinfection. The plan needs to remain in the building and be able to be brought out upon request.

Towers must be tested and inspected once every ninety days while in use. During the inspection, they look for organic material, biofilm, algae, and other visible contaminants and microbes. Disinfection needs to be performed by environmental consultants with demonstrated mastery of standard protocols.

Cleaning must be done twice a year, and corrosion-resistant, sunlight-blocking materials must be used when replacing system parts. The water must be chemically treated every day with continuously recirculated water. Microbial monitoring and inspection of wetted surfaces and chemical treatment equipment check must be done weekly

All records must be kept for three years after being produced.

Discontinued Use
Within 30 days after a cooling tower. You must drain and sanitize the device, and then issue a statement that this has been completed.

If the tower has been in disuse for five or more days, in the 15 or fewer days before it starts up again, it must be cleaned and disinfected

Why These Measures are Important

It is imperative for cooling towers to be sanitized properly. These measurements are in place to protect public health, as they have been recognized as a source of Legionnaires Disease/Legionella. If they are not properly cleaned, then this bacteria gets into the air and can cause harm to those in the building. Therefore, these devices must always be in top form.

You will receive violations for noncompliance. Fines of up to $10,000 for not registering, submitting an annual certification, or reporting discontinued use of a cooling tower.

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