Water quality is one of the biggest driving factors that affect the longevity of cool cell pads. Cleaner water typically means cleaner pads. However, even clean water can lead to damaged pads if pads are not properly maintained. Why does supposedly clean water lead to pad quality issues? It comes down to the composition of the water going through the cool cell system. Understanding what kind of water you have on your farm (mineralogy, alkalinity), the better you are able to develop a routine pad maintenance program to extend the life of your pads.
What’s in my water that makes it potentially harmful to cool cell pads?
The main component in water that pushes the limits of pad life are minerals. The main mineral challenges farms face includes iron, magnesium and calcium. Weathered sedimentary rock is pervasive in the southeast, with sandstone, limestone, and shale being the most common types of bedrock. Limestone is primarily made of calcium carbonate. The higher water table in many parts of the southeast means wells don’t have to be drilled as deep, so mineral challenges aren’t as significant as areas of California, Texas and other states where deeper wells are necessary and water has the chance to pick up more mineral content.
Cool Cell Pads and Minerals Don’t Mix
Evaporative cool cell systems have the potential to go through a tremendous amount of water. Depending on the size of the cool cell system and runtime, as much as 3,000 gallons of water can evaporate from the entire system each day.
Keep in mind that only pure water evaporates from the pad system which means all the minerals stay behind in the system. Overtime, the concentration of minerals can increase tremendously and may become corrosive to the pads, destroy their rigidity, and/or buildup on the pads themselves turning them into rocklike slabs.
These harmful issues can be lessened by taking water samples and working backwards to identify likely issues by studying the alkalinity, conductivity and minerology of your water.
Alkalinity is defined as the buffering capacity of water or its ability to maintain a stable pH. Ideal water pH for pads is between 6 (slightly acidic) and 8 (slightly caustic).
Alkaline water typically has a pH of 8 or 9 and contains bicarbonates, carbonates, sulfates or hydroxides that, when deposited after water evaporation, can become concentrated and increase the pH of the water being recirculated. Magnesium is one mineral in alkaline water linked to scaling.
Far Reaching Effects of Water Quality
Water quality has far reaching effects on equipment and birds. By simply understanding the likely challenges based on water composition, producers can help combat them.
Mineral tests can identify the severity of your challenge with calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, zinc and others. Samples should be preferably collected from the well head rather than a faucet or other access point as the test could be impacted by the state of the plumbing. Samples can be sent to your local county extension office. Municipal water suppliers and local laboratories may also provide testing services.