Understanding Mineral Buildup from Hard Water on Cool Cell Pads

Posted by Jones-Hamilton Co. on Aug 13, 2020
Jones-Hamilton Co.

Evaporative cooling pad systems have become an essential part of today’s tunnel-ventilated poultry house cooling system. When properly installed and maintained, they have the potential to decrease the temperature of incoming air by 20°F or more1! However, when not properly maintained, not only can the efficiency and life of this system be dramatically reduced, it may also negatively impact the air speed of tunnel fans.

When pulling air down a house, tunnel fans have to work against evaporative cooling pads. In general, a well-designed, new evaporative cooling pad system will increase the pressure fans work against by three to five points. The increase in pressure translates to a decrease in the air moving capacity of a typical tunnel fan by three to seven percent which is equal to about 50 ft/min2.

In contrast, if an evaporative cooling pad system is not adequately maintained (ie. dirty pads), it could add ten or more points which could result in an air speed reduction of 100 ft/min or more2. (Figure 1)


Routine maintenance is one of the best ways to reduce and/or prevent evaporative cooling pad systems from losing efficiency and harming tunnel fan performance.

Maximizing pad life and efficiency

One of the primary aspects of maximizing pad life and efficiency is monitoring water quality. Many farms have hard water, or water that contains high levels of minerals such as calcium. Since only pure water evaporates from the pads, these minerals can eventually concentrate in the water, and can corrode the pads or precipitate onto the pad itself causing them to become rock like. Mineral buildup on pads can clog the holes in pads which can restrict air flow, increase the work on tunnel fans, and potentially decrease air speed.

Another aspect is wetting and drying out pads. Ideally, pads should operate so that water can completely wet the pad. By doing this, it can help remove debris and minerals off the pad and reduce buildup. By only partially wetting a pad, it can increase the chance of buildup and reduce the life of a pad and potentially air flow into a house. Completely drying out a pad is just as critical as it can greatly reduce the chances of algae growth. Therefore, many manufacturers recommend that pads be allowed to completely dry out each night3.

In comparison to the aspects above, regularly flushing pad systems is likely one of the best ways to maximize pad life and efficiency. Flushing eliminates concentrated minerals in the water and enables fresh, clean water to run over pads. Flushing frequency is primarily determined by the quality of water on a farm. A simple water pH test can notify you how often your system needs to be flushed4.

Improve pad life and air flow by removing mineral buildup

What happens if there is already mineral buildup on a pad or is there additional ways to maintain pad performance? SWASHCOOL-CELLis a potentially easy and convenient way for producers to enhance the life and efficiency of their evaporative cool pad system. SWASHCOOL-CELL has been specifically formulated to contain elements that bind onto minerals and keep them in solution thereby keeping them off pads. The solution is odorless and can be applied in one simple step resulting in dramatically shorter cleaning time.

For one California based operations manager SWASHCOOL-CELL delivered a very visible benefit. Not only did he experience less scale buildup and improved airflow, he saw the calcium coming off the pads. “When we first put SWASHCOOL-CELL in the system, we saw a color change in the water,” he noted. The milky water he saw was the calcium being solubilized.

The operations manager also noted the flexibility of SWASHCOOL-CELL. “We can only run foaming products during downtime. With SWASHCOOL-CELL, since there’s no foaming, we can use it anytime we lose cooling capacity.” When producers clean cool cell pads prior to flock placement, the evaporative cooling system functions well during the first couple weeks. However, as more water is run through the pads and scale and dust levels increase, cooling capacity can often be diminished—right when it’s needed most.

“With SWASHCOOL-CELL you can leave it in and water is continually getting clear. “At the end of flock, when we're running cool cells 14-15 hours a day, we saw more cool efficiency, increased wind speeds, and a better environment for birds.” And SWASHCOOL-CELL does not contain chlorine bleach, which can attack the glue in the pads and cause delamination.4

        Picture2   Picture3

Cool cell pads before and after treatment with SWASHCOOL-CELL™; notice the decrease in the amount of scale buildup

Have you seen SWASHCOOL-CELL™ in Action?

If you’ve seen the benefits of SWASHCOOL-CELL in action, we want to hear from you. Let us know your cool cell story, or contact us to see what SWASHCOOL-CELL can do to improve the efficiency of your evaporative cooling system.

1 Evaporative cooling pad quality makes a difference. Poultry Housing Tips. University of Georgia. Vol 20:7.

2 How much do evaporative cooling pads reduce air speed? Poultry Housing Tips. University of Georgia. Vol 25:4.

3 Cooling system maintenance. Evaporative cooling pads. Munters.

4 The importance of flushing evaporative cooling systems. Poultry Housing Tips. University of Georgia. Vol 21:8.



SWASH™ is owned by Jones-Hamilton Co., a leading provider of science-backed solutions to the animal agriculture industry. Led by industry veterans who understand the challenges faced by producers, the SWASH™ team is dedicated to providing reliable, high-quality chemicals backed by dependable customer service and knowledgeable technical support. Our team knows that every penny matters and works continuously to ensure value, maximize efficacy, and enhance the bottom line.


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