Whether on a boiler or a cooling tower, make-up water meters tell you a lot about the health of your equipment. They can be your first alert to a leak, and they can indicate inefficient operation that wastes water and causes extra wear on your equipment.
If you don’t already have a meter on every make-up water line in your facility, install one now. Then track those meter readings as part of your daily rounds.
Water is the fastest rising utility cost in New York City, so a few unnoticed leaks can cause thousands of dollars in lost water per year. And adding fresh water to your system introduces impurities that can damage piping and boiler tubes, driving up your fuel costs and decreasing overall efficiency while reducing the useful life of the most expensive assets in your facility.
Realistically, any system will have some water loss that will require making up (ideally, closed systems like those in two-pipe steam heat shouldn’t have any, but most will have a little bit), so learn your baseline and watch for any major increases in water use.
Look at the graph below for a recent real-life example:
You can see that this condensate tank required a steady amount of make-up water (~35 gallons/day) until January 2nd, when daily water use jumped up significantly (to over 200 gallons/day). A usage increase like this would raise water costs by nearly $1,000 over the course of a single year, not to mention the other costs related to inefficiencies and damages. And all of this assumes that nothing gets worse, and we all know how “small leaks never get smaller, they only get bigger.”
Tracking make-up water alerted these engineers to an issue and now they’re working to fix a problem that they might not have even known about otherwise.
Unfortunately, most of the buildings I walk through DON’T track make-up water. But the smartest ones do, and you should too. So spend the hundred bucks or so now to install a make-up water meter. It could save you thousands down the road.