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Frequently Asked Questions -
Separators & Separator Systems

Q: Why do I want a separator in my cooling tower loop?

A: Cooling towers pull dirt and debris from the air and generate lime scale due to water evaporation. While airborne dust may circulate through chillers and heat exchangers, coagulated dirt and lime scale grow into "chunks" that clog cooling water passages in most types of equipment. In addition, the accumulation of debris in the tower basin stops the effectiveness of chemicals for rust prevention and allows breeding of bacteria.

Q: Why do I want a full-stream separator instead of a side-stream sand filter?

A: Wingert Separators are capable of handling full-stream. This means that 100% of the tower flow is passed through the separator. A sand filter can only be used as a side-stream filter because when they backwash all forward flow is stopped and diverted to waste. In addition, side-stream means only 10-20% of the tower flow goes through the filter instead of 100% as with the full-stream separator.

Q: How is a full-stream Wingert Separator installed?

A: The J.L. Wingert separator is installed after the pump and before the equipment. The Wingert Separator traps the system sediment in a bottom purge chamber within itself. The purge chamber does not offer resistance to tower flow, even when it is full of sediment. The separator has a constant pressure drop unlike a sand filter that reduces flow as it gets dirty. The purge chamber is emptied periodically to waste with an automated purge system.

Q: How can I stop wasting tower water?

A: Sand filter systems clean themselves by backwashing or backflushing. Backwashing and backflushing is a reverse flow of tower water through the sand filter to send trapped sediment to a drain. This process takes 3 to 4 minutes at the sand filter systems flow rate; a 300 gpm sand filter sends 900 to 1200 gallons of tower water to waste. This also means the drain must be able to handle 300 gpm. Water lost by a separator during purge is between 1% to 3% of the separator gpm. A 300 gpm separator uses 3 to 9 gallons for the purge cycle. J.L. Wingert also offers a zero-discharge design, the recovery vessel system.

Q: Is there an advantage to a side-stream separator system over a sand filter?

A: A sand filter system is installed after the tower pump. The system has a pump and controls to circulate 10% to 20% of the tower water through the sand filter. This is the same installation method for a side-stream separator system, however the separator system does not have as large of a footprint nor does it waste a large amount of water like the sand filter system. When it comes to the foot print a 1200 gpm separator system has a 66"x48" footprint while a 1200 gpm sand filter system is 110"x160".

Q: My tower is always dirty. Can I clean my tower automatically?

A: J.L. Wingert offers separators factory piped and wired as systems. These systems can be used to filter the water in the basin or sump of the tower. These systems also allow for the addition of eductors and piping to "sweep" the sediments into the separator system suction point. While this removes sediments from the tower, it does not filter all the water leaving the tower; only a full-flow separator can do that.

Q: Can I use a side-stream system and eductors together for my tower?

A: A side-stream system only sees 10-20% of system flow, 80-90% of solids flow past a side-stream system. Because the purpose of eductors is to keep solids from settling, we do not recommend adding eductors to a tower unless a separator system is connected independently to the tower protecting against solids entering the circulation piping.

These tips are provided as a courtesy to our customers. J.L. Wingert Company makes no guarantee and assumes no obligation or liability for the information contained therein.
J.L. Wingert Representatives can assist you with the selection of equipment best suited to your specific needs. Contact our customer service department by e-mail at or call us Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST at (714) 379-5519, or fax us at (714) 379-5549.

Copyright © 2004 J.L. Wingert Company - Last modified: 3/25/08