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The Ins & Outs of Concrete Silo Inspection


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With concrete silos across the country beginning to show their age, a proactive silo inspection program paired with regular maintenance can prevent silo collapses and improve worker safety.

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The Ins & Outs of Concrete Silo Inspection

  1. 1. The Ins & Outs of Concrete Silo Inspection Presented by: Mole•Master Services Corp. Reno Business Park 27815 State Route 7 Marietta, Ohio 45750
  2. 2. Aging Silos Present New Problems Many of today’s concrete silos were built 50 or 60 years ago, when there was not as much knowledge about silo behavior or about how material moves through a silo. As a result, many silos still in use today don’t incorporate current precautions, and the original infrastructure is no longer as efficient – or as safe – as was originally assumed. Silos are definitely beginning to show their age.
  3. 3. Warning Signs Indications of serious age-related problems include:  Vertical cracks on the silo exterior  Bulging silo walls  Protruding steel  Material seepage from one silo to another When any of these issues become apparent, the next logical step is a professional silo inspection.
  4. 4. Fighting Human Nature The next logical step, however, isn’t always what happens. Owners often delay and put concrete silo inspections on the back burner, which is only natural. After all, who wants to beg for trouble? Unfortunately, as with so many things in life, the consequences of avoiding a concrete silo inspection can be much greater than the actual cost of performing one.
  5. 5. The Race is Not Always to the Swift Next to procrastinating as long as possible, the second most natural response is to speed the process up and get through the inspection and follow-up as quickly as possible. The sooner the work is completed, the sooner the silo is back on line and everything is back to normal, right? But not so fast.
  6. 6. Safety First, Last, and Always Speed really can kill. In the rush to minimize downtime, it’s far too easy to miss a small issue that later leads to a serious failure and far more downtime, not to mention a significant risk of worker injury or death. The better course is to take the time to put safety first, ensuring a good outcome for everyone involved.
  7. 7. The best path forward is to contract for a professional inspection by a company that prioritizes safety and proper training. Hiring a certified engineer to perform an inspection is preferable to drafting an employee who may have a vested interest in passing over any obvious problems. A professional silo inspection engineer will make sure the job is done right and will provide an honest evaluation, whether the owner likes the results or not. Professionalism Counts
  8. 8. A specially trained engineer will also be able to tell where potential problems exist, not just where problems are already surfacing. This is significant because prevention ultimately saves money over time. Asking a construction contractor to do a silo inspection can work, but construction contractors do not always understand silo behavior, and it is in their financial interest to find issues that they can fix. Benefits of a Professional Inspection
  9. 9. Clear Communication Is Key Before a concrete silo inspection ever begins, the first step is to make sure the owner has a clear understanding about everything that will occur, including the length of the downtime and the actual steps of the inspection. Facility owners also need to anticipate that the successful completion of an inspection may require the silo to be cleaned out, which will make the project safer and reduce its cost and duration.
  10. 10. A Two-Way Street The facility owner also needs to communicate clearly with the silo inspectors, who must have clear expectations that all pre-project requirements are done.  Has the storage vessel been cleaned out?  Have the dimensions of the access opening been confirmed?  Does that opening actually work, or has it been locked up to do build-up?
  11. 11. Concrete Silo Inspection Basics A thorough concrete silo inspection includes visual observation of the silo walls from the ground or nearby structures using binoculars as well as up-close observations of select locations of the exterior surface of the silo walls. A reputable silo inspector also may interview key facility personnel to determine silo usage history and intended future use.
  12. 12. A good silo inspection usually includes documentation of:  The width and patterns of cracks in the walls  Areas of delaminated wall concrete  Visible defects or problem areas in the reclaim areas  Visible defects or problem areas of the silo roof  The condition of the internal walls, roof and hopper Silo Inspection Basics, Con’td
  13. 13. Throughout the inspection, the inspection company often will work in tandem with a well-qualified silo rigging, maintenance and cleaning contractor. The engineer will want an experienced rigging and silo cleaning contractor to produce safe rigging for entry into the silo, or the contractor’s cleaning services may be required if the silo has material overhead making it unsafe to enter. A Partnership
  14. 14. Pairing an inspection engineer with an experienced rigging and silo cleaning contractor is beneficial for a variety of reasons. The contractor’s years of experience help projects run more smoothly and allow the rigging provider to offer the best, safest solutions for the project. A professional silo cleaning company will also be able to work with the engineer to identify the safest entry points and potential problem areas and can help avoid on-site hazards. Experience Pays
  15. 15. After a concrete silo inspection is completed, the engineer will take all photos and samples for further evaluation and then present a final report on the long-term condition and stability of the silo. The report will also contain recommendations touching on a number of topics, such as repairs, operational changes to reduce wear, and structural modifications. The Next Step
  16. 16. The most severe result after a concrete silo inspection is finding out that the storage vessel is simply not stable enough to continue to be used. The silo may need serious repairs, or it may need to be replaced entirely. While this is a daunting outcome requiring a significant investment of time and money, it’s worth it to avoid the likely alternative: an eventual silo collapse that could cost several employees their livelihoods or even their lives. The Worst Case Scenario
  17. 17. Despite the numerous benefits, concrete silo inspections and maintenance still can seem like expensive hassles. But, regular silo inspections can identify structural weaknesses that can be resolved quickly and inexpensively in comparison to the remediation often required for silos left uninspected and unmaintained for years. And regular silo maintenance, performed safely, can improve efficiency and productivity by preventing ratholes, bridging, and arching. Prevention is the Safest Path
  18. 18. With an emphasis on safety at every step along the way, Mole•Master is a trusted provider of a wide range of silo cleaning methods and equipment, including:  Abrasive blasting  Dry ice blasting  Junior 360°™  Arch•Master™  Safe-T-Shot CO2 blasting At Mole●Master, Safety is a Way of Life
  19. 19. Contact us for More Information Mole•Master has the expertise, staff and knowledge to tackle any silo inspection or cleaning job efficiently and safely. Be sure to contact us for help with your next project.  Call 800.322.6653  Email  Submit a request from our website