The Ins & Outs of
Concrete Silo Inspection
Mole•Master Services Corp.
Reno Business Park
27815 State Route 7
Marietta, Ohio 45750
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.
Indications of serious age-related problems include:
Vertical cracks on the silo exterior
Bulging silo walls
Material seepage from one silo to another
When any of these issues become apparent, the next
logical step is a professional silo inspection.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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:
Dry ice blasting
Safe-T-Shot CO2 blasting
At Mole●Master, Safety is a Way of Life
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.
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