Depending on the circumstances, watching a silo collapse can evoke one of two emotions. If the collapse was planned as part of a demolition or new construction project, it can be awe-inspiring. What’s not to enjoy about watching a 250-foot building tumble down to earth like a stack of blocks that got swatted by a giant toddler?
An unplanned silo collapse, of course, is a horrific sight. There go the silo, its contents, and any buildings or vehicles that were unfortunate enough to have been located nearby. It is an expensive and very dangerous show.
A silo collapse can result from any number of structural failures including gradual deterioration of the foundation, roof, structural beams, floor, or walls. But fortunately these failures are entirely preventable with routine inspection and a few specialized repairs.
Having coated and restored countless silos throughout the United States, we have detected every one of these issues firsthand and performed the repairs necessary to remedy them. Here are just a few of the types of repairs companies like ours perform on a regular basis so our clients never have to worry about silo collapse.
Given enough time, most stave silos will begin to tilt to the side. This occasionally results from a defect in the foundation, although deteriorating staves surrounding the base are more often the culprit. Straightening a silo is, appropriately enough, a straightforward process that typically entails jacking it back to a 90 degree angle, replacing its failing staves, and possibly treating its base with sprayed concrete.
The metal hoops which girdle a stave silo are critical to its structural integrity. Corrosion and strain will gradually weaken these hoops to the point where they can no longer adequately contain the pressure bearing up against the silo’s walls – threatening imminent collapse. Rehooping a silo entails replacing some or all of its failing hoops with new steel bands, and once this repair has been completed the silo’s original capacity can become completely restored.
Concrete silos often fragment, crack, and evince separation of the bricks forming their walls over time, especially when they receive a lot of usage or store unusually heavy materials. This is because concrete, for all its compression strength, is characteristically weak in tensile strength. Post-tensioning compensates for this shortcoming by installing strong metal strands within and around the concrete silo’s exterior, thus reinforcing it until its original load capacity has been restored.
Silo roofs endure an incredible amount of strain. In addition to their relentless exposure to the elements (which are especially harsh in the Midwest where we are headquartered), they must bear enormous pressure as the silo is emptied and filled on a regular basis. If a concrete silo roof cracks or begins to leak for another reason, it jeopardizes the contents and eventually the entire structure itself.
Regular maintenance can prevent massive damage, but when the situation merits we will inspect the roof to determine the extent of its damage, repair all fractures, rust-proof all exposed metal elements, and then cover the roof’s entirety with a structurally sound and weather resistant material. Spray foam insulation, which is perfectly suited to a silo’s odd angulature and insulatory needs, is especially beneficial following any repairs to its roof.
In addition to reinforcing a silo’s walls, replacement of their worn out sections can also be necessary. Wall repair demands special measures to ensure the silo’s structural integrity will not become compromised while certain sections of its wall are removed entirely. Steel silos may have portions of their walls cut out, replaced and then relined. Concrete silos can have sections of their walls replaced in an analogous fashion, although composite fiber reinforcements are also available to fortify a wall section without demanding its outright replacement.
Our techniques for restoring a silo’s original capacity and extending its lifespan are far from limited to those outlined above. If you believe your silo is not performing to its architect’s original expectations – or at any risk of collapsing – then we welcome you to contact us today. Our seasoned repair technicians are standing by to inspect your silo, detect any ways in which it may be failing, and prescribe the most appropriate and cost-effective solutions.