Every year prior to harvest, it’s important to inspect all areas of corrugated steel grain storage bins and perform all necessary maintenance. An annual inspection will help you identify problems and reduce the risk of a major component failure that could require lengthy, expensive repairs. Be sure to include all areas of the bin, such as the foundation, walls, openings, roof and equipment.
Identify all foundation cracks. Cracks one-sixteenth of an inch wide or less are usually not an issue. Cracks wider than one-eighth of an inch should be sealed to prevent water intrusion. Water intrusion can potentially reach reinforcement steel and cause corrosion. During cold temperatures, this water can freeze and cause cracks to worsen — further damaging the foundation.
The foundation needs to be level to properly support the grain bin. The edge of the foundation should be sloped to allow rainwater to flow away from the bin. The ground surrounding the foundation should also be sloped so rainwater does not pool around the foundation. Ensure the bin sidewall is tightly secured to the foundation all the way around. Also check all anchor bolts to verify they’re firmly attached to the foundation and the bin.
Inspect the bin sidewall inside and out to check for missing, loose or broken bin bolts. Also look at the area around the bin to see if there are any bin bolts on the ground. Tighten all loose bolts and replace broken or missing bolts with bolts of the same size and strength as the originals. Replace any bent, damaged or recorrugated bin sidewall panels with new panels of the same gauge. Remove all rust and apply rust-inhibiting primer or paint over affected areas.
If the bin has stiffeners, verify they’re attached and plumb. Ensure base plates for the stiffeners are in firm contact with the foundation or that shims are in place to compensate for any gaps that exist between the base plate and the foundation. If the bin walls have wind rings, verify they’re attached and tight.
The interior of the bin walls and bin floor should have all old grain removed. Any old grain in the bin can be a source for mold or insects in the new crop grain in storage. If spoiled grain is sticking to the bin wall after cleaning, try to determine if there’s a water leak in the area causing the spoilage. If a leak is identified, seal or repair the source of the leak.
Inspect openings in bin walls to verify connections are tight. Look for any damage or tearing on the bin panels surrounding the openings. Inspect structural frames used to reinforce openings to ensure the frames are undamaged and don’t show signs of being over-stressed. To prevent a failure that results in an accidental off-center unloading condition, verify that door latches and other devices used to secure openings are in a closed position.
Inspect the bin roof for any damaged panels. Clean debris from the roof, peak ring and roof vents. Debris traps moisture and hasten the deterioration of the protective coatings of the roof. Check that the bin roof overhang over the sidewall is uniform all the way around the bin. If the overhang is not uniform, it could be a sign that the bin roof-to-sidewall connection needs to be repaired. If the bin roof has wind rings, make sure they’re firmly attached. Ensure equipment attached to the roof is evenly distributed and applied at the peak ring. Verify equipment weight doesn’t exceed the peak ring capacity of the bin.
Operate all equipment associated with the bin and make sure everything is running smoothly, including aeration fans, exhaust fans, lights, the reclaim conveyor/auger, sweep auger and fill system. Make sure the bin reclaim system doesn’t contain old grain. If necessary, lubricate the slide gates for the reclaim system. Open the power distribution panel to verify that it’s free of water leaks and grain bin dust or other combustible materials.
Conducting pre-harvest inspections and maintenance will help you avoid costly downtime during the busy harvest season.