Follow these suggestions to help ensure a safe and profitable harvest season.

Each year after bins are emptied, it’s important to inspect all areas of corrugated steel grain storage bins and perform maintenance before the bins are needed again for the following harvest. An annual inspection helps you identify problems and reduce the risk of a major component failure which could require lengthy, expensive repairs or negatively impact your harvest profits. Below are tips for inspecting all five areas of corrugated steel grain storage bins.

  1. Foundation

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 down and 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 and/or hold down brackets to verify they’re firmly attached to the foundation and the bin and that hold down nuts are tight.

  1. Walls

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 corrugated bin sidewall panels with new panels of the same gauge thickness and corrugation profile. Remove all rust and apply rust-inhibiting primer or paint over affected areas.

If the bin has stiffeners, verify they are attached and plumb. Localized rusting near grade at vertical stiffeners, baseplates and anchor bolts are common with inside stiffened bins. 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 are attached and properly adjusted.

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 is a water leak in the area causing the spoilage. If a leak is identified, work should be done to seal the leak.

  1. Openings

Inspect openings and reinforce frames in bin walls to verify that shifting and movement are not occurring. Look for any damage, torn bin wall sheets or broken bolts at and near bin wall openings. 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. Padlocking all off-center floor gates shut until the bin is gravity empty from the center sump can help prevent accidental use of the wrong floor gate.

  1. Roof

Inspect the bin roof for any damaged panels. Clean debris from the roof, peak ring, and roof vents. Debris traps moisture and speeds up 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 are firmly attached and properly adjusted. Ensure equipment attached to the roof is loading the bin roof as intended by the bin manufacturer (evenly and at the peak). Verify equipment weight does not exceed the peak ring capacity of the bin.

  1. Equipment

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 does not contain old grain. If necessary, lubricate the slide gates for the reclaim system. Open the power distribution panel to verify that it is free of water leaks and grain bin dust, combustible materials, or rodent nests.

Conducting pre-harvest inspections and maintenance will help you avoid costly downtime during the busy harvest season. 

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