Smokestack Maintenance

Smokestack Maintenance and Smokestack Repair:

The second law on thermodynamics developed through the fundamental work of Carnot, Clausius, and Kelvin states that every system left to itself changes in such a way as to approach a definite final state of rest.

For structural contractors, this law is never quite so evident as when it comes to industrial chimneys.

There are few structures which encounter more adverse conditions. Conditions such as winds that rock a chimney in every direction, acid that can eat through concrete, wide variations of temperature, and sometimes problems from gases or lightning. In order to preserve industrial chimneys effectively, they must be maintained regularly, being monitored closely and carefully by an experienced smokestack contractor.

Smokestack Repair Company Work

A Premier Smokestack Maintenance Company
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At Continental Chimney And Engineering LLC, we keep up with studies for better products and solutions  to provide our customers with what may prolong  their chimney life beyond the norm of what has been industrial standard. Our goal is to provide smokestack repairs that will allow chimney operation for greater numbers of trouble free hours, making for a more economical plant. Our aim is to provide effective, efficient outstanding service.

At Continental Chimney we believe the greatest way for us to advertise is through the quality of our workmanship enduring the test of time.  At Continental Chimney we employ engineers skilled in industrial chimney construction, steel smokestack construction, smokestack maintenance, and smokestack repair.

Our commercial chimney repair, smokestack maintenance team is involved with different chimney engineers incorporating up to date solutions for concrete smokestacks, steel smokestacks, brick smokestacks and fiberglass smokestacks, using a variety of different materials and methods.

Industrial Chimney Repair Challenges 2

Water damage open joints

Bellow in chimney wall

due to lack of

proper maintance

Smokestack Maintenance at the SS Administration Phila, Pa

Industrial Chimney Repair at the SS building Phila, PA

Social Security Administration Building.   Confined space repair patching of two 130′ X 2′ steel chimney columns at various heights inside the flue pipe.

American Concrete Institute

The History of Smokestack Maintenance:

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution chimneys have been built from bricks to heights  ranging from 50 – 250 feet.   They have been designed to service numerous types of facilities.

An industrial smokestack  has a very small footprint in relation to its actual size.  What is out of sight is often out of mind, and ironically more often than not the commercial smokestack and what is needed for maintenance goes on in operation neglected.  Chimneys constructed of radial brick and steel and even concrete, require regular maintenance and repair to remain operational to reach their maximum intended lifespan.

Common brick was used for chimneys for thousands of years in factory chimneys,  later perforated  radial brick  was invented in Europe by Alphons Custodis in 1869.  Radial brick smokestacks were more capable, and allowed chimneys to be built taller, revolutionizing the industry.  These radial bricks chimneys have are extruded bricks and have a hollow cored interior.  They also sit side by side allowing for a secure bond between the brickwork.   Since the face of these bricks are larger less work and less bricks are needed to build a smokestack.    On the other hand, the common brick chimney is heavier, takes up more space, and takes more time to build, repair, and dismantle.  In the laste1800s, the radial brick chimney started replacing the common brick chimney.  At that same time the industrial concrete stack was more expensive to build, so brick was the premier choice being sold by engineers and contractors.  Later on, the concrete chimney would go on to replace the brick chimney where they would be built taller than 200 feet.  After 1970 brick construction declined due to higher costs.  However, by 1960 refineries were using refinery smokestack contractors to build refectory lined steel smokestacks chimneys.  The apartment commercial chimney company builders started the installation of refractory lined stainless steel industrial chimneys at the same time.

In the 1950’s there were 12 manufacturing companies that produced radial bricks, today Continental Chimney is the only manufacturer of these radial bricks.  Our bricks are made specifically for repair jobs on industrial stacks and chimneys.

In order to understand how to repair smokestack problems facing owners of radial brick chimneys, it is necessary understand the history and how they are now being used today.  Burning coal or oil produces sulfuric acid present in the flue gas which in turn gets absorbed into the walls of the chimney.  However brick chimneys are better handle the drier gas at a temperature of around 300º F, and sometimes as high as 1500º F.  In the beginning, radial brick chimneys were built by the industrial chimney company without a full chimney liner or no liner at all.  These liners would be made of bricks and of the same mortar as was used in the rest of the chimney. Later on chimneys would have full liners if the operating temperature would be over 600º F.  However those chimneys there were insulated with asbestos present a problem for the smokestack demolition company and smokestack abatement company.

Today the choice for the boiler smokestack to use natural gas which has a higher water content, which in turn causes masonry to deteriorate fast.   The commercial chimney contractor also finds that steel chimneys have signification problems with the higher water content.  When flue gas temperatures fall below 350º F the water content in the smoke mixes with the acid in the fuel which does not always make it up and out the chimney.  The acids then more readily form  inside the column in a gas condensation.  Portland cement and partially lime does not do will in an acidic environment.  Today maintenance includes the use of mortars in these joints with an acid resistant gunite  or other substitute that will work better than mortar.

Another burden the radial brick chimney is faced with is gases from incineration used to burn hazardous waste. Rather than erect a new or separate stack for incineration, it is cheaper to route the incinerator flue to the existing industrial boiler chimney. Plastic produces high concentrations of hydrochloric acid when incinerated, and the result is that these acids end up in mortar chimney joints.

Refineries sometimes use a refinery chimney to vent gasses which at times exceed the intended operating temperatures of the chimney.  As a result in the annual refinery smokestack inspection the refinery chimney company would then find significant damage and repair work that needs to go out to bid to refinery chimney contractors.  The refinery chimney might need to be demolished in some cases by a refinery smokestack company with a history of refinery smokestack demolition.

Industrial Chimney Maintenance, Industrial Chimney Repair:

Some smokestack companies sell work to paint brick smokestacks and paint concrete smokestacks.  However, when an industrial brick smokestack is painted water can get trapped behind the bricks and destroy them.  Brick smokestacks should never be painted.  Concrete can be painted with less concerns, however once a coating is applied to an smokestack it needs to be maintained otherwise it can cause more harm then good.

Like any exposed structure chimneys deteriorate over time, especially here in the North East where there are greater fluctuations in temperatures.  When water can get into the mortar joints the brick column of the chimney can become soaked, where in certain conditions freezing weather large sections of brick faces can break away from the chimney.  Sometimes down the column water can flow and accumulate in the lower sections cracking and slowly turning all the bricks to sand.  On any typical day of the week there can be some kind of wind, and an industrial chimney this means that it is always in motion.  In hurricane winds there can be serious damage, yet it is possible to tie off large industrial chimneys with guy wire and rope to prevent them from incurring damage.

Regular pointing of the mortar joints by a reputable smokestack company, replacing bricks that will prevent water from soaking into the chimney column and destroying a chimneys structural integrity is the first thing that usually needs to be considered.

Steel banding is often done on factory chimneys to prevent or stop cracks from progressing by the industrial chimney contractor.  Banding is also used to stop the column from bellowing out in factory smokestack walls when it is over a certain age and there is a history of acid attack.  However for these bands to function properly they need to be made of heavy steal and bent on the ends around to the inside rather than over the band clamp around and out.  Welding bands together on the chimney does not work as well as using band clamps because after so many years rust will break the band apart.  This is because it is impossible to weld under the band when the band is being constructed on the chimney.

Damage from lightning strikes is more prevalent on radial brick chimneys, and we believe this is because a lack in maintenance in brick chimneys leads to ledges and openings in the top of the brickwork allowing water to soak into the brick column.  When lightning strikes, these arias become super heated and there is an explosion, sometimes long cracks are formed in a lighting strike down a side of the chimney column.  Often a broken down lead goes unrepaired which is the cause.  Typically a concrete chimney does not have so many problems and sometimes the steel in the concrete may be tied into the ground.  Nevertheless, older concrete chimneys also become soft and porous.  Frequent industrial chimney inspection and maintenance of LPS components by a smokestack company should be done on a regular basis.

Commercial chimney maintenance and  industrial chimney maintenance sometimes have different concerns.  Location plays a part in how and in what way a chimney can be restored.  Depending on the location various industrial chimney repairs should or should not considered by a company and their smokestack contractor.

Binocular inspections should occur once a year.

Full height interior and exterior hands on inspection should be done every three years.

A Pressure wash should be done every five years.

Smokestack maintenance should be implemented on a regular bases to avoid rapid deterioration.

The Youtube link below leads to an improper cement repair job being removed at Concord Steam, NH.