Random Photo: Possibly Con Edison New York Power Plant or Paper Mill.
It is important to recognize that while massive and projecting an image of long-term strength – brick chimneys are in fact rather very susceptible to aging and deterioration and need constant attention to protect their livelihood. It is vital to keep industrial chimneys properly maintained, when a chimney has had little or no regular maintenance costly repairs will need to be considered if not demolition for the more neglected cases. An industrial chimney does not become more solid in time, rather these structures need constant attention to keep them in place.
The reason for a chimney’s need of constant attention is because 1.) Industrial chimneys see winds on all sides; Typically, there is always about a 5-mph breeze which rocks a chimney in a circular pattern or back and forth east to west or north to south. joints need constant attention for this reason. Open joints allow bricks here in the NE to absorb water, expand, and create bulges in the chimney. In freezing temperatures wet bricks will blow out the faces of the brickwork.
These are reasons in a list of why damage to chimneys take place on a regular basis:
1. Winds, wind regularly rocks the chimney in a circular motion which creates cracks or separation of bricks in the chimney
column, or stress to brick faces opposite a strong wind.
2. Improper pointing repairs which manifests itself in cracked brick faces and brick spalling.
3. Water accumulations that can pool in the chimney column in conjunction with acid or freezing.
4. Precipitation followed by a rapid freeze because of poor joints.
5. Broken lightning system followed by a Lightening strike through where water has accumulated in the chimney structure, which in turn can result in severe damage to the chimney column as the water creates an explosion.
6. Changes to the foundation, from acidic conditions or water runoff.
7. Liner failure, which in turn can undermine the structural integrity of the base of a chimney.
8. Steel foundation bolt failure on steel smokestacks.
9. Exhaust blockages from fly-ash or liner collapse.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, industrial chimneys should be inspected as follows:
Class 1 Inspection: Binocular inspections several times a year, especially after wet to freezing conditions. Check with binoculars for spalling brick faces, bellowing courses, cracks, damaged bands, broken lightening rod cables, broken lighting rods, and water accumulation in brick courses.
Class 2 Inspection: Every 5 years with a rope access inspections. In these cases inspections cannot be left to a drone. A drone may be used to help determine an amount of any kind of deterioration, but cannot qualify the kind of deterioration and the extent of repairs. An inspector with repair experience cannot properly understand either the extent of work or damage without getting up on the chimney column and doing a visual hands-on inspection of both the inside and outside of the chimney.
Although in some places industrial chimney inspections on the inside and outside may not be required by code or warrant a violation, forgoing inspection and maintenance will result in violations when a chimney no longer conforms to code by neglected inspections and maintenance. Forgoing inspections and maintenance may result in problems that can no longer be repaired, but always ends up in exponentially more repair costs.
It is prudent for the owners of industrial chimneys to plan for cost effective solutions which prolong chimney life, and the need for unscheduled shutdowns for emergency repairs. If you haven’t had a regular smokestack inspection recently, you should call us and schedule an inspection this year.
Donald Perry 01/08/2019 Latest Technology