Fertilizer Blending Tower Maintenance

Minnesota Fertilizer Tower PaintingDo you own a large fertilizer blending tower in MN or the Midwest? It doesn’t really matter if its a Waconia, a Yargus, a Sackett, or any other brand. They all live a similar lifestyle.  When’s the last time you climbed to the top and gave it an inspection? It goes without saying, the conditions in Minnesota can be hard on metal structures. If your tower is over five years old, you had better be keeping an eye on it!

Just this past fall I inspected one in central MN, not far from Brainerd. The Co-op had just had a new roof installed on it at a cost of over $40,000. The site manager told me it was only 7 years old. Value engineering in the manufacturing department, combined with Minnesota weather and harsh chemicals, generates a devastating combination of rust and general corrosion.

The Roofs Go First

Minnesota Fertilizer Tower Painting

Large hunks of rust that we simply lifted up with a putty knife off of the roof of a MN tower that was only 8 years old!

The roofs on the towers get hit the worst it seems. This is for several reasons. One is because the roof will generally get more sunlight than all but the south side of your fertilizer tower. The ultra violet rays can and will deteriorate inferior coatings installed at the factory. Also, the roof being almost flat, will allow fertilizer dust and other chemicals to sit on top, where they can eat away at the paint for days or weeks on end. In the event that it rains hard and washes the top, that’s great as far as getting the chemicals off.

But yet another attack on the paint continues, and that would be the water droplets. Now the water droplets/puddles could generally be considered harmless by themselves. But when the sun rises, and shines through those droplets, it can put a real beating on your capital investment.

Have you ever lit anything on fire with a magnifying glass? That’s right, you go out in bright sunlight, hold the magnifying glass over some leaves or straw, and in a matter of seconds you’ll have a raging fire. The curved glass works in such a way that it can concentrate the suns rays into a very small circle. The power from the suns rays is enough to light just about anything on fire! Water droplets sitting on a steel roof can do the same thing! Except generally they won’t start it on fire, they just burn through the paint day after day until there isn’t any left.

Then the water droplets will continue to eat at the steel until that turns to dust as well! Depending on your environmental conditions, this can happen practically everyday, not even from rain water, but from dew alone. Combine that with the fact that the roof is just about impossible to keep an eye on from the ground, and you could be in for a rude awakening. Don’t wait till its too late!

Protect Your Investment

Minnesota Fertilizer Tower Painting

By the time you notice orange streaks running down the side of your tower, chances are that the roof is losing pieces of flesh the size of Bluegills! This artifact was taken off a blender tower roof less than ten years old. Almost 1/4″ thick!

As you well know, blending towers don’t come cheap! Nor does replacing the roof or wall panels if they get neglected too long. At R&H, we enjoy getting the opportunity to preserve your investment, and save you money. We have decades worth of experience specifically tailored for dealing with these issues. It drives me bonkers every time I see one getting panels replaced! Especially when they could have easily gotten by for a fraction of the price, had they had it re-coated in time.

Matter of fact, a proper maintenance schedule would include maintenance coating BEFORE rust is evident. Generally, this reduces the cost of prep work required before painting, and theoretically you’ll never lose any of the actual metal structure itself. Its kind of like waxing your truck, you let the wax take the beating, and periodically replace it, so that your truck itself doesn’t turn into a big ball of rust.

We have been having fantastic success in keeping Minnesota blending towers rust free, using a combination of multi-part epoxies and urethanes. The epoxies are specifically tailored for keeping the rust at bay, and the urethane topcoat is an ultra high gloss, which works remarkably well for deflecting the suns rays, and making sure the system lasts for a long time! Get ahold of us today! We’ll climb and inspect your tower for free!

Enjoy the snow, Bryce Raisanen


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