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The Importance of Regular Industrial Chimney Repair & Inspection

Industrial ChimneyAs the owner of an industrial factory or plant, you need to ensure that your chimneys & smokestacks are in good repair and in proper working order. If they aren’t working properly, they can and eventually will cause major hazards to health and safety as well as the surrounding environment. Having a regular industrial chimney inspection can ensure that your factory and production doesn’t come to a standstill due to the “sudden failure” of a neglected chimney system.

Since most stacks and chimneys are such large, fixed structures we can easily walk past them every day and pay them little mind.  And the most damage and wear-prone areas are usually the hardest to see from ground level – the interior, the top, areas around breeching duct inlets, inspection ports, and upper reaches of ladders, platforms and fall-arrest systems. Stacks are an integral part of plant emission systems which are most always subject to permit conditions and closely monitored, so special care should be taken to ensure they are regularly cleaned & maintained to avoid fines or penalties.

Industrial chimneys are subject to multiple stresses and sources of wear and tear, including temperature excursions, chemical attack, wind loading and potentially, seismic events.  Concrete chimneys develop hairline cracks and shrinkage cracks which can lead to spalling and deterioration. Byproducts in the plant exhaust stream can wear out the interior of stacks and chimneys leading to rust, masonry deterioration, or thinning and de-lamination of fiberglass reinforced plastic liners or shells, causing leaks. and possible fires. Leaks from stacks which are fully or partially enclosed by a building can allow carbon monoxide to escape into the surrounding structure, posing a serious health hazard.

Because they hold such importance, industrial chimneys and smokestacks should have a customized inspection and repair plan carried out by experienced professional technicians. Due to their size and construction, accessing many parts of your industrial chimney can be expensive and time consuming.  Looking at a chimney or stack from the ground is of limited value in determining its real condition, especially in the early stages of an impending problem.

For example, detecting areas of dangerously thin metal on a painted steel stack by visual means only is virtually impossible until the damage is well-advanced.  This problem most often indicates a failure of the stack liner, which allows hot, corrosive flue gases to penetrate cracks in the liner and attack the steel structure from the inside out.  A non-destructive ultrasonic thickness inspection provides a quick, accurate and reliable means of identifying thinning areas of the metal structure.  The problem is compounded for stacks covered with insulation and lagging, where an internal ultrasonic inspection with the stack off-line and cool is even more critical.

Likewise, detecting cracks, holes and wear in gunite or brick refractory liners is best accomplished by close-up, direct visual inspection.  Hiring an industrial chimney service company that utilizes rope access techniques can help identify and fix potential hazards like these while saving significant time & money compared to using traditional scaffolding or other approaches.

industrial chimney

If you have your industrial chimney or smokestack serviced regularly, you can avoid expensive problems or failures by attending to minor repairs when the problems first arise. In most cases, the dollars invested to implement repairs before they become much more severe and costly will also serve to prevent potentially catastrophic failures such as a partial or complete collapse.

If you want to implement an inspection and repair plan for your plant’s chimneys or smokestacks, contact us and we will send out a team of highly trained rope access technicians to keep your system safe, compliant and in good working order. Our service plans include a full range of inspection techniques and tools, used to check, measure, verify and document the condition or your chimneys and stacks and develop prioritized, budgeted recommendations to keep them in top shape for years to come.

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