By Clyde H. Zelch
Plan ahead for tank maintenance — a three step process:
- Pre-bid Inspection: You must know what you have before you can decide what you need.
- Adequate bid specifications are required: Too little will not cover all the work to be done. Too much can complicate an already difficult job and unnecessarily increase cost.
- Inspection of work in process to assure that the specifications and accepted maintenance practices are abided by, on schedule.
The proper coating system, applied in the correct manner to a surface that has been carefully prepared is normally the most economical. The actual cost of a quality coating is usually only about 10% to 15% of the cost of renovating a water tower. Surface preparation cost can easily run 50%. The other 35% to 40% is in insurance, overhead, freight and other expenses; so trying to save a few dollars on lesser quality coatings is normally a serious mistake, and no matter how good a coating is used, if it is not mixed, thinned, and applied according to manufacturer’s specs, it cannot provide the service life it should. And, if the surface has not been properly prepared, all the rest is for nothing. With the quality of coatings that are available today, a water tower can be maintained almost forever. They may become functionally obsolete — too small or in the wrong location, but they will not wear out unless they are neglected.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. No one has all the answers. Everyone makes mistakes. When your town or water district hires a consultant or an engineer, you are paying $50.00 an hour and up; sometimes way up. You are hiring this person’s total accumulation of knowledge throughout a lifetime. Their common sense (which sometimes is not so common), their judgement, experience, education, and their ability to communicate are all part of what makes this person valuable to you. Don’t be afraid to ask the most simple question: Why? When they tell you to spend thousands of dollars — to drill a new well — put in new mains — build a new tower — take down an old tower, put in an altitude valve, or any one of a hundred other things; just ask why. They may be absolutely correct, but if they cannot explain to you why in a manner that makes sense and can be understood, then maybe you should ask why again. Why do you have this person employed? Why are you paying this person $50.00 to $100.00 an hour if they can’t explain why. We are not infallible.