Telecom Meets Water Tower

From JPCL, May 2016

By Christopher Wolfgram and Daniel J. Zienty, Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc.

More and more, telecommunications companies are using water towers as macro cell sites, mounting equipment onto handrail systems designed initially for access and maintenance. The authors present testing to determine the extent of potential heat damage to interior and exterior tank coating systems caused by welding additional bracing for telecom equipment....


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Tagged categories: Access; Christopher Wolfgram; Daniel Zienty; Maintenance coating work; Quality Control; Tank exteriors; Telecom; Water Tanks

Comment from Thomas Sexton, (6/6/2016, 9:06 AM)

I require a one-year anniversary inspection on the tank interior opposite where the exterior welding has occurred. It would be interesting to leave those test plates on the site for a year and then perform testing, just to see if the conclusions are any different. Stud welding is not mentioned but is often used to minimize heating of the tank steel when fixing antennae plates to the shell. Overall a great article!


Comment from B Brown, (6/7/2016, 2:11 PM)

MIG was correctly chosen as the lowest heat input welding process but maintaining shielding gas 150 ft. or more up in the air can be a problem. Flux core is likely to yield better results but you will likely have to hoist the welding machine to the roof of the tank. Stud welding can work but we need to remember to specify caulking those bolted connections during completion of the next repaint. And Thomas, the 1 year warranty inspection is a most wise choice as long as the start date is clearly defined and the owner does remember to complete the inspection before the 365'th day. AWWA used to claim only about 10% of water tower warranty inspections were exercised. The most common problem I have observed exceeds the coating failure caused by installation. The water tower owner happily allows installation with little thought to the problems all this clutter will cause when repainting of the tower is required. The little bit of lease income can be overshadowed by the additional cost of future coating maintenance and replacement of damaged cell equipmnet. There is nothing in the contract to address this. Often little thought is given to installation of the cables and antennas to make the affected parts of the structure paintable. What happens if left in place or will the new coating remain undamaged if cell clutter is removed and then reinstalled. In the example photo I did note in Fig. 9 bolting straps were used to attach antennas to the handrail rather than the all too common U bolts as just one example. Stainless cable mounting brackets with ample stand-off to allow tarping and shielding the cables in place with clearance remaining for abrasive blast cleaning and painting of the structure is a very rare existing design feature. Maybe wording requiring removal of the antennas during the maintenance period and wording to address weather permitting. Does the new handrail include the OSHA required 6" toe plate with a paintable gap between the roof deck and the bottom edge of the toe plate? Routing cable through the wet riser is a big problem. The wet riser is typically 36" - 48" diameter depending on the size of the overflow line that is already taking up part of the space. Just large enough to provide OSHA required minimum ladder clearances. Those minimum clearances are no longer present when cables are installed. Best of all hang those cables to bolt together metal rings that wedge against the interior of the painted wet riser tube. Chipping and damage to the new coating finish is guaranteed when the cables are re-installed. Oh yes, you the cell provider have to remove the wet riser cables to provide safe access for the painters. Oh, those holes you cut in the interior dry riser cone deck and bowl deck need to meet OSHA rules too for fall protection including material falling through to the work space below. In general, I prefer to avoid dealing with cell water tower maintenance projects.


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