When to check your nuts
OK, so a pithy headline can get anybody’s attention, but when it comes to tower maintenance, it really is about nuts and bolts.
Towers are like bridges – they all need maintenance, but unless they break or are visible, they tend to get neglected. Oh, sure, the big ones, the ones with lights and alarms get some attention, but when was the last time you checked the ones that don’t get painted or lit? Would you be worried if the nuts at the base of your tower were like the ones in this video??
OK – so, not fair; this was a new tower. BUT we discovered this during our final punch list. This tower was lighted, and had all antennas and microwave dishes installed. In fact all the civil was completed. We only needed to install electronics at the site.
However, this photo is not of a new tower, but one that is up. Notice the concrete? Over time, everything fatigues, even concrete and steel. The forces of heating and cooling naturally work parts loose, and if not checked regularly, could lead to a major catastrophe. The crack in the concrete was found while adding antennas to this tower. The crack leads right to one of the anchor bolts. This is a serious repair.
As part of this post, I went out to Rohn, Sabre, and Valmont to try and find the recommended maintenance intervals and practice. Unfortunately, my search of their respective web sites was not fruitful. I’m sure an email or phone call to them with the model number of your installation would get you quick results.
The point here is to make sure that you include tower inspections and routine maintenance in your budget. I know things are tight from a fiscal perspective, but like your communications system, a minor failure can multiply, and over time become a real issue. And we all know that it’s during the critical times that systems tend to break down.