Q?What about grain silo maintenance?

Since grain silos are made from galvanized steel many individuals think that they will last forever. While it is true that they will provide quality storage for grain 15, 20, or more years, periodic inspections and maintenance can add additional usable life to the silos.

The biggest enemies of galvanized steel are things that attack the zinc coating causing the steel to rust. Painted overhead conveyors, downspouts etc., often start losing the paint and begin rusting after a few short years. If the rust goes unchecked it will drop to the silo roof and start attacking the roof panels. Proper maintenance dictates that we paint the affected areas to keep rust from starting.

The other area that often starts rusting at an early stage is at the base of the bin, when spoiled grain isn’t removed. If the bin isn’t properly sealed at the base, moisture will get into the grain and start spoilage. This creates a condition that starts rust. The spoiled grain must all be removed and if rust has started to attack the sheets, they must be wire brushed and painted with a quality paint to stop the rusting.

As individuals are working around the silo site they should be alert to potential problems such as:

Missing bolts

Make sure there are no bolts missing. If some are missing a determination must be made as to whether the bolts were left out at construction or have failed. This should be done very quickly and new bolts installed immediately.


Casually observe the vertical line of the stiffeners. If they show some signs of bulging, corrective action may be required. Stiffeners are designed to take the vertical load associated with the grain and must be truly vertical to carry this load. When they are not in a true vertical position overloads can occur which could cause failure. If the bulging is severe some sheets and stiffeners may need to be replaced.

Ladder rungs and Safety cage

These areas must be closely monitored. Rust is the biggest factor to check for. If rust is evident, new parts should be installed.


The concrete foundation and anchoring system is essential to having a silo last a long time. If the concrete starts breaking away from the anchor bolts it should be repaired immediately. The anchoring system keeps the silo wall from shifting during loading and unloading and keeps the silo in place during high winds when there is no grain in the silo.

Casual observations may show something that just does not look right. When this occurs, call the silo manufacturer or a qualified person to describe what you see. It may turn out to be nothing, but it is better to ask and have nothing wrong than to not ask and have a major failure.

Proper silo maintenance also provides quality grain storage. If spoilage occurs due to improper care of the silo, it can lead to unloading problems and start deterioration of the steel.

Proper unloading is a must to maintain the integrity of the silo. Silos are designed to be center filled and center unloaded. Trying to unload from an intermediate well before all the grain has formed a funnel all the way to the floor at the center well is sure to cause a failure.

Using common sense and on-site observations around the silo will tell you if any problems are starting to occur. When observations indicate problems are developing immediate attention to correct the problem will ensure a silo that will provide many years of quality grain storage.