To keep a grain elevator in a good state of repair, you may occasionally need to weld cracks or holes. Want to ensure you are safe whilst welding inside a grain elevator? There are a number of tips you should keep in mind:
1. Make sure there is no grain in the elevator.
Never weld inside a grain elevator when it has grain in it. Even if the elevator is only partially full, the grain can be a fire hazard and the sparks from your welding equipment are likely to ignite the grain at any point. If it isn’t possible to empty the grain elevator, even temporarily, try to address the issue from the outside of the elevator.
2. Clean dust thoroughly before working in the elevator.
In addition to removing the grain itself, you also want to remove all of the grain dust. Sweep or vacuum all parts of the grain elevator including its load spouts, distributors, hoppers and other parts. If your elevator has a special container for grain dust, make sure that is either completely empty or completely closed off from the rest of the elevator. You don’t want to risk the chance of dust migrating from the dust containment chamber to the area where you are trying to work.
3. Spray a food-grade mineral oil on the elevator.
To trap any lingering dust that you may not see, spray some mineral oil around the elevator. The mineral oil will help to weigh down the dust particles and stop them from flying around near your welding equipment. Use food grade oil so that when you load the elevator again, you don’t have to worry about any toxins getting into your grain.
4. Check air quality before entering the elevator.
Grain dust running into a welding spark isn’t the only way that a fire may start in a grain elevator. To further protect yourself, make sure that you check the air quality in the elevator before you start working in it. Ideally, you want ample amounts of oxygen so that you can breathe. If there are a lot of silo gases in the elevator, you may pass out, and if a fire then starts, you won’t be able to get out. Even if the gas or vapors in the elevator are not flammable, they still pose a serious risk to you, especially in cases of fire.
For more tips on welding inside a grain elevator, contact a professional welder, or outsource the job to a professional.