Regularly scheduled maintenance and inspections keep your plant running optimally and provide early detection of issues that, when resolved quickly, can prevent the need for larger, more expensive repairs.
When thinking about scheduled maintenance and inspections, the first thing that comes to mind is often system equipment and components — not paint. Although a seemingly small detail, paint can have a big impact on your system’s performance.
Do you ever lie awake at night and wonder how your paint is looking? Doubtful.
Should you be inspecting the paint on your assets? Absolutely.
It is important to inspect paint on both the interior and exterior of your tanks to identify indicators of system issues that are preventable. You should be looking for corrosion and bubbling paint, paying special attention to check near the welds. Corrosion can occur when there is an energy imbalance on the surface of water tanks that are composed of refined and smelted steel and iron. As this energy imbalance occurs, additional energy is released as electrons attempting to correct the imbalance cause the metal to rust and return to a form of iron oxide. Uneven paint thicknesses can also allow corrosion to occur.
Thickness inconsistencies can occur around welds, for example. When paint integrity becomes compromised there, the corrosion needs to be ground away, and the weld needs to be repaired. This repair will likely be costly and will create a longer downtime for system operation. To prevent this happening in the first place, pay attention to the mil/micron thicknesses and paint brand specified for your vessels to prevent paint issues from developing . Paint issues can also lead to leaks, eliminating the ability of the tanks to hold water. This will likely result in system shutdown for repairs, meaning the water will need to be removed — a time consuming and costly event.
When should you be inspecting your paint? We recommend inspecting the exterior paint on your vessels any time you are near the tanks performing maintenance. The best time to perform an interior paint inspection is when you replace the materials inside the tank. To save time, you can address both interior and exterior paint issues simultaneously. If paint issues are found at some other point in time, or if a problem is detected and vessels need to be emptied, this will incur a system shut down. These repairs are often more costly than preventive measures and result in reduced production.
With new treatment systems, tanks are often constructed, blasted, and primed at a fabrication shop. The process of blasting cleans the tank surface, prepares the tank for paint, and allows paint to better adhere to the tank surface. We strongly recommend having your tanks primed at the fabrication shop with finish painting taking place at the jobsite. If the primer coat becomes chipped en route to the jobsite, it should be touched up before the rest of the painting is done.
Loading or filling the asset is another occasion that can impact your paint’s integrity. If your system uses gravel supports, dumping materials into your tanks can chip the interior paint, compromising paint thickness. We recommend placing new materials into your vessel by hand or filling your vessel with water first, then adding the materials, allowing them to safely float to the bottom before draining your vessel of the water. Chemical and brine feeds can also affect your paint. If your paint thickness has become uneven or if the wrong protective system was chosen, chlorine additions upstream or brine use during a regeneration stage can erode the interior paint, with the potential to cause costly damage to your system.
Although it may seem like a simple selection, the paint for your treatment system should be chosen, applied, and maintained carefully. Taking the time to consider the paint up front can help avoid costly repairs down the line.
About the Authors
Shannon Swanson is marketing communications associate with U.S. Water. Swanson specializes in external communications, working with department stakeholders in several sectors throughout the company to create content for various industries for publication on numerous marketing channels. She holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Cloud State University.
Doug Reeves, PMP, is director of Field Services at U.S. Water with the responsibility of managing the Field Service department. Reeves has more than 23 years of water and wastewater experience. Beginning his career as a field service technician, he has done everything from managing projects to traveling to performing start-ups and commissioning of water treatment plants. Reeves holds an associate’s degree from Joliet Junior College in Electrical and Automated Systems. For more information, contact: U.S. Water, www.uswaterservices.com/company/contact-us