The high points of repainting water storage tanks

 by Davies Hood, Executive VP, Induron Coatings

Helping engineers, owners and contractors develop specifications for repainting water storage tanks is a big part of the service we offer here at Induron Coatings. In this month’s MP Materials Performance, a NACE publication, there is an excellent article by Robert Boswell of Kleinfelder Central in Austin, TX, titled “Specifying Water Tank Rehab.” In an interview format, Boswell describes many of the important but often overlooked aspects of repainting existing tanks.

For example, he believes it is essential that funding for the project and the owner’s expectations match. Additionally, the consideration for the length of time a contract should take before the owner needs to put the tank back in service is yet another factor that oftentimes is overlooked.

A couple of interesting aspects to the timing issue not mentioned in this article are colder temperatures and shorter days during the typical down-time for a water system.  Ultimately, colder temperatures result in slower curing of materials. Typically, the cure time after painting has to be completed before water can be put back into the tank.

One of the other outstanding points in this article is the insistence on an actual site visit by the specifier before he or she begins to write the specification. In today’s techno savvy world where everyone has a camera in their phone and can e-mail loads of pictures instantly, there is still a definite need for a personal visit. While the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, in this instance, “a picture is ONLY worth a thousand words” and in many situations 1,000 words is not quite enough.

The last point the article makes and is sometimes overlooked, is the fact that in all tank repainting projects there are several people who need to do their individual jobs correctly for the project to be considered a success. The engineer needs to write a good spec, the inspector needs to ensure that the specification is followed, and the contractor needs to follow the spec and provide professional work.

When all of these parties work together as a team, wonderful things can happen and owners end up ecstatic about their infrastructure asset. When the individuals do not work together, or even seem to work against one another, which can and does happen, there is chaos that can result in liquidated damages, hurt feelings and unsatisfied owners.

This leaves open opportunity for competitive or even alternative products, and engineers,  inspectors or contractors looking for a new line of work. In the article’s conclusion, Boswell describes “the most unusual project for which (he had) ever written a spec”.  According to Boswell, “this tank project required close communication, a team-collaborative atmosphere, and an open door/open file policy among the owner, the specifier, the engineer, the inspector, and the contractor.”

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