Chimney Smokestack inspection Visual inspection of the stack

Repairing or Taking Apart Smokestacks in Factories

One of the most iconic aspects of a factory or other industrial building may be its smokestacks. These tall, industrial chimneys are known for emitting smoke and other emissions day and night, and a factory or plant may have several of them at once on the same building. But while these smokestacks are merely a passing sight for most Americans driving by, for factory owners a smokestack is an important piece of hardware to take care of. This ranges from such efforts as commercial chimney inspection to smokestack demolition and inspections. In fact, in some cases piecemeal smokestack dismantlement may be required, and piecemeal smokestack dismantlement is something to leave to professionals. What might be found inside a smokestack that calls for inspection or even piecemeal smokestack dismantlement? Given their industrial scale of work, a factory’s smokestack will have much more than bats or raccoons to worry about.

On Smokestacks

One may first consider the use of smokestacks and what modern American smokestacks are like. Smokestacks have been in use since the Industrial Revolution and that continues to today, where factories, refineries, power plants, and more are using them across the developed world. In the United States, smokestacks are often quite tall. In fact, Utah’s tallest man-made structure is not a skyscraper or a radio tower, but a smokestack at the Kennecott smelter. This smokestack, built back in 1974, stands an impressive 1,215 feet tall and some 177 feet across. And it’s not an oddity, either. Studies done by the EPA and the Government Accountability Office show that in the last four years, many more smokestacks taller than 500 feet have been built, more than ever.

Smokestacks are taller than ever, and that calls for precautions. Low-flying aircraft must be careful to not hit them, and to make collisions less likely, smokestacks tend to have distinctive lights on them that shine at night. Such lights may be red, blue, green, or even plain white, but the idea is the same: alert aircraft pilots to the smokestack’s presence and height to prevent a collision. Other tall structures such as radio towers and tall power line supports also have such lights for a similar reason. In the case of smokestacks in particular, the smoke itself might obscure lights found at the very top, so these lights tend to be placed five to 10 feet below the smokestack’s top and may be found further along the body as well. This ensures that smoke won’t obscure them.

Like with other pieces of industrial hardware, smokestacks are subjected to regular inspections to ensure that they are not malfunctioning or in danger of failing. A clogged or damaged smokestack might be unable to pass smoke through, and that would mean flooding the work site with harmful smoke that may injure or even kill workers through exposure. A number of safety firms and regulations are in place to ensure that all work sites are a safe place to be, and this includes, among others, the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Regulations in 2001. This is responsible for all work that is done in relation to confined spaces, and a smokestack certainly qualifies as one. This includes regular inspections of smokestacks to check for clogs, damaged hardware, and more. For example, a factory’s manager will have binocular inspections done once per year for the smokestacks, and full-height interior and exterior hands-on inspections should be done once every three years.

Piecemeal Smokestack Dismantlement

A factory owner may hire and consult chimney experts so that piecemeal smokestack dismantlement can be done safely and correctly. This includes factoring in the smokestack’s height and construction materials, and possibly even other materials found nearby at the building. Such piecemeal smokestack dismantlement may be useful if the chimney is too large to safely destroy all at once, or if there are nearby residential areas that would be harmed by total, all-at-once smokestack destruction. When work starts, contractors will take apart the chimney brick by brick or with sawed-off chunks of concrete, not unlike taking apart a puzzle piece by piece. This is a great option if simply using explosives would cause a massive chimney to fall on something and cause extensive collateral damage.

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