Water Tower Refurbishment Part 2: High Tech Coatings Extend Tower Life

July 11, 2015

In Part 1 of this story on water tower refurbishment, the author explored the steps Hooks, TX, took to prepare their water tower for refurbishment. Now, in Part 2, we’ll look at the application of high tech coatings to ensure a long service life for the water tower.

Cleaning and Coating, Inside and Out
The water tower refurbishment project was assigned to contractor Carey Gould, president of Protective Linings and Coatings in Alexander, AR, and his crew then began the huge process of blasting the 5,500 square feet of water tower, inside and out, and coating it with Induron’s epoxy products.

In Part 1 of this story on water tower refurbishment, the author explored the steps Hooks, TX, took to prepare their water tower for refurbishment. Now, in Part 2, we'll look at the application of high tech coatings to ensure a long service life for the water tower. Cleaning and Coating, Inside and Out The water tower refurbishment project was assigned to contractor Carey Gould, president of Protective Linings and Coatings in Alexander, AR, and his crew then began the huge process of blasting the 5,500 square feet of water tower, inside and out, and coating it with Induron’s epoxy products. [text_ad] “It took about two weeks to blast the water tower; we use coal slag for grit and then we blow it off so there is no dust,” explains Gould. “Next, we add a zinc primer on the outside, which dries at about 10 mils thick, and that is followed with an Induron finish coat.” He says the interior was coated first with Induron’s Cerampure TL70 primer which dries at 10 mils thickness, followed by the Cerampure PE70 white for the interior, and that dries to about 6–10 mils in film thickness. But Gould says the painting process is tricky, particularly if the weather doesn’t cooperate. “We can’t apply coating if the temperature is 5 degrees above the dew point because you’ll get condensation—the tank sweats. So we had to take readings every day.” Hicks explains that the Induron two-part product has ceramic beads embedded and that is what “gives us our claim to fame.” He adds that “the beads give it a non-ablative surface where bacteria can’t grow on it, [and] whose superior tensile strength is so impact resistant, you could hammer on it and it won’t shatter; it’s that tough.” There are challenges when painting a water tower containing drinking water that Hicks says arise “from the chlorine in the vapor zone at the high water mark where corrosion from chlorine gases occur.” “You want to use a coating that covers and cleans well so you don’t have gas getting in pin holes and voids of the coating where rust will start.” Hicks says the Induron product, unlike other epoxies, “which are known for running off an edge, and that’s where rust starts,” shrinks down as it dries to stay put, and dries at the same thickness on edges as the other surfaces. “It has great adhesion properties, which is so critical for this type of project.” Buchanan says the whole process was a huge success. “We had a diver go in when they opened the hatch afterwards, and it’s so bright you can’t see anything! During the painting, we went out and watched, and there was no overspray—the products dried so quick.” The new tower was looking so smart as it neared completion that when Gould asked if they wanted to add a logo, the town decided to add the graphic that is used on their patrol cars and other town signage. And Hooks is confident in keeping the water tower full. While much of Texas is faced with water shortages, Buchanan says they are lucky. “It’s a funny thing, we are only 130 miles east of Dallas, and they are on rationing and have had a drought for three years.” He explains they get their water from Texarkana who get it from Wright Patman Lake, a 32-square mile reservoir originally formed by the Army Corps of Engineers’ damming of the Sulphur River, “so we’ve never been short of water.” As to the future of the tower, Buchanan says, “There might be a few touch-ups here and there, but basically we should have a 20 year life with this rehab. The whole process was amazing.” 

“It took about two weeks to blast the water tower; we use coal slag for grit and then we blow it off so there is no dust,” explains Gould. “Next, we add a zinc primer on the outside, which dries at about 10 mils thick, and that is followed with an Induron finish coat.”

He says the interior was coated first with Induron’s Cerampure TL70 primer which dries at 10 mils thickness, followed by the Cerampure PE70 white for the interior, and that dries to about 6–10 mils in film thickness.

But Gould says the painting process is tricky, particularly if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

“We can’t apply coating if the temperature is 5 degrees above the dew point because you’ll get condensation—the tank sweats. So we had to take readings every day.”

Hicks explains that the Induron two-part product has ceramic beads embedded and that is what “gives us our claim to fame.” He adds that “the beads give it a non-ablative surface where bacteria can’t grow on it, [and] whose superior tensile strength is so impact resistant, you could hammer on it and it won’t shatter; it’s that tough.”

There are challenges when painting a water tower containing drinking water that Hicks says arise “from the chlorine in the vapor zone at the high water mark where corrosion from chlorine gases occur.”

“You want to use a coating that covers and cleans well so you don’t have gas getting in pin holes and voids of the coating where rust will start.”

Hicks says the Induron product, unlike other epoxies, “which are known for running off an edge, and that’s where rust starts,” shrinks down as it dries to stay put, and dries at the same thickness on edges as the other surfaces. “It has great adhesion properties, which is so critical for this type of project.”

Buchanan says the whole process was a huge success. “We had a diver go in when they opened the hatch afterwards, and it’s so bright you can’t see anything! During the painting, we went out and watched, and there was no overspray—the products dried so quick.”

The new tower was looking so smart as it neared completion that when Gould asked if they wanted to add a logo, the town decided to add the graphic that is used on their patrol cars and other town signage.

And Hooks is confident in keeping the water tower full. While much of Texas is faced with water shortages, Buchanan says they are lucky.

“It’s a funny thing, we are only 130 miles east of Dallas, and they are on rationing and have had a drought for three years.” He explains they get their water from Texarkana who get it from Wright Patman Lake, a 32-square mile reservoir originally formed by the Army Corps of Engineers’ damming of the Sulphur River, “so we’ve never been short of water.”

As to the future of the tower, Buchanan says, “There might be a few touch-ups here and there, but basically we should have a 20 year life with this rehab. The whole process was amazing.” 
About the Author

Barbara Hesselgrave

Barbara Hesselgrave is a writer specializing in environmental topics.

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