May 27, 2014 | by Meg Stout | Engineering + Technology, Wind Resource Assessment

drew-lepple_60mInstall-web2.jpg Drew Lepple helps install a Renewable NRG Systems 60m XHD TallTower™.

Renewable NRG Systems tilt-up towers are built to withstand extreme weather conditions, from ice storms, to marine climates, to extreme heat. With proper maintenance, they will stand for many years. Still, they need occasional TLC to sustain top performance. Since spring is an ideal time to inspect your tower, I spoke with Drew Lepple to get answers to the most frequently-asked maintenance questions.

Drew is one of our resident technical support specialists, with over eight years of experience in installing tilt-up towers.

1. What is the maintenance schedule for tilt-up towers?

Drew: After your tower is first installed, we recommend returning a couple of weeks later to ensure that everything looks okay. Following that, it’s best to visit the site at six-month intervals. Keep in mind, however, that if a major weather event has passed through—like hurricane force winds or an ice storm—it’s important to visit your tower as soon as possible to check for damage.

2. Why is spring a good time for maintenance?

Drew: Spring is an ideal time to visit your site for two reasons:

    • It’s generally easier to access the site in colder regions once the snow melts.
    • Winter differs across regions, but in general, it tends to be the harshest season—with cooler temperatures, frequent storms, and often heavy icing. Spring is a great time to check for issues that may have cropped up in the colder months. For example, icing on guy wires can stretch them out and alter the tension.

3. What should be checked during site visits?

Drew: Always inspect guy wires, verify that the tower is “still in column” (i.e. standing straight with no bends), and examine the anchors to make sure they haven’t moved.

You should be able to visually determine if the anchor has been yanked or moved out of the stone or ground. If this is the case, it means that the guy wire tension has changed and you will need to reset or readjust it.

Finally, check the base plate to make sure nothing has shifted on the ground underneath it. This is very rare, but it can happen.

4. What if I haven’t visited the site for a long period of time?

Drew: If it has been a couple of years since you visited the site, be sure to check for rust on the guy wires, anchors, and wire rope clips.

5. What tools will I need?

Drew: It all depends on the tower. Refer to this document for full details: Tower Maintenance Checklist.

In addition, always bring items for the other components of your system, such as an extra data card and D batteries for your data logger. It’s a bummer to make the trip to the site and realize that you forgot to bring something necessary, like a pack of batteries.

6. What are some misconceptions about tower maintenance?

Drew: People think that once the tower’s up, it should be fine for at least two years. But it’s important to schedule regular site visits and complete any necessary maintenance to maximize performance.

7. What’s an aspect of maintenance that’s often overlooked?

Drew: Maintaining the ground around the tower is important too, and every site is different. You may need to mow around the system, remove debris, or even cut away vines that have grown up the guy wires. When prepping for a site visit, don’t forget to pack landscaping tools for grounds upkeep.

8. If we run into any problems, what should we do?

Drew: Tower maintenance is pretty simple, so having a plan and packing the right tools will minimize any potential problems. However, if any issues require further investigation or assistance (such as an anchor that has been pulled completely out of the ground), contact our tech support team at support@renewableNRGsystems.com.

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Meg Stout

Meg Stout still remembers the first time she saw a utility-scale wind turbine. Though it struck her as fascinating and otherworldly, she was too young to understand its significance. While at NRG, Meg merged her background in creative writing with her passion for renewable energy to help share the stories of the company.

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