Avoid Expensive Refractory Repairs with Proper Maintenance

Like everything else in the factory environment, concrete surfaces need routine maintenance. That’s doubly true for refractory concrete, which has the burdensome task of protecting heating elements from thermal damage and corrosion. Heat-processing equipment needs refractory protection to function safely and efficiently, so it only makes sense to count refractory concrete maintenance among your plant’s essential maintenance tasks.

But what exactly does refractory concrete care entail? And how can factories and manufacturing plants in Indiana keep up on refractory maintenance? Here’s a look at how to approach refractory care and what you’re up against in terms of wear.

What’s grating on refractories?

To understand the care required to maintain refractories, we first need to look at what they’re up against—namely, extreme temperatures, long exposure times, volatile elements and more:

  • Temperature: Refractories face operating temperatures of up to 3000 degrees.
  • Exposure: Heat-processing equipment may run for tens of hours at a time.
  • Elements: Refractories often face corrosive gases, slag and other caustic elements.
  • Operator: Heat control settings and thermal shock can take a toll on refractories.

Simply put, refractories face the harshest, most demanding environments and elements. To continue withstanding them, they need regular maintenance. Without proper care, refractories will wear out faster, demanding expensive repairs that cause downtime to essential heat-processing functions in a plant.

Caring for refractories

Good refractory concrete maintenance is all about minimizing duress. If heat equipment operators pay mind to the role of refractories, they’ll better preserve the concrete against excessive degradation. Here are a few ways to protect and maintain refractories:

  • Reduce thermal shock: Adhering to proper heat-up and cool-down standards will reduce the thermal shock refractories suffer. Sufficient time to adapt to changing temperature will help the concrete structure preserve its integrity and prevent faults from developing.
  • Crack tending: If you notice cracks in your refractory structure at high heat, don’t be alarmed. These are good cracks—part of the natural expansion of the concrete. Filling them is a bad idea and can result in structural weakness and bulging when the concrete next contracts after cooldown.
  • Debris removal: Simply removing debris from the lining and any steel parts of the refractory enclosure is an easy way to reduce the burden on refractory structures. This debris will retain heat and can lead to the formation of hotspots, which subject the concrete to undue stress in specific areas.

It’s also a smart idea to have a refractory specialist in Indiana inspect and service your concrete at regular intervals, based on the size and age of the structure. This may facilitate repairs and patches where needed, reducing the strain on a structure and avoiding bigger, costlier repairs.

Overall, refractories, like anything else in the factory, benefit from routine care and maintenance. They’re subject to harsh elements and demanding duties, which makes preventing failures extremely important. The more you can do to thwart a major fault from developing, the more worthwhile it is to take the time to perform maintenance. Sometimes, it’s as simple as paying attention!

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