PlasTech Services Inc.
How to Maintain and Repair FRP Tanks and Pipes
Updated: Nov 11, 2022
FRP tanks, known as Fiberglass Reinforced Tanks, are high-strength, cost-effective, lightweight, reliable, strong, and highly corrosion-resistant. They can also withstand high-temperature chemicals, which makes them ideal for chemical processing. As a cost-effective investment, they are a top choice for the industrial industry, from pulp and paper mills to chemical plants.
Understanding the tips and tricks for maintaining and repairing FRP tanks and Pipes can make the difference between a tank lasting 5-10 years to 30+. FRP Tanks are composite materials of varying thicknesses (Resin / Epoxy-Resin, Fiberglass Mat, Wax coating, etc.
What causes areas of failure in FRP Tanks?
Air pockets are the enemy of the FRP Tank manufacturing process. If not rolled out properly, air can become trapped and lead to a partially filled or empty space, e.g., voids, in the finished laminate. Voids lead to leaks and cracks that need to be repaired.
Voids can be caused by the viscosity of the resin (i.e., the thickness of liquids), poor mixing process, inaccurate cure temperature, and insufficient reinforcement compaction to remove their air bubbles before curing.
FRP Tanks can lose their hardness, stiffness, and toughness from one air pocket, but we can easily repair these defects.
How can I prevent UV Damage to my FRP Tank?
FRP structures exposed to extended periods of ultraviolet light can not only cause the structure to fade but expose the fibers and corrode the FRP's ability to resist chemicals. This is known as Fiber Blooming.
As time passes, the resin breaks down and exposes the glass fibers within. As a result, the surface texture changes and reduces chemical resistance.
You can prevent UV damage by applying a UV-resistant gel coat to protect the structure from damaging rays. If the tank is located inside a building, a gel coat may not be necessary, but if the Tank is exposed to UV through windows, a gel coat may be required.
How do I respond to a lining failure inside my FRP Tank?
Over time, chemicals stored inside the fiber-reinforced tank will corrode wax layer (a protective coating for additional chemical resistance) and eventually cause the inner lining to fail. The inner lining can bubble, crack, shrink, delaminate, and scratch. These areas of failure will need to be ground down and patched. In many cases, a full reline of the tank will be necessary.
These tank failures will allow the chemicals to permeate the corrosion barrier into the structure of the tank or pipe and lead to leaking. This is why secondary containment is critical when dealing with harsh chemicals. Furthermore, high temperatures can cause the laminate to soften and lose its rigidity, thus becoming prone to erosion and damage, which will break down over time.
Before performing a tank reline, it's vital to assess the following: - What chemical is being stored inside the tank?
- What temperature will the tanks be stored at?
- Have I emptied the tank of its contents and cleaned it in preparation for inspection and repair work?
- Have I performed an adhesion or pull test with my materials to ensure a proper bond?
After answering these questions, the tank will need to have the damaged material removed, the surface sanded and ground, application of the glass reinforcement and resin, followed by a post-cure wax coating.
Extending the Life of FRP Tanks and Pipes
Fiberglass Tanks and Piping are low-maintenance and dependable solutions, but they do require maintenance. Identifying and repairing early failures and help avoid spills, leaks, and structural failures.
Our suggestion is to perform routine maintenance to maximize performance. What should you look for when inspecting a Fiberglass Tank?
Extensive cracking or crazing
Lack of "shine" on Fiberglass (e.g., losing wax coating)
Cracks and leaks around flanges and metal supports/hangers
Buildup of crystals
Discoloration in Fiberglass lining
Excessive wear on flanges
Blistering or bubbles on pipes or tank surfaces
Joints or elbows that are discolored or cracked
Don't know much about Fiberglass? We can help. Our project estimators will happily provide an inspection and free, no-obligation quote for your fiberglass tank or piping.
Request an inspection or free quote by calling 410-737-4700 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the services we offer, visit our fiberglass services page at https://www.plastechservices.com/fiberglass-services