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Taking Down A Silo

Silos made from concrete staves and wrapped in metal bands are iconic farm structures. They’ve been around for over a century, especially on dairy farms to store feed. Some are still in use today. However, many are succumbing to age and the elements and should be taken down.

John Sisulak is the owner of Mainline Builds, a silo demolition company in southern Wisconsin. He says when the staves are compromised, it’s a good indication the silo is at the end of its useful life. This includes the condition of the base, and the roof.

"A concrete stave silo typically has an aluminum or steel roof on it. So, if the roof gets blown off, it allows moisture to kind of get down in between all the seams where the staves are put together. There will be a real, real thin layer of mortar that holds the silo together on the inside," says Sisulak. "Once that gets compromised, that has a tendency to kind of weaken the structure as a whole."

How it’s done depends on the area and the structure. If the silo is leaning and there’s nothing in the way, he says it can be pushed over with an excavator or bulldozer. However, safety is your first priority so the job is best left to a professional.

"My methods are, I start from the top and everything goes to the inside of the silo," he says. "So, there’s no risk of things falling to the ground and injuring people that may be close by or anywhere in the vicinity. It preserves lives as well as property. Usually we’ll use a fairly large boom lift, but 90% of the work is just done by hand."

After the silo is down, the concrete and the steel bands can be recycled. Many landowners repurpose the staves for landscaping.

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