The Importance of a Structurally Sound Grain Bin


As you drive through the Midwest, you will see tall, silver, cylinder-like bins on most farms. These built structures are called grain bins. The purpose of a grain bin is to store corn, wheat, oats, and other grains for agricultural needs, human intake, and fuel use. It’s important that farmers keep their produce dry, away from insects, and at the right temperature for however long they’re planning to store it. With that said, having a strongly built grain bin is crucial for farmers everywhere. Before a grain bin can be built, a foundation should be installed to ensure the grain bin will be structurally supported. If the foundation can’t support the grain bin, all sorts of issues can happen including the grain bin collapsing entirely.

One of the facts of farm life is that soil volume decreases (also known as primary consolidation), and settlement occurs, which can cause grain bin failure. Foundation issues usually occur when the ground underneath the grain bin isn’t packed down enough. Before the grain bin is installed, the ground needs to be well-compressed, preventing it from shifting. Once the ground is packed down, the foundation and concrete can be applied. However, if both aren’t applied correctly, it may begin to crack or bend at a very quick pace. The most common signs of failure are cracks in the concrete and foundation, shifted foundation, heaving, or the grain pin pulling away from the foundation. 

So what causes soil to do this?

When soil volume decreases, water slowly escapes from the gaps between soil particles causing them to move together. As these particles move closer, floors drop and become unbalanced. The grain sweeper, a helper that transports grain up from the floor, can also get severely damaged in this process. Kirk Roberts, a Virginia-based commercial foundation repair contractor, restored a grain bin in Maryland, and said: “Once they removed the hundreds of thousands of bushels of grain, we found the floor had dropped some three inches in one section of the bin leaving a large pocket of grain out of reach of the bin sweeper.” Due to the issue, Kirk and his crew had to get creative.

How can we prevent it?

From Kirk’s experience, and since this is a common problem on farms throughout the country, there are ways to prevent this from happening and to solve it if it does. The combination of heavy concrete and soil destruction can lead to unbalanced surfaces, but with the assistance of our PolyLevel injection foam, we can repair and prevent this from happening down the road. Our PolyLevel is a concrete repair product that we inject underneath cracked concrete to fill the gaps and stabilize the surface. Since it’s a speedy repair, cost-effective, and allows farmers to use the facility right away after application, PolyLevel is a solid investment for problems like this. In other cases, if the grain bin foundation is settling, a useful solution is our push pier foundation repair system. To install a push pier system, soil is removed from the foundation footing and a steel bracket is positioned below the footing. From that point, the piers are driven through the bracket until it hits solid rock that underlies the soil called bedrock. The grain bin is then carefully placed and permanently stabilized to its normal position. One push pier can hold up to 40,000 pounds, and the grain bin diameter will determine how many push piers are needed.

What can American Waterworks do for you?

We’re privileged to be your local professionals in foundation problems and concrete lifting and repair. If you or someone you know is experiencing problems like this, it’s important to take care of it right away before it gets any worse. Call American Waterworks today to schedule your free estimate, or click the link so we can contact you: American Waterworks Free Estimate


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