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Transmission Tower Maintenance: Importance of Cleaning, Coating, & General Information

transmission tower

What is a transmission tower?

The tremendous industrial demand for power brought the development of transmission towers. These economical towers are set up to transmit and receive energy. They are provided with high voltage lines and are used to support an overhead power line. The purpose of transmission towers is to support electrical conductors and ground wires. They maintain the flow of power with reliability and safety. These towers were primarily aluminum cable wrapped around steel-reinforced cores for the conduction of electricity, provision of strength and prevention of line from sagging and contamination. Transmission towers and poles are one of the most significant and most critical commercial properties of an electric company. Transmission tower maintenance is hence one of the most important tasks for an electronic or a maintenance company. This article will cover the methods and prevention related to transmission tower maintenance along with the repairs and health diagnostics methods.

The transmission lines play a key role in the transmission of energy, over the hundreds of kilometers, of the massive quantity of electricity generated by the various generating situation across the country. A direct transfer allows the power to be delivered through substations at the lowest possible line losses to different types of customers. Therefore, it is important to maintain the transmission lines in a healthy condition.

There are many methods for transmission tower maintenance used all across the world. Not all are the same, but each is unique in its way. Many parts of the transmission towers can be challenging to repair and requires extreme caution. Using the latest technologies, the engineers are creatively solving the problems related to transmission tower maintenance.

Cleaning solutions for transmission tower:

An average transmission line tends to survive 30 years but can run up to half a century if managed correctly. Maintenance can take weeks, or months depending upon the issues and diagnostics. Cleaning of insulators, which are components at the top of the tower which carries cables that convey energy, ensures that the maintenance of the transmission line is a recurring process. The operators spray them with pressurized demineralized water using a tube for extracting dust and other contaminants suspended in the air that is building up.

There are other methods of cleaning the transmission towers. Have a look at them:

1.Insulator washing

Marginal utilities are polluted by salt as salt fog condenses electrical equipment that is necessary for the consumer power supply. Insulator pollution aggressively increases, but when the insulators are dry, it doesn’t decrease the strength of the insulation. When the polluted isolators are wet, the contaminated surface of the insulator forms a conductive layer that initiates leak current. This pollution triggers are line voltage, which induces a line outage or a relay operation. In most situations, a real flashover that results in a disruption can precede several arcing times. The majority of flashover failures are volatile and take several hours to repair.

In such a situation, the line-live washing method is used to clean the transmission tower insulators to avoid malfunctioning. It is assisted by more than 15 crews and a fleet of more than 20 washer trucks. This utility takes the system out to wash and then fit it again. This may take several hours, but to avoid repeated flashovers, it is necessary to go through this process. Sometimes they also use rapid expansion methods to clean the insulators. In this process, they also replace the older insulators with the new ones.

2.Removing the ice

Transmission towers often get ice over them. The transmission lines are fitted in cold areas, where the freezing temperature leads the ice to sit on the windward side of the towers. Knowing that ice over the towers is a huge issue, the engineers have brought up a solution to this problem as well. They stop one of the operating towers to work, to avoid the condensation of the ice on the transmission line. This prevents the freezing of the ice to a limited extent. If the towers still get ice over them, the engineers increase the temperature of the transmission lines to melt and shed the ice.

3.Corrosion-free method

Corrosion also occurs on the transmission towers because of the weather or other environmental conditions. The ideal solution is to restore as early as possible the complete shock of towers and poles in the early occurrence of corrosion. Unfortunately, it is not possible in many areas because it is quite expensive. Corrosion-free paint is one of the solutions to avoid corrosion in the long term. Corrosion is considered to be a massive problem in the way of transmission tower maintenance.

4.Coating method

Transmission towers get a lot of dust particles, ice, corrosion, and other contamination over them. It is quite necessary to secure them from these polluted contents because the towers carry out humongous current within them, which can be harmful if not handled properly. The coating method is one of the safest, cheapest and most above a secure process to protect the lines from pollution and contamination. The towers should be coated with corrosion repellent paint. This not only saves the tower from corrosion but also prevents the dust particles and melted ice water to enter the insulators and disturb the functions of transmission of electricity.

5.Ground survey

Another method to avoid the transmission tower maintenance issue is the ground survey. Huge tractors are used to survey the area of transmission towers to ensure that there is no issue in the ground or on the lower side of the tower. If any problem is found, it is immediately resolved because the tractors carry much equipment to resolve the issues. Likewise, helicopters are used to survey the upper part of the transmission towers. Those helicopters contain washers, paints, and other necessary equipment for the cleaning purpose of the transmission towers.

6.Grid hardening method

Another important strategy is the grid hardening. Replacing new and stronger fire-resistant old transmission towers and power pole, replacing worn out parts, upgrade the electricity lines with synchro phasor, and other equipment that can enable operators to more quickly identify and reduce falls. Grid hardening can also include burying power lines in some cases. While undergrowth lines certainly are safer in wildfire sparking, they are neither completely safe nor suitable in every region (earthquakes, animals, and weather can reach them.)

Transmission tower maintenance plan:

There are many procedures from which we can avoid or prevent the consequences that lead the transmission towers to work slowly or rapidly maintain them.

  • First, the application of an anodic paint can repel the transmission towers from corrosion, so it is necessary these days to apply the anodic paint to the towers and coat them with it repeatedly.

  • A repeated survey of the transmission lines can also avoid any harm or malfunctioning of the tracks.

  • The development of the maintenance lines is vital for transmission tower maintenance.

  • Making a budget for the yearly maintenance of transmission lines is also essential and a vital part of the maintenance plan.

  • Hiring experienced engineers and maintenance companies for maintenance is also a part of the transmission tower maintenance plan.

Importance of transmission tower maintenance:

The cleaning and maintenance of transmission towers are necessary for its proper functioning as it enhances its efficiency for more than 20 years. The highly qualified electricity technicians and mechanics with the tremendous physical and mental strength are needed for this purpose.

The transmission towers are specifically designed to hold up in adverse weather conditions. However, cleaning and washing of transmission towers remove dirt and other pollutants from the top of the towers. This provides insulation and air-gap distance from the ground to support the high-voltage line. It prevents fault discharge from the power line that causes a short circuit and damages the components of the towers.

The external factors, such as corrosive agents, ice, wind, and ultraviolet radiation, are harmful to the structure and components of the transmission towers. Therefore, the cleaning methodology of these towers ensures its long term working.

The primary step of the cleaning tower is spraying pure water, as this prevents the accumulation of minerals on the tower. Besides, a high-pressure sprayer with small bursts is used for proper cleaning of tower equipment.

The addition of paint wear and corrosion to your service schedule for substation equipment and transformers is minimal in costs compared to the potential risk of service interruption and equipment failure. Many places may be more comfortable to examine, but most may be visual, because rain may wash roost on the sides of the machinery.

The standard aspect of maintaining equipment in service is upgrading maintenance procedures to the current standards, and existing rules should be updated periodically. This requires regular inspection and cleaning of high tension insulators, especially NCI isolators. The color will not last as long as the transformer remains.

Steel equipment and structures forming part of the substations and transmission networks must also be secured against corrosion, thus enforcing the proposed substation painting. The corrosion damage will not happen without preventive maintenance, testing, cleaning, and repainting. Another most cost-effective method to avoid further modifications to the reconstruction of the facilities is the checked, washed, and recycled substations.

Importance of regular checking, coating, and cleaning:

When adding daily wear and corrosion inspection to your maintenance program for substation systems and transformers, compared with the potential risk and service interruption and equipment failure, it is a minimal cost. Some places may be easier to inspect than others, but most of them can be done visually because rain washes the rust on the sides of the machinery. Particular attention should be paid to tops of equipment, like transmission lines, with long flat tops that catch water after the rain.

High voltage insulator cleaning should be carried out routinely, both at substations and along the transmission lines for the transmission tower maintenance. An inspection of the insulators should also be included because it will extend its life and allow visual inspections to identify possible faults and defects before they become more difficult. Many methods are available to clean them without interrupting their operation along with other substation equipment.

Substation coating must, especially for transformers and insulators, be made to prevent harmful corrosion at the first signs of rust. In substation painting, the surfaces are ready for the most important step. As a solid clean surface is required to adhere to the paint that requires sub-stationary painting needs dust, rust, and loose paint cleaning. The preparation of substation painting is substantial because it is very time-intensive and requires specialist equipment. The method of coating is much faster and more comfortable when you need to wash the surface and remove a little rust. The addition of planned time for a layer can add time to its lifespan. The maintenance program will not only corrosion from occurring but also save a lot of money with minimal efforts.

Increasing the ability to exist transmission towers or high voltage lines can lead to cheaper and more reliable electricity for more customers. It creates more significant completion in the retail electricity market, allowing electricity prices to be lower in wholesale and hence, electricity bills to customers. This ensures efficient production of any new transmission investment where it is most required and is cost-effective and of the most significant benefit to customers.

The more maintenance methods are introducing, the more revenue and employment for the people are boosting. This is also an important factor of the transmission tower maintenance that it introduces more employment chances for the unemployed people. They can join the transmission tower maintenance firms and help them to improve their tasks as early as possible. Training sessions should be provided to the engineers and newcomers for the cleaning, coating, and maintenance services of the transmission towers. They should know about the transmission towers, how they work, how they can be cleaned and different cleaning methods of transmission towers and their importance. In this era of electrification, this piece of work can generate a lot of revenue for a country and also prevent the harms of malfunctioning of the transmission towers.

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