Moisture, even in small amounts, can wreak havoc on stored bulk material. Water causes agricultural products – including grain, corn, pulses, cereals, wheat, corn cobs and feed – to spoil more quickly. Moisture is also known to cause clumping and accelerate the growth of mold and mildew.
Commercial agricultural operations, including fertilizer distributors and grain elevators, have long used flat storage buildings to protect valuable bulk material and prevent dampness. Flat grain storage buildings are typically subject to two sources of moisture: leaks and condensation. Legacy buildings, custom designed around operational needs, are a drier solution for short-term or long-term storage.
Why Fabric Buildings Don’t Leak
Fabric buildings are designed as a watertight solution for storing fertilizer and bulk grains. The flexible fabric panels making up the roof are tightly welded together with no cracks for water to invade.
Legacy’s patented attachment system includes separate panels of fabric that are attached the building frame. The frame attachment is permanent and created without penetrations for nails or bolts (a common source of leaks in steel-framed buildings).
The patented attachment system was also designed using heavy-duty half-inch bolts with a washer to attach the keder rail to the flange and then covering the whole system with a sheet of fabric. This eliminates the reliance on smaller tek screws and eliminates another potential source of roof failure.
Another common cause of holes in the roof? Rust. Constant exposure to rain, snow and harsh UV rays means steel roof panels will eventually succumb to corrosion – causing tiny holes, thinning and other weak points that let water in, hastening the corrosion problem and leading to even more leaks. Fabric is completely inert to corrosion, stopping this source of leaks before it starts.
Some agricultural products, including fertilizer, are inherently corrosive. Building operators in corrosive industries must also prevent corrosion from originating inside the building.
With rigid steel frames, steel rods as secondary bracing members and an optional interior liner, Legacy buildings are designed to prevent corrosion originating inside the building. Check out a case study.
Fabric Prevents Condensation in Storage Buildings
Condensation occurs when warm, moist air comes in contact with cooler air. Indoor condensation means beads of water build up on the walls and roof and eventually drip down – damaging whatever is stored below.
Legacy buildings naturally fight condensation by using climate-responsive fabric cladding. Passive or powered ventilation systems also prevent condensation by keeping cool, fresh air moving in the building at all times.
Fabric is climate-responsive, which means it is non-conductive and better maintains a consistent interior air temperature. Rather than conducting and magnifying the outside conditions (leading to rapid temperature changes inside and a condensation build-up), fabric keeps the building at a more moderate temperature.
The moderate temperature of fabric buildings means more comfortable conditions inside the building – even without insulation and a climate-control system, it naturally feels about 10 degrees warmer on cold days and about 20 degrees cooler on hot days. And of course, the temperature difference prevents condensation.
Ventilation also keeps the building drier. A typical grain or fertilizer storage building uses a gravity-based passive ventilation system.
Passive ventilation systems combine intake at the eaves and exhaust at the peak. Using the natural flow of gravity, the overhangs suck fresh air into the building, closer to the level of stored material. As the air becomes warmer, it flows to the peak of the building, where it is released via roof vents.
When it comes to fertilizer or crops, the storage environment matters. Making changes to create drier conditions will pay off in improved quality and less time lost due to dealing with corrosion and other damage.