Wallaces Farmer

Should you repair or replace your wind-damaged grain storage bin?

Rod Swoboda

August 17, 2020

2 Min Read
Iowa grain bins blown over and other storage and handling facilities wrecked by recent windstorm.
DESTRUCTION: Grain bins were blown over and other storage and handling facilities wrecked by the recent windstorm. Rod Swoboda

The high-powered windstorm that roared across central and eastern Iowa on Aug. 10 not only flattened crops in fields, but also damaged farm buildings and grain handling facilities. It burst open grain bins filled with bushels from last year’s corn and soybean harvests, and demolished empty bins on a number of farms and at commercial grain elevators. 

Farmers and co-op elevator workers have been busy cleaning up and salvaging the spilled grain this past week. The question facing many farmers and elevator managers is whether to repair the bin damage or totally replace the storage facility. Iowa State University Extension ag engineering field specialist Shawn Shouse and ISU professor of ag engineering Dirk Maier provide the following observations and recommendations.  

Carefully inspect damage 

When steel grain bins sustain wind damage, careful inspection is needed to evaluate repair or replacement options. Inspection assistance and advice from a consulting engineer or bin manufacturer representative is the best option.  

When damage is confined to the roof, sidewall sheets or wall stiffeners of the bin, replacement of damaged materials may be feasible. Evaluation of displacement, distortion, or overloading of the remaining structure is necessary before replacing damaged steel. 

When damage has spread to the foundation or anchor components, a thorough evaluation of the foundation will be necessary. Significant damage to the foundation may warrant complete reconstruction of the bin and foundation. 

Replacement of only the bin itself must be compatible with the existing foundation design and anchoring system. Changing the diameter, height or anchor locations of the replacement bin is likely not possible without thorough foundation design confirmation. 

Evaluate overall system 

Grain handling equipment such as bucket elevators, downspouts, cross conveyors and support structures should also be inspected for damage caused by the wind or by stresses from movement of attached bin parts. 

Before making replacement decisions, consider the overall grain system design and suitability for current and future needs. While storm damage and repair are stressful and costly, it may present an opportunity for reconsidering and redesigning the entire system. Consult with an expert in grain system planning or materials on grain system layout and design from Midwest Plan Service. This website has helpful publications available.

Your ISU Extension county office also has information. Contact your ISU Extension field agricultural engineer for additional advice and answers to specific questions. 



About the Author(s)

Rod Swoboda

Rod Swoboda is a former editor of Wallaces Farmer and is now retired.

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