Check to make sure bin motors grounded

Some of you will get enough of a shock this fall when you combine crops and find out they don’t measure up to what you expected. Don’t compound it by letting your grain bin deliver a real shock, one that could injure or kill you or one of your employees.

Kyle Finley operates Live Line Demo Inc., based in Alvin, Ill. He presented programs on behalf of Touchstone Energy at the 2011 Farm Progress Show. Based on his experiences in the utility industry, he has plenty of stories to share about electricity, and most of them are scary. That’s only because people become careless or try to take shortcuts.

Ground bins

One place where people can get careless over time is making sure their grain bins and the electrical equipment powering those bins are properly grounded. “We’re talking more than just a little rod running into the ground,” Finley says.

The danger is that over time, due to wear and tear, electrical wiring serving large motors for fans or heaters could become worn. If electricity comes in contact with the bin and the bin is not properly grounded, the bin can become energized with electricity, he tells farmers.

Then someone working around the bin is at risk. The best policy with all bins, even newer ones, is to make sure every electrical motor is properly grounded. It’s not an area where you want to take shortcuts.

Other cases

Grain bins aren’t the only farm structure that can become energized. Finley cites one fatal example that happened after a farmer brushed a power line with an implement. Part of the power line fell on a metal toolshed. When the farmer climbed onto the building, thinking he could just rehang the wire, he made a fatal mistake. The entire building was energized with electricity.

Buildings also need to be grounded properly, Finley notes. Whether your grain bins or toolsheds are properly grounded isn’t something that you likely lay awake at night worrying about. Finley’s message is that you ought to take the time to check to make sure they are properly grounded. Then you won’t need to worry about them.

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Play it safe: Make sure your bins are grounded properly and all wiring is still in good shape.

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Tell it like it is: Kyle Finley doesn’t mince words when he talks to farm families. Electricity is a tremendous tool, but it needs to be respected and handled carefully.

This article published in the November, 2011 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.