By Caroline Watson, Engineering Coordinator with STEALTH® Concealment Solutions, Inc.
Remember all of the zoning hoops you had to jump through to get that site permitted? And then there were the NIMBY’s, coming at you with all sorts of worries and rumors. So given how hard you worked to get it built, why let any site fall into disrepair and invite all that scrutiny again? That’s just bad for business. And it’s why we are advocating for a new focus on site maintenance.
The CTIA estimates that there are a quarter million cell towers in the US. With the data hungry public demanding more signal, the industry has been focused largely on new builds, rather than maintaining existing sites. That strategy makes no business sense. Maintenance is the easiest, most cost effective way to keep neighbors, landlords, municipalities, carriers and their customers happy. In fact, we find that a track record of good maintenance on existing sites can help permit-seekers avoid zoning pitfalls. Why does maintenance matter? Consider the role of paint. Obviously it is used to help blend concealments with their surroundings, but it also acts as a UV barrier and protects building materials.
To avoid issues with panel delamination and cracking, check finishes regularly, and repaint them at the first sign of wear.
Are you going to visit a site to add or switch equipment out? Arrive prepared:
- Have the drawings you need to ensure that the site was installed correctly in the first place.
- Drawings also tell you how to put it back together, post inspection.
- Bring touch-up paint and replacement bolts. The extra few minutes spent on maintenance could pay dividends in the long term.
- Ask locals if there have been any significant weather events since your last visit or installation. Tornado activity, periods of intense heat or cold, or severe snowstorms mean a check-up is in order.
- Start climbing. Damage may not be visible from the ground, and a trip up to tighten bolts, examine antenna mounting, verify or secure water tightness is well worth it.
- Extra attention should be paid to finishes in climates with four seasons and in the sun-drenched South.
And here’s a final bit of advice: If the concealment company or general contractor that supplied/installed the concealment is no longer in business, plan an inspection as quickly as possible. The companies won’t be there to honor your warranty or to provide replacements. Keeping these sites up to spec or reworking to meet spec is the cheapest insurance you can buy.
So really, I have to ask again: why wouldn’t you want to get the most for your money and keep your concealment maintained? To take our self-assessment, visit our website.