Construction professionals who have experience building radio towers and antenna systems are intimately familiar with the errors that lead to faulty structures. If you worked on a tower project that was unable to withstand a windstorm or bear the weight of its load, you probably committed a common mistake.
In part one of this four-part article, our Miami construction attorneys explored the importance of following the manufacturer’s specifications and reinforcing a tower to survive long bouts with unpredictable winds. In part two, we will examine how overloading, improper wind speed data, and using the wrong mast can send a tower crashing to the ground.
Beware of Overloading
Overloading is arguably the most common reason why amateur tower builders fail to construct reliable towers. Although many amateurs can get away with overloading their towers since manufacturer’s specifications tend to account for unlikely and extreme conditions, it’s important to understand that overloading can pose a significant threat to a structure despite the existence of overloaded towers that have remained stable for decades. Engineers expect construction professionals to put towers through strain and duress, so they incorporate failsafes to increase long-term reliability. However, in many cases of overloading, the only thing keeping a tower from crumbling is luck.
Calculate for Local Wind Speed Ratings
Before you begin building a radio tower or antenna system, it is imperative to clarify the wind speed rating for the county you are working in. This is essential for providing the correct manufacturer’s specifications for your project. Many counties in the United States are only rated for the minimum wind speed rating of 70 MPH; however, some counties have significantly higher ratings, such as Dade County in Florida, which has a wind speed rating of 115 MPH. When you find out the wind speed rating for your county, you can use the data to set a baseline parameter for your tower. This ensures that your tower is prepared to handle even the most violent gusts of wind.
Using the Wrong Mast for the Project
Another common failure involves using stacks of medium- to large-sized HF beams which can place your mast under a tremendous amount of stress. Masts are either made from pipe or tubing. Pipe is ideal for moving liquids, but it’s not rated for strength so it’s best suited for smaller installations with a single antenna. On the other hand, tubing is crafted from carbon alloy steel and is rated for strength. For tower builders, this is the best material for the majority of projects.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.