Wood Pole Inspection & Life Extension

Proper maintenance of wood poles (which includes inspection and application of remedial treatments) helps add many years of safe, reliable service life to your pole plant, thereby reducing unnecessary or premature replacement costs.

Osmose pole inspection programs allow you to better manage the critical factors that determine pole performance – strength, load, and cost.

The keys to a successful pole inspection program are:

  • Identifying decay & measuring defects 
  • Estimating the pole’s remaining strength to determine pass/fail - Inaccurate strength calculations can be costly.  A false fail can lead to uneccesary spending on restoration or replacement, while a false pass can create unsafe conditions that may lead to pole failures and costly damage and repairs.  Osmose technicians use StrengthCalc® software which models the cross section of decaying poles in relation to the transverse loads.  Both the severity and location of the decay in respect to wires and cables are taken into account.  StrengthCalc incorporates precise section modulus calculations to provide the percent remaining strength for weakened poles.
  • Applying effective remedial treatments to extend the safe, reliable service-life of the pole.  Remedial treatment is the key to getting the most out of your investment.  The use of remedial treatments will earn dividends via extended pole life and improved plant resiliency.  

 

Inspection Methods & Accuracy

Program Program Description Recommended Cycle % of Total Rejects Located Pole Life Extended Advantages Disadvantages
Sound & Selective Bore Poles are "sounded" with a hammer to detect internal decay. Poles that show signs of internal decay (based on the sound test) are bored to determine the location and extent of the decay. Every 2 years < 40% No
  • Locates obvious rejects quickly with a minimal investment.
  • Leaves a considerable number of undetected rejects (along with liability and risk)
  • 2-year inspection cycles are recommended
  • Reject rates remain high in future cycles
  • 100% O&M (no life-extension means no opportunity to capitalize a portion of the expense)
Sound & Bore Poles are "sounded" with a hammer to detect internal decay and poles are bored to determine the location and extent of the decay. Every 2-4 years 50%-60% No
  • Locates obvious rejects quickly with a minimal investment.
  • Leaves a considerable number of undetected rejects (along with liability and risk)
  • 2 to 4-year inspection cycles are recommended
  • Reject rates remain high in future cycles
  • 100% O&M (no life-extension means no opportunity to capitalize a portion of the expense)
Sound & Bore with Partial Excavation & Selective Treatment Poles are "sounded" with a hammer to detect internal decay and bored to determine the location and extent of decay. Poles that show signs of internal or external decay are fully excavated to a depth of 18" to determine the extent of decay at the groundline. Decayed wood is removed and a preservative paste is applied to protect the remaining sound wood. Every 4-6 years 70%-90% Only for those "select" poles that receive treatment
  • Improved inspection accuracy (because a below grade portion of pole is exposed and inspected)
  • Investment will earn some dividends via extended service of life of treated poles
  • Inspection cycle can be extended to 4-6 years
  • Though inspection accuracy is improved, it is not "best practice" and leaves 10%-30% of rejects unidentified.
  • Reject rates will be higher on future cycles than those obtainable with a full excavate program
Comprehensive Inspection (Sound, Bore, 18" Excavation, Remedial Treatment) Poles are "sounded" with a hammer to detect internal decay and bored to determine the location and extent of decay. Each pole is fully excavated to a depth of 18" to determine the extent of decay at the groundline. Decayed wood is removed and a preservative paste is applied to protect the remaining sound wood. Every 8-12 years 98% Yes
  • Most accurate inspection - locates 98% of rejects
  • Investment will earn dividends via extended pole life and improved plant resiliency
  • Because asset life is extended, owners may choose to capitalize all or a portion of the expense
  • Inspection cycle can be extended to 8-12 years
  • Increased initial investment
  • May take longer to inspect entire system

 

You can learn more about the pole inspection and treatment process in this video which details all 18 steps of the comprehensive inspection process.

 

Osmose can help you optimize your life-extension investments by matching your program objectives with an appropriate inspection method. 

To learn more, call your local Osmose professional.  Not sure who your local professional is?  Email poleinfo@osmose.com to find out.