An article excerpt from the March 1995 issue of Concrete Construction by John A. Koski
For most precasters, forms are one of their most valuable pieces of equipment. Unfortunately, despite the fact that they are a capital asset sometimes worth tens of thousands of dollars, they often are treated with little or no respect. With proper maintenance and handling, however, forms can have a working life of 25 years or more. Extending form life allows you to get maximum value from your forms investment and—perhaps more importantly—to produce products more cost-effectively and competitively. Here are some tips to help ensure that the forms you purchase will still be around well into the next century.
1. Keep hammers away from forms.
Using hammers to knock buildup from a form can produce dents and other damage. This damage makes it more difficult to use the form the next time around. Dents in forms also can produce unwanted surface blemishes and other defects in the finished product. Instead of hammers, use scrapers to clean buildup off of forms. It may take longer, but the payback will come in longer form life and less frequent form replacement.
2. Handle forms carefully.
When forms are set into place and removed, make sure they are handled with care. Don’t allow crane operators to apply excessive force to break forms loose. Doing so can permanently twist or warp a form or cause welds to crack or break. Forms should not be thrown down when removed or haphazardly stacked. The reward for proper handling goes beyond extended form life; it also is seen in decreased setup time when the forms are reused and assemble easily without workers having to fight to get the form sections to line up properly.
3. Clean forms without delay.
Forms should be cleaned as quickly as possible after they are removed, while the concrete is still green. Waiting to clean forms allows the concrete to harden, making it more difficult to remove. In addition, removing hardened concrete from forms places them at greater risk of being damaged due to the extra cleaning effort required.
4. Clean forms thoroughly.
Don’t just go over forms quickly to remove concrete from easily accessible places. Make sure that joints, seams, screed rails, corners, and other areas have been completely cleaned.
5. Don’t neglect the outside of forms.
Some producers sandblast and paint the outside of their forms every few years. The sandblasting helps to reveal any defects and makes it easier to obtain a competent repair. The painted surface, on the other hand, makes it easier to remove concrete on the form's exterior. In addition, some precasters oil the outside of their forms weekly to protect against rust and to make it easier to remove concrete.
6. Lubricate fittings and hinge points.
Neglecting to grease these areas can cause forms to wear out faster by permitting the wear caused by the metal-to-metal contact of moving or sliding parts. Lack of lubrication also allows concrete to get into these areas, further increasing abrasion and wear. In addition, built-up concrete in hinges and other areas requiring lubrication can cause the forms to misalign, resulting in twisted and warped forms.
For the full article, please visit the Concrete Construction site.
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