ComEd utility poles undergoing inspection, treatment in Lansing

58
A chemical mixture is applied to the base of the pole to protect it from decay. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Crews from Osmose Utilities Services have worked their way from 159th in South Holland to 188th in Lansing

by Melanie Jongsma
Inspectors from Osmose Utilities Services add a tag each time they service a utility pole. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

A tag near the base of the pole indicates the prior inspection, by a different company—in 1981. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
LANSING, Ill. (October 23, 2019) – Adrian Garcia pointed out the silver tags on a cedar utility pole near the corner of 188th and Ridgewood. Underneath the new one he had just pounded in, an older one read “OSMOSE INSP.1996.” Ideally, says Garcia, utility poles are inspected and treated every 10 years, but this particular pole had last been visited 23 years ago. Though today’s technology makes it easier to track Commonwealth Edison’s inventory of utility poles, inspecting and treating them still requires a personal visit by a crew of people.

PAID MESSAGE FROM AN ADVERTISING MEMBER —

Adrian Garcia (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Garcia is leading crews from Osmose Utilities Services, a company contracted by ComEd to inspect and treat utility poles all over the country. They begin in northern areas throughout the summer and fall, working their way south as the seasons change. They have been in Lansing for several weeks already, spending 20–40 minutes on each pole. The poles along the street are inspected and treated fairly quickly, but the process slows down when crews have to access poles that are in homeowners’ back yards, for example. Contacting the homeowner, explaining the procedure, and bringing the equipment around can double the time needed.

Inspectors look for pole defects, and they pound the pole to listen for hollow or decayed areas. In some cases, inspection will determine the entire pole needs to be replaced, but in most cases the poles can be treated to extend their health. Replacing a pole costs about four times as much as treating it.

The crew begins by removing 18 inches of dirt from around the base of the pole, and chipping the weathered wood away. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
PAID MESSAGE FROM AN ADVERTISING MEMBER —
A chemical mixture is applied to the base of the pole to protect it from decay. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The chemical mixture is wrapped with Osmoshield to prevent it from dissolving into the soil. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Holes are drilled into the pole so that the chemical mixture can also be injected. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The chemical is squirted into the drilled holes. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
After the injection, a plug is hammered into each hole. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The crew from Osmose is careful to rake back the excavated dirt and leave the area looking neat. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Garcia uploads data about each pole into a software program that tracks all tagged poles. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Most of the utility poles Garcia and his team have been treating are cedar, which is considered a premium wood because it is naturally resistant to decay and insect activity. Newer utility poles are typically some kind of pine, which is strong despite its light weight.

About Osmose Utilities Services, Inc.

Osmose is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and provides services throughout the United States, with additional offices in Buffalo, New York; Syracuse, New York; and Boston, Massachusetts.

About Commonwealth Edison

ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NASDAQ: EXC), a Fortune 100 energy company with approximately 10 million electricity and natural gas customers. ComEd powers the lives of more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population.

1 COMMENT

  1. Interesting article, you’ve solved a mystery at my house. A short while back I saw the little vehicle in my neighborhood and wondered what they were doing. My garbage can is in the alley. There were a bunch of chipped pieces of wood in the can that stunk like railroad ties! Which neighbor put these in there and why didn’t they use their own cans? The smell did not go away after a couple weeks so I sprayed household cleaner all over the inside. Problem solved. I checked the utility pole and sure enough, it’s just like the pictures above. Mystery solved.

Comments are closed.