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People assume that identifying and addressing rack damage is straightforward. All you do is spot a damaged pallet rack and then go about repairing or replacing it, right? In an ideal world, that would be the case.

However, damage occurs at different levels, and knowing which rack needs repairing or replacing can be quite challenging. For that reason, understanding the types of damage is vital for saving time and money!

With that being said, here is how you can determine if your pallet rack has been damaged and needs attention:

1. Follow the 123 Rule

This rule is based on the degrees of deflection. If what you find exceeds the number, you need to address the issue. For 1, it would be 1/8 of an inch for frontal column deformation. For 2, it would be 2/8 of an inch for lateral column deflection. Finally, for 3, it would be 3/8 of an inch for deformation on the brace. Remember this rule when inspecting your pallet racks to know whether they need fixing.

2. Check for brace deflections

One of the places you can check for damages is in the pallet rack’s horizontal or diagonal braces. These braces are designed to stabilize and strengthen the rack, and any problems here will hurt its structural integrity. One damaged rack can also hurt the entire racking system’s integrity.

When applying the 123 rule, you will be looking for a 3/8 of an inch deflection within a span of 40 inches. If deflections appear, the rack needs to be fixed.

3. Identify any twisted columns

The columns are responsible for carrying the load placed on the rack. Any problems here will reduce its maximum capacity. It will not handle as heavy of a load as it used to.

If you notice any twisting in the columns, this means that the rack cannot hold as much weight. This can lead to collapse, massive property damage, severe injuries, and even death. If you notice any signs of twisted columns, it needs to be fixed right away.

4. Look for upright deflections

There are two types of upright deflections you need to watch out for: frontal and lateral upright deflections.

With frontal upright deflections, you will be looking for 1/8 of an inch deflection within 40 inches. Along with that, you should be looking at other damage in the upright, such as cracks, corrosion, and the like.

With lateral upright deflections, you need to look for 2/8 of an inch deflection within 40 inches. Again, look for other signs of damage. If you find significant damage to your frontal and lateral uprights and a deflection higher than the 123 rule, fix the rack.


Overall, following the 123 rule and inspecting the rack for any other types of damage, you can easily tell whether a rack can still do its job. If it fails the 123 rule’s standards, it needs to be repaired or replaced. That being said, if you are unsure about a rack’s integrity or condition, it is always better to have it inspected by a professional. This way, you can be 100% sure about the state of the rack.

JL Texas Pallets & Logistics is a pallet and crate specialist offering high-grade pallets, crates solutions, and more for small businesses. If you are looking for quality wooden pallets in Texas, check out what we have to offer!