Fight Corrosion With These 5 Tips

rusty scaffold in a construction siteUnderstanding the potential for corrosion is as integral to any building project as knowing the load capabilities of your materials. Outdoor endeavors, particularly those in wet or moist climates, have an increased susceptibility to rust and rot. It’s important to be aware of and keep in mind the corrosive threats that may affect the longevity of your project or structure. Choosing anchors, fasteners, and connectors which will best mitigate those risks is a good habit to adopt and follow.


1. Evaluate exposure levels in the environment


Where are you building? An interior dry space or an outdoor location? Elevated moisture levels in outdoor environments are more corrosive to steel than interior spaces. This includes projects along a waterfront or near large bodies of water—which are vulnerable to the chlorides and salt of marine water.


2. Are you building in an industrial zone?


Industrial areas are rife with fumes, chemicals, fertilizers, and soils, all of which could affect your construction project. The chemicals and toxins present in any building environment can lead to corrosion of structural hardware. Especially so if those chemicals come into direct contact with the materials.


3. Assess materials being fastened


Lumber commonly undergoes chemical treatment in order to extend its longevity and to aid in the prevention of wood rot. So if you’re building materials include lumber treated with chemical preservatives or fire-retardants, your hardware is at a higher risk for corrosion (red rust). In wet environments, the high retention of chemically treated lumber in high moisture levels adds additional corrosive risks.


A good rule of thumb to remember is that the higher the percentage of chemical treatments that remain within the material, the higher the likelihood of corrosion.


4. Select proper materials for the intended project and environment


Hardware-on-hardware contact can result in galvanic corrosion which occurs when two electrochemically dissimilar metals have contact with each other in the presence of an electrolyte (i.e. water). Do not mix metals. Instead, use metals with similar electrochemical properties and separate dissimilar metals with insulated materials. It’s also important to prevent exposure of the metals to electrolytes, which can help minimize galvanic corrosion.


5. Inspect hardware periodically


As with any building project, it is important to sporadically check materials and hardware for signs of rot, wear, or disrepair. It is especially important for outdoor, weather-exposed structures, such as decks, porches, and docks. Carefully check for loose connections, rotted wood, and red rust or any other signs of corrosion.