What is Rust?
Rust is another name for iron oxide, which occurs when iron or an alloy that contains iron, like steel, is exposed to oxygen & moisture for a long period of time. Over time, the oxygen combines with the metal at an atomic level, forming a new compound called an oxide and weakening the bonds of the metal itself. Only iron or alloys that contain iron can rust, but other metals can corrode in a similar way.
How will rust damage my home?
Rust itself can take up to seven times more space than the steel its replacing, so it can cause significant structural damage. Whether it is columns pushing brickwork, lintels rusting above frames, or reinforcing steel rusting out within concrete, rust has the potential to cause significant damage. Rust will also corrode the metal it is attacking, making the structure brittle & crumbly. If sodium is present, as is the case with saltwater, corrosion is likely to occur more quickly. This is why homes located close to the sea are more likely to be affected by rust.
How can I stop rust?
Rust often occurs because of constant moisture applied to the surface. By conducting regular inspections of your property by a suitably qualified inspector the likelihood of undetected leaks or moisture damage is minimised.
Can I remove rust once it has occurred?
If rust has already occurred to an extent that the structural integrity of the metal has not yet been compromised, the rust may be cleaned off & a new protective coating applied. Rust formation cannot be stopped easily, but metals can be treated to resist the most damaging effects. Water-resistant paints, preventative coatings or other chemical barriers protect some metals, although prevention by removal of the moisture source should always be the first option.
Natural ways of rust removal such as white vinegar, baking soda or steel wool have been recommended in the past with mixed results. Typically a form of cleaner containing acid will be required. Ensure that all labels are read & PPE is worn if using any products containing chemicals. Once removal is achieved some products currently on the market will guarantee protection from rust for up to 10 years. Be sure to read the fine print on these warranties and coat all areas of the affected steel, as only the smallest of area needs exposure to form rust on its surface.