Corrosion is a silent enemy that can cause irreversible damage to your construction project. It can compromise the structural integrity, safety, and aesthetics of your building. It can also lead to costly repairs, delays, and legal liabilities.
But what if you could prevent corrosion from happening in the first place? What if you could protect your investment and ensure a long-lasting and durable outcome? Read on to learn some proven strategies to prevent corrosion during the construction phase.
What Is Corrosion?
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, corrosion means “the process of a material losing its quality or strength because of a chemical reaction with its surroundings.”
Corrosion is not limited to metals; it can impact any material, and its occurrence is influenced by multiple environmental factors. These factors include moisture, oxygen, salt, chemicals, temperature, and sunlight.
Corrosion can look different depending on the material, such as rusting, pitting, cracking, blistering, scaling, or discoloration. Some of the common signs of corrosion in buildings are:
- Flaking or peeling paint
- Staining or streaking on walls or roofs
- Leaks or cracks in pipes or tanks
- Deterioration of concrete or mortar
- Loosening or breaking of fasteners or connectors
- Warping or buckling of metal components
Why Is Corrosion Prevention Important?
Corrosion prevention is not only important for aesthetic reasons but also for economic and environmental ones.
According to a report from NACE International, corrosion incurred a global cost of $2.5 trillion in 2013, equivalent to 3.4% of the global GDP.
Corrosion can have adverse effects on the environment, including:
- Increasing greenhouse gas emissions due to energy loss and inefficiency
- Generating hazardous waste and pollutants that can contaminate soil and water
- Reducing the recyclability and durability of materials
- Increasing the demand for raw materials and natural resources
Corrosion prevention is a vital strategy to enhance the sustainability and resilience of buildings.
If your building has pneumatic tube systems, corrosion prevention becomes even more important, as these systems are prone to corrosion due to exposure to various environmental factors.
Pneumatic tube systems are used in many buildings (residential or commercial) for waste disposal, mail delivery, ventilation, or other reasons.
They are convenient and efficient, but they can also corrode and damage the tubes and the containers, affecting the performance and safety of the system.
That’s why you need T-SEP, a device that can separate air and material in pneumatic tube systems. T-SEP consists of a T-shaped separator, a filter bag, and a support frame.
It prevents crevice corrosion and has many benefits, such as reducing noise, dust, and energy consumption, extending the life of the pneumatic tube system, and preventing material loss or contamination.
To learn more about how T-SEP works and how it can help you prevent corrosion in your building, visit Production Fastening Systems’ website or contact them for more information.
How Can You Prevent Corrosion During the Construction Phase?
The best time to prevent corrosion is during the construction phase when you have more control over the design, materials, and methods of your project.
Here are some strategies that you can implement to protect your building from corrosion:
1. Use Non-Corrosive or Corrosion-Resistant Materials
A good way to stop corrosion from happening is to use materials that won’t rust or corrode easily, like stainless steel, aluminum, copper, plastic, or concrete.
These materials have high resistance to chemical reactions and environmental conditions that can cause corrosion.
However, not all materials are suitable for every application or location. For example, stainless steel may be susceptible to stress corrosion cracking in chloride environments, while aluminum may corrode in alkaline environments.
Therefore, you need to consider the environmental severity zones and micro-environments of your project site when selecting materials.
2. Apply Coatings or Barriers
Another effective way to prevent corrosion is to apply coatings or barriers that can isolate the material from its corrosive environment. These coatings or barriers can be organic (such as paint, plastic, or powder) or inorganic (such as zinc, aluminum, or chromium).
Coatings or barriers work by creating a physical layer that prevents moisture, oxygen, salt, or chemicals from reaching the material surface. However, coatings or barriers can also be damaged by mechanical abrasion, UV radiation, thermal expansion, or chemical attack.
Remember to only select coatings or barriers that are compatible with the material and the environment.
3. Implement Cathodic Protection
Another advanced way to prevent corrosion is to implement cathodic protection (CP), which is a technique that uses an external electric current to make the material more resistant to corrosion.
CP works by converting the material from an anode (where corrosion occurs) to a cathode (where corrosion does not occur).
CP can be classified into two categories: anode CP, which uses sacrificial metals, and current CP, which applies external voltage.
Sacrificial anode CP uses a more reactive metal (such as zinc) as an anode that corrodes instead of the material. Impressed current CP uses an external power source (such as a battery) to apply a negative charge to the material.
CP is commonly used for underground or submerged structures, such as pipelines, tanks, bridges, piers, or wharfs. However, CP requires careful design, installation, and maintenance to ensure its effectiveness and safety.
4. Design for Durability
Design your building for durability and longevity. This means considering how your building will perform under different environmental conditions and how you can minimize the exposure and impact of corrosive agents.
Some of the design considerations for durability are:
- Providing adequate drainage and ventilation to prevent moisture accumulation
- Avoiding sharp corners and edges that can cause stress concentration
- Providing sufficient clearance and access for inspection and maintenance
- Using compatible materials and fasteners that do not cause galvanic corrosion
- Providing adequate protection and insulation for electrical and mechanical components
- Using corrosion inhibitors or additives in concrete or mortar
5. Follow quality standards and best practices
Finally, the most essential way to prevent corrosion is to follow quality standards and best practices throughout the construction process.
You need to ensure that the materials, coatings, and methods are tested, verified, and approved according to the relevant codes and specifications.
Some of the quality standards and best practices for corrosion prevention are:
- Performing a corrosion risk assessment and developing a corrosion prevention plan
- Coordinating corrosion prevention actions with the request for proposal (RFP) and the statement of work (SOW)
- Establishing quality assurance (QA), contractor quality control (CQC), and commissioning (Cx) programs for corrosion prevention requirements
- Conducting a corrosion prevention design review (both for in-house and contractor) plans
- Implementing a corrosion prevention sustainment program
Corrosion is a serious threat that can compromise the integrity, functionality, and aesthetics of your building. However, you can prevent or minimize corrosion by applying the strategies discussed in this article during the construction phase.
By using non-corrosive or corrosion-resistant materials, applying coatings or barriers, implementing cathodic protection, designing for durability, and following quality standards and best practices, you can protect your building from the effects of corrosion and ensure its long-term performance and value.