How Rusted Metal Can Affect the Integrity of Industrial Equipment

Rust might be on the body of your car or in your home’s water. In its early stages, rust is usually not harmful, just unsightly. At its worst, it might rub off on your clothes and leave a stain.

But, on something like a highway overpass or an offshore rig, the issues of rusted metal take on a different scale. If it’s not addressed, these industrial pieces can become dangerous and structurally unsound. 

The good news is, staying informed can prevent dangerous oversights in care and maintenance. Read on to learn what causes rusted metal and how it can impact your operation’s equipment. 

What is Rust?

Rust is a form of corrosion that only affects iron and its alloys, including steel. Rust is also known as iron oxide. It usually looks red or brownish, but it can take on different colors depending on its chemical makeup.

Rust develops when iron reacts with the air and water in its environment. In later stages, the rust will peel or flake off.

Rust and Industrial Machinery

Over time, rust will dissolve iron materials. What starts as surface rust can eventually make its way to the center of metal. Rust creates weak spots in iron and steel, much like rot destroys wood. 

Since most industries use iron or steel equipment, rust poses a severe threat to the majority of industrial operations. It can compromise the strength of marine ships, oil rigs, and even railroad tracks.

Plus, rust doesn’t even require extreme circumstances to form. Rust can start to develop any time the air temperature is above freezing, and the air has at least 70% humidity. 

It also costs a lot of money to fix. Pipeline corrosion alone costs at least $9 billion each year between maintenance costs and lost product. 

What To Do If You Find Rusted Metal

If you’re wondering how to remove rust, you can start with an industrial rust removal solvent. It will strip away the layer of rust and protect the metal underneath from additional corrosion. 

While rust can do a lot of damage over time, there are a few strategies that can keep it from spreading. The key is to protect the metal from as much air and moisture as possible.  

A coat of acrylic paint can help protect the iron or steel from air and water. Just make sure to avoid water-based paint, since that will make the rust worse. You can also apply a layer of oil or grease, but this is much more temporary than paint. 

Another excellent method is to establish a cleaning and maintenance schedule. Regularly cleaning and drying exposed metal can protect it from rust. 

If your equipment is near salt water or in humid environments, you may need to replace parts more often. It’s essential to maintain and replace rusty parts before the rust spreads to critical parts of the machinery. 

Keep Your Equipment Functioning

Rusted metal is much more than a cosmetic problem. It can make machines, bridges, heavy machinery, and ships break down over time. If you don’t address it, the rust will spread and eat away at the metal. 

Whether you need to order custom parts or schedule a repair service, Kor-Pak can help. Contact us today to learn how we can help you combat rust in your operation. 


Posted in Industrial Equipment.