Treat and Prevent Rust

In Chicago’e ever-changing climate conditions, it may be impossible to completely prevent rust.  When oxygen and moisture come in contact with exposed metal, you get rust.  It can happen suddenly, or slowly build, eventually eroding and devaluing your belongings, and bringing everyone down because they have to see your rusted stuff.  Fight!  Although rust can often be removed with a little elbow grease, try to stay ahead of the game, and avoid it entirely.  Your best defense is prevention.

rust-holesRust builds it’s ugly orange-brown mess on metal, especially cars, tools, golf clubs, fences, screws, and bolts.   This corrosion is actually a chemical compound.  When iron combines with oxygen, iron oxide forms.  There is more science to this occurrence than I care to get into, but if you’re really interested, you can look it up.  Rust is damaging and unsightly; and honestly, vaguely disturbing.  And once it begins to develop, it can spread, until your item is completely corroded and useless.  And, even more disturbing, rust can render your object less effective while it’s being used, like in the case of a rusty bolt, or nail, cause malfunction, and actually be hazardous, threatening your safety. And let me tell you, rusting pipes in your water main will do a number on your laundry.  It’s best to prevent this from happening in the first place.

rusty-fenceThe items that often succumb to rust are mostly objects that contain a lot of iron and steel parts, and also come in contact with heat and moisture (the combination of both is much more damaging). Objects that spend a great amount of time in the outdoors are also susceptible to rust, especially if they are located within a rainy or humid climate. Your much-coveted, super-expensive parking spot on Armitage doesn’t look so great now, does it?  Well, just a little extra diligence will make rust just like any other maintenance issue.

car-washTo prevent car rust, make some regular trips to the car wash, and while you’re there, throw on a little wax.  Also, pay attention to the undercarriage; spray to keep it free of dirt and debris that can collect moisture.  Don’t forget to check the drain holes along the bottoms of doors and rocker panels, which allow rainwater to flow out.   Clean them out, and dry.  After, let it dry in the sun for a few hours.  You may want to step up this routine during one of our Chicago winters, as road salt, which produces sodium chloride, will speed up the rusting process.

Although many car factories take preventative measures against rust, like galvanizing car bodies, or soaking them in layers of rust-prevetion chemicals, stocking up on some highly-recommended rust prevention products is a good way to protect the integrity of your car.  There are plenty of products on the market that work against the accumulation of rust. Sometimes, they work before the process of rusting has taken place, while others can be applied over rusty metal to prevent further damage.  There is a nice variety – aerosols, gels, liquids, and application wipes –  we like Boeshield T; Bull Frog Heavy Duty Rust Blocker Gel; and the Sentry Solutions TUF-CLOTH.   Go nuts.

rust-bubblesSo, let’s say you’ve been too busy to monitor the situation, and you have rust.  Immediately repair!  Doing so will prevent further damage to additional layers of metal.  You may find you have bubbles that when removed, leave a pitted type of damage, called “scale.” Start by smoothing this surface with an abrasive wheel, wire brush, or sandpaper to cut through the paint and corrosion.  Remove any loose pieces of rust until clean, bright metal is visible. If you don’t have these tools on hand, and are dexterous, you can carefully try a razor blade.  After, use warm water and soap to lift any grime left behind.  Next, apply a metal conditioner. This will help stop the area from rusting further.  If you’ve still got an unsightly mess, consider a touch-up with primer, paint, and little buffing to blend.

And if you’re really unlucky, the corrosion has left holes when the base metal has been flaked away.  At this point, sadly, your in Sanford & Son territory, and the structural and financial integrity of your car is in question.  You will need to bring your wrecked heap of a car to a qualified repair facility for next steps.

rusty-toolsRust is looking for other things, besides cars, to corrode and devalue.  Tools, for example.  You can protect tools, and other smaller metal items with cream waxes and pastes from your local hardware store.  Our recommended choices leave behind a film of light oil-based product.  Look for WD-40, Sprayon Corrosion Supressant, Rustlick 631, and Rust-X.  These will prevent rust by keeping air and water contact off of the metal surfaces.  And, don’t forget to wipe off you tools after using them. Sweat from our hands, which contains salt and oils, can cause rust to develop, so wiping down tools after use is a great way to reduce the amount of rust and moisture that can collect on your metal-based equipment.

Finally, consider using a dehumidifier.  Keep one in your garage, basement, or wherever you keep your tools.  These areas are prone to dampness, and a reliable dehumidifier can control the moisture in the air, and keep rust at bay.

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