Structural steel is one of the most durable, versatile and sustainable materials you can use in construction projects, but only if it’s installed and protected properly. Steel is susceptible to rust and corrosion, so if any moisture gets into the building frame, it will significantly shorten the building’s lifespan. It also needs to be insulated from fire—while steel will not catch fire, very high temperatures will soften and weaken the metal, causing it to buckle and collapse. Here are the precautions you need to take when working with structural steel in Phoenix, AZ.
Types of building corrosion
Corrosion can attack structural steel and weaken its makeup until it eventually collapses:
- Basic corrosion: When moisture and air meet near structural steel, corrosion can form. The three elements create an electrochemical response that creates iron hydroxide. Iron hydroxide continues to react with the steel, causing rust that eats away at the steel beams.
- Bimetallic corrosion: This type of corrosion occurs when two different metals come into contact with each other, especially if the building is submerged or buried.
- Environmental corrosion: Environmental factors like pollution and other compounds can make already-existing corrosion even worse. Coastal environments and industrial and manufacturing facilities are the most likely to experience environmental corrosion.
How to prevent corrosion in your building
To prevent corrosion from happening in your structural steel building, there are a few things you can do. First, work with a reputable steel fabricator to get the highest quality materials possible, and work with an architect who understands how to protect structural steel from corrosion. The better your materials and the prevention process, the less likely the materials will need to be replaced later on down the line in response to leaks, improper installation or poor-quality steel.
Second, make sure the design follows the basic ways to prevent corrosion: avoid open crevices and designs that might entrap dust and water, use protective features like sealing plates on column bases and encourage air movement.
How to insulate from fire
Structural steel should be insulated from fire so it won’t soften and collapse in fires or explosions. Intumescent coatings, which expand in heat, can protect your steel beams and columns from high temperatures. Gypsum plaster and wallboards are another option—gypsum is commonly used in many kinds of fire protection processes in construction applications.
Spray insulation is also used to insulate steel beams and components from fire—it often contains mineral fiber and cement materials that are fire resistant. Similarly, concrete itself is used to protect and insulate steel from fire, since it too is naturally fire resistant.
Depending on your project, working with an experienced contractor can help you identify the best way to protect your structural steel building from corrosion and fire. Taking appropriate safety precautions for your structural steel project in Phoenix, AZ will ensure that your building lasts at least several lifetimes, especially when properly maintained.
For more information about how we can assist with structural steel fabrication, contact Metal Pro Inc. today.