How to fix corroded steel?

06th Sep

Structural strengthening expert Composites Construction UK looks at the best methods of dealing with corroded steel – which, if left untreated, can have enough leverage to compromise the safety of a structure.

Not only can corroded steel – (or rust) – taint the aesthetics of a building, it’s a well-known cause of structural weakening, which leads to cracks, spalling concrete and breakages. While there are several ways of treating corroded steel, the best method is usually decided by a structural repairs’ specialist following a thorough survey.

Here, we’ll consider the severity of the corrosion and any consequential damage, which other building materials are present (e.g. concrete), and more. We explore how to fix corroded steel within a concrete structure by using concrete repair techniques to strengthen and reinforce.

What is corroded steel?

Corrosion of metals (such as steel) happens when they’re exposed to chemicals, water, weathering or ageing. Though it’s responsible for deterioration, corrosion is a process whereby materials are trying to morph into a more chemically stable form.

Fixing corroded steel within a concrete structure

Corroded steel is common within concrete structures (imagine a bridge or pier – there’s always rusting near the railings). However, those small rusty parts cause costly problems if they’re ignored. The methods for fixing corroded steel usually involve preventative measures rather than replacing the steel elements altogether. Some structures can exist with corrosion and others can’t – it’s a risk that we wouldn’t personally take.

Types of concrete repairs solutions used to heal corrosion

Different concrete repairs and strengthening specialists use varying techniques. However, here are some solutions we commonly explore at CCUK when we’re presented with corroded steel.

Corrosion inhibitors

Inhibitors are chemical solutions that we use to slow down the rate of corrosion. Normally, this is the first method we’d try.

Cathodic protection (CP) and sacrificial anodes

Sacrificial anodes (or galvanic anodes) protect submerged structures from corrosion – such as those underground or underwater. There are six types of anodes in varying shapes, and once the shape is established, they are fixed on to the side of the structure. Then, they work by ‘oxidising’ quicker than the steel.

If you’ve got any questions on anodes, you can contact Composites Construction UK.

CCUK is ISO accredited and follows best practice at all times to ensure the job is done professionally, safely and efficiently.

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