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    Galvanized steel product

    Maintenance Tips for Galvanized Steel

    What are maintenance tips for galvanized steel products?

    1. Prevent long periods of exposure to certain environments
    2. Avoid rough, thorough washing
    3. Use gentle cleaning materials
    4. Remove hardened debris immediately
    5. Don’t keep it in contact with dissimilar metals
    6. Repair physical damage ASAP

    Galvnized steel is one of the most popular metals there is — thanks to its enhanced corrosion resistance, durability, and longevity. But while the galvanization process makes these steel pieces more resistant to rusting and mineral deposit build-up, it still requires proper care.

    Knowing how to properly maintain the galvanized steel that makes up your gutters, staircases, balconies, and more is the best way to keep them functioning for much longer. To help you do this, here are our top maintenance tips for galvanized steel:

    Prevent long periods of exposure to certain environments

    Stacked steel barriers

    First, you must install or keep your galvanized steel products in the right environment. Despite its enhanced corrosion resistance, its protective layer of zinc is sensitive to certain conditions. Specifically, it does not do well in environments where the pH is below 6 and above 12. Outside of this range, the galvanized coating will deteriorate faster than normal.

    If this is unavoidable (such as if you’re located somewhere coastal, or work in heavy industrial conditions), there are a few precautions you can take. Rinse your galvanized steel with water regularly. And, do this when it’s not exposed to rain and sun. This should help protect your steel from the environmental effects.

    Avoid rough, thorough washing

    Like every other kind of metal, galvanized steel does have to be cleaned regularly to remain aesthetically pleasing and functional.

    However, we recommend avoiding any rough, abrasive, or chemical methods of cleaning. Using these kinds of materials or cleaning products will scratch the galvanized layer that’s protecting your steel — which we call a patina.

    Abrasive cleaning, such as using steel bristle brushes, will scratch away at the protective patina, exposing the steel underneath. Your steel will have a hard time rebuilding the protective layer again, which means you’d have to either replace or re-galvanize the steel piece sooner than expected. So, avoid rough cleaning if you want to avoid reducing the lifespan of your galvanized steel.

    Use gentle cleaning materials

    To clean your galvanized steel, there are several gentle cleaning materials at your disposal.

    That said, we always recommend starting your cleaning routine with the most conservative, gentle products and materials that you have. This should remove most (if not all) of the dirt and debris that you need to. You can gradually work up to more powerful cleaning methods if the situation calls for it.

    You can start with water and ordinary cleaning products (such as laundry soap) to try and clean your galvanized steel. This should be enough for removing bulk contaminants, such as dirt.

    If you’re noticing more stubborn marks or debris, then you can use a pressure washer set on low to attempt to remove them. We recommend using pure water at first, then moving on to soap solutions if the water doesn’t remove them fully. For soap solutions, you can stick to laundry soap, or use other products like car shampoo.

    Using cleaning products made for vehicles is a good choice since they are specially designed to minimize corrosion on the metallic parts of vehicles. They are generally suitable for use on galvanized steel. However, always rinse the steel with clean water after using the soap solution to prevent corrosion.

    In the case of mild stains that seem too stubborn for soap to get rid of, you can use common household ammonia cleaners to spot clean. Again, be sure to thoroughly rinse the galvanized article with clean water afterward.

    Once you’ve removed all the debris and stains from your galvanized steel, allow the steel piece to drain all water. Avoid letting any puddles of water from sitting on your galvanized steel product, as it can cause rust stains.

    Remove hardened debris immediately

    During repair, building, or renovations, materials like cement or mortar can splatter onto your galvanized steel products. These materials become very hard to remove once they harden, so your usual gentle cleaning methods won’t cut it.

    What you can do is remove as much of the deposit as you can with hand tools — work as close to the surface as you can. Avoid directly scraping against the surface though, as this could remove the protective patina.

    Follow this up with some oxalic acid, which should remove the remaining hardened debris. Finish this with a thorough rinsing to remove all traces of cleaning chemicals and debris.

    Don’t keep it in contact with dissimilar metals

    Galvanizing steel metal

    Lastly, avoid keeping any galvanized steel products you have with dissimilar metals. This means keeping it away from other kinds of metal, such as copper and brass. This is especially important in corrosive environments.

    If this is unavoidable, then we recommend installing an insulator for your galvanized steel. This should create a barrier between the dissimilar metals, and prevent corrosion.

    Repair physical damage ASAP

    If you notice any physical damage to the galvanized coating (such as scratches or chipping) then you need to take immediate action. Have the damaged area repaired by your supplier, or, have your people do it if you have the specialized zinc alloy rod or powder to repair the affected coat.

    This may be difficult to do for erected galvanized steel structures, or in awkward, inaccessible areas. In that case, it may be less time-consuming to have the piece replaced altogether by your steel fabricator.

    Key Takeaway

    There are many things that you can do to preserve your galvanized steel. Use our top maintenance tips for galvanized steel to restore the shine to your metal, and keep the material sturdy and durable for the years to come.

    In search of galvanized steel products? Reach out to Regan Industrial Sales, Inc. today. We provide a wide variety of high-quality structural steel for all your construction needs!