steel corrosion

Steel Corrosion

Steel corrosion is a common household problem. This is particularly evident in steel column corrosion.

In this blog, we will examine the corrosion of structural steel, what problems can result and how to prevent it.

But first, it is important to understand what structural steel.

Structural steel

Structural steel is a type of steel that is used in construction.

In households, structural steel can be used in frames, beams to support and hold up decks, columns that make up deck railings and more.

Steel has many benefits.

Firstly, it is very durable and resistant to damage.

Compared to wood, steel is more resistant to the effects of weather, fires, termites, splitting, creeping and rotting.

As such, this means that steel lasts longer before requiring repairs. This in turn makes steel a more effective in the long-term, as the cost of repairs can quickly add up.

Steel is also 100% recyclable, making it more beneficial for the environment.

Steel also gives homes a straighter finish along roof lines, ceilings and walls, while timber rooves, ceilings and walls are more prone to warping as time goes by.

steel corrosion

The metal frame of a house that is being constructed.

The cause of steel corrosion

While there are many benefits to structural steel, it is not without problems.

The most serious of these is corrosion.

Corrosion of steel is caused when moisture and oxygen react with the metal.

Upon being exposed to moisture and oxygen, the iron in steel oxidises to produce rust.

Rust is an example of corrosion that impacts iron-containing metals.

steel corrosion

Rust on the roof of a house that Dedant inspected

The effects of rust

The impact of rust on steel is very serious. It causes a flaky reddish-brown coating to form on metal.

This rapidly reduces the durability of the steel, making it thinner and prone to damage.

If left to spread, rust can destroy even the largest of steel structures.

steel corrosion

Rust has completely broken a metal support beam and separated it from the ground

Rust in the home

In terms of a residential house, rust is generally found in a few common areas.

These include rust in corrugated roof, steel columns and beams, railings, nuts and bolts, water heaters, gutters and downpipes, ant caps, and door hinges

The impact of rust can include:

  • Rust can cause holes to form in rooves.
  • Beams and columns can become damaged at the base or top, disconnecting them from the ground or the house
  • Railings can become flimsy and hazardous
  • Nuts and bolts can degrade and break apart, making structures come apart
  • Water heaters get rusted and become defective – this can cause the water itself to become rusty
  • Gutters and downpipes can leak as a result of result
  • Holes can form in ant caps, making them ineffective at exposing infestations
  • Rust on metal hinges can cause the hinges to snap off when you try and open the door

The impact of rust can range from minor annoyance to major health hazard, but even minor issues can become major if left unaddressed.

steel corrosion

Rust on a water heater. This can cause your water to become rusty.

How to prevent rust

The best way to protect your home from steel corrosion is to prevent rust from occurring.

The number one way to prevent rust is to keep steel clean and dry.

Cracks and scratches expose metal and hold more water, so you should avoid anything that damages the metal. Smoother surfaces also do not trap and hold water the way rougher metal surfaces

You can apply a protective coating to the steel around your home using rust preventing sprays, wipes and paints.

Using stainless steel and galvanized metals in construction can also make your home more rust resistant.

Rusted gutters and downpipes. This is caused by leakages.

How to fix rust

If you notice rust around the home that you were unable to prevent, you can take steps to fix the problem.

Your first option is to simply get rid of the rusty fixture and purchase another one. This may be necessary for objects like water heaters, screws or columns that have been damaged beyond repair.

However, for items like rooves that have suffered damage, they may be salvageable.

If you notice rust, you should scrape, grind or scout it off as soon as it appears. Alternately, you can use chemicals to remove rust.

Smooth out any bumps from the removal and wash the area with warm water and soap. After this, apply an anti-rust coating and new paint.

 

settlement crack woodridge

Cracking in houses, when do I need to worry?

Australia has been experiencing one of the worst droughts in history, causing more and bigger cracking in houses than has been seen previously.

When you first notice a crack, it might not seem like much. Before too long, that annoying little crack creeps further and widens becoming concerning.

Depending on the size of the crack and where it is, it can indicate different things. However, all cracks need to be taken seriously. It is very common to notice cracking in houses during a building inspection.  Cracks can often be seen in flooring (particularly garage floors that are uncovered), walls, fences, and driveways.

In this blog we will discuss the causes of cracks what they mean for your property.

1)    Cracking in houses and hot, dry weather

Most house cracks are caused because of the ground under the foundation shifting.

This shifting is commonly caused by soil drying out and contracting, which moves the house footing. Often, this movement is uneven, and this is what causes cracks and fissures.

The type of soil your house is built om matters greatly.

Clay soils are slow to absorb water, while sand and loam absorb water quickly.

As such clay soils are more prone to shrinkage due to lack of moisture, so cracks happen more often in houses built on clay.

cracking in houses

An example of a large crack in a brick wall.

2)  Cracking in houses and moist soil

Heavy rainfall and other sources of water can also cause soil to shift.

As soils such as sand and loam are quick to absorb water, they are quick to expand because of rainfall.

This shifting can also cause cracking in houses.

Quick changes from dry and hot weather to cold and damp weather can exacerbate this process and make cracks even worse.

3)     Other effects of water

Heavy rainfall, surface run-off, excessive use of garden sprinklers and leaky downpipes can cause soil to wash away from the foundation of your home, causing your home to shift.

As the house shifts due to changes in the soil, cracks may appear.

cracking in houses

An example of water leakage in a wooden deck. Water leakages around the home can cause cracks in floors and walls.

4)     Trees and shrubs

The roots of trees and shrubs located around your property draw moisture away from the foundations of your home.

The way tree roots draw moisture away from the foundations causes soil shrinkage and therefore, cracks.

Conversely, removing tree roots will cause the soil to reabsorb lost moisture, causing soil to expand and creating movement.

5)     Cracking in houses caused by vibrations

Houses can also move and shift because of nearby ground vibrations caused by nearby construction and heavy traffic.

These vibrations can move the foundation of your home and cause cracks.

6)     Uneven settlement

If a house is built on uneven ground, as it settles this can cause stress on the structure will quickly cause cracks.

Generally, this problem occurs in newly build properties, however it can also occur when a new extension is added to a home.

cracking in houses

An example of a settlement crack in the ceiling of a home.

7)     Cracks as the building ages

As your home ages, it will adjust to environmental conditions which will result in shrinkage and warping, which can cause cracks.

8)     Poor structural design

Structural design can influence the rate at which the house cracks, particularly if the design is poor or has significant faults.

Insufficient bracing and support can cause movement while the concrete is green, resulting in cracks.

The removal or cutting of too much wall framing can also result in sagging and cracking.

Inadequate protective covering against heat on the roof can cause heat to warp the house, particularly if the building has a metal frame.

9)     Cracks in driveways

Driveways often become cracked because heavy vehicles drive on them, day after day.

Over time, this causes the concrete to crack and buckle.

cracking in houses

A crack in a driveway.

10)  House cracks in vacant homes

If you leave a house unoccupied for too long, this can result in cracks in both the ceiling and the walls.

This is because that when people are home, they will always be adjusting the temperature of the building to ensure comfort.

However, when no one is at home, the building can become very hot, very quickly. This extreme temperature can cause cracks.

During particularly hot summers, residents can leave for two weeks and return to find large cracks in the wall.

How to find cracking in houses

If you are concerned about cracks, you can engage a building inspector or engineer for more information.

They can conduct pre-purchase and pre-sale building inspections, dilapidation reports, new construction reports, as well as renovation reports.

Building reports examine faults around in and around the property including cracks.

Dilapidation reports look at the condition of the building prior to renovation work and then examines if any damage because of construction. This is particularly helpful to determine cracks caused by vibrations.

New construction reports examine the quality of newly built homes, including whether any cracks have formed due to settlement or poor construction.

Renovation reports will inform you what parts of your home are structurally safe and which parts should not be touched.

Cracking in houses can become a major issue if left unaddressed, so do not leave it until it is too late.

 

water leaking loganlea

10 tips for spotting water damage when buying

When house hunting, looking out for water damage when buying is essential.

Water is the cause of many major household problems that can end up costing you thousands of dollars down the line.

As such, it is vital that you know what signs to look for so you can spot water damage when buying.

1)     Musty smell

Before even walking through the door, one obvious sign of water damage when buying might be the smell.

Houses with water damage produce a smell like wet cardboard or paper.

The smell can waft through the entire property, but it is strongest in areas that have water damage. These are generally the bathroom, kitchen and laundry.

2)     Poorly maintained gutters

Poorly maintained gutters are another sign of water damage.

Gutters are designed to divert water away from the house and safely into the garden or municipal damage.

When they are damaged, this can cause rainwater to spill onto your property and damage it.

3)     Pools of water near the foundation

Tying into the gutters issue is the existence of polls of water near the foundation of the home.

Pools of water near the home’s foundation is a sign the yard isn’t draining away properly, which can lead to a build up of moisture

Water leakage in the sub floor of a home.

4)     Appearance of mould

Mould is a type of discoloured, fuzzy fungal growth that forms in the home due to excessive moisture and humidity.

Mould spreads over time and can have major health effects on people living in an infested home.

Such health effects include breathing problems, nasal congestion, coughing, throat irritation and other respiratory issues.

Look for dark coloured spots on the walls, like so:

An example of mould growth on the ceiling.

5)     Condensation

Windows can show signs of moisture through condensation.

If you see windows becoming cloudy or wet and it hasn’t rained recently, this is a sign that there is an issue with the plumbing, pipes or drainage.

6)     Warped floors

Warped floors are a sign that underfloor drainage issues. Such warping includes uneven tiling, carpet lifting, damp carpets and soft spots in wooden floorboards.

Uneven flooring creates a tripping hazard and moisture often makes surfaces dangerous to walk on due to the threat of slipping.

Uneven tiles near a pool. Can be a sign of issues with plumbing.

7)     Rust

Rust on metal objects are a tell-tale sign of excess moisture. This is doubly true if rust can be found in areas not exposed to the outside.

Rust forms when iron and oxygen react to water or moisture in the air.

Rust generally manifest as brown-orange mark. If left unchecked, it can make metal corrode over time.

This ultimately makes appliances fragile and can even make the structure of your home unsafe.

Checking for rust is a must-do when looking to buy a home.

Rust on a water heater in a residential home.

8)     Outdated water supply system

When buying a home, you should ensure the quality of the water supply system is assured.

If left too long without a proper inspection, your pipes can rust, get damaged by tree roots growing into them or face some other form of damage.

Even if the pipes are in good condition, the connections and faucets can still leak.

As such, getting a pre-purchase plumbing inspection is essential.

9)     Sound of running water

One often unnoticed sign of water damage is the sound.

If you hear dripping or even the rush of running mater, this is a sign that there may be a leak or burst pipe.

A creaking sound coming from your floors can also be a sign of underfloor drainage issues.

10)  Flaking paint

Water damage can also manifest behind walls and ceilings, causing the paint to flake away.

It may also crack or bubble.

Paint flaking in Hillcrest.

What to do if you find evidence of water damage

Firstly, you should book a further inspection to assess the extent of the damage.

If you find water damage when buying, or looking to buy a home, this can influence the price of the home.

From there, negotiate with the seller to see about fixing the problems, or depending on the extent of damage, lowering the price.

If you cannot come to an agreement with the seller about these things, it is best to move on.