Rust is something most of us think of as a minor problem for hardware that is exposed to the outdoors, like cars, or BBQ grills, or maybe even bicycles. We certainly see plenty of evidence of rust on abandoned vehicles by the side of the road, in junkyards, or even in neglected neighborhoods. But what about in your home?
Rust, or corrosion, as it is more formally known, can happen anywhere. Its not just being outside that causes rust to occur. So how do you find rust in your home? And what can you do to prevent it? Why should you prevent? We’ll get into all of that now.
What Is Corrosion?
Rust, more properly known as corrosion, is an electrochemical reaction. This means that different substances interacting with each other, or the application of electrical energy—or both—to a substance, cause a process of oxidation. Oxidation is what happens when a substance’s atomic structure loses electrons to the oxygen in our air, and that oxygen then attaches and interacts with the substance, forming a new substance.
That substance appears as the dusty “rust” we see that forms on some substances, or, in the case of the statue of liberty, as the green layer of “film” that changed the statue from its original dark, metallic copper color. This is a natural chemical process that affects many different metals.
Why It’s Bad
The biggest issue with corrosion is that it doesn’t just change the color and texture of metal when oxidation occurs. Corrosion, as the name implies, also weakens the structural integrity of metal. It may even affect the characteristics of that metal that were originally relied on.
The Statue of Liberty was at risk, as decades of corrosion weakened its structure, putting it in danger of collapse until a restoration occurred. In electronics, corrosion can affect the ability of electricity to transmit safely, as the corrosion affects the conductivity of the metal, and interferes with the smooth, safe distribution of energy.
What To Do
You definitely don’t want corrosion in your home, especially when it comes to electronics, as these can lead to electrical failures and even fires. It’s relatively easy to prevent corrosion of certain metals in your home by taking a few simple measures.
Try to keep humidity to a minimum. Moisture is one of the chief reasons that corrosion occurs, but in a dryer environment, this reaction is dramatically reduced. This is often the reason why sometimes corrosion appears in basements, which tend to be damper than other parts of a home.
Try painting or coating certain metals. This is merely a man-made attempt to cover metal with a thin layer of film. It prevents moisture from making contact with the metal underneath, thus protecting it from corrosion.
Finally, try not to scratch or damage metals. In some cases, the metal, assuming it is undamaged, will be naturally resistant to corrosion. However, physical damage can expose weaknesses that allow the corrosion process to begin. But if you take good care of these metal items in your home, they will enjoy a long, safe life.