Dealing With Corrosion On Stainless Steel Tubes

Corrosion is among the most common problem that affects stainless steel tubes. The good news is that dealing with corrosion on stainless steel tubes can be done in the individual capacity.

This article provides vital information about restoration of stainless steel in question and answer format for the DIY homeowner.

How Can A DIY Homeowner Differentiate Between Stainless Steel And Coated Stainless Steel? 

Steel tubes around the home can be made of actual stainless steel, or they can be made of a different material coated with stainless steel. A DIY homeowner needs to establish whether the steel tube in question is made of stainless steel or it has been coated using stainless steel before undertaking any repairs meant to combat corrosion.

Differences between coated steel and stainless steel products include the fact that stainless steel products have a uniform silver colour all round while steel-coated products are often black on the back and only have a silver appearance on their front side. This is the easiest way for homeowners to tell what type of steel tube they're working with.

What Types Of Corrosion Affect Steel Tubes And How Can This Be Avoided?

Steel tubes may suffer various types of corrosion. Pitting corrosion refers to a situation in which the action of harmful chemical compounds results in the formation of cavities on the steel surface of the tube. The harmful compounds (e.g. chloride ions) attack the protective coating on the steel tube leading to degradation.  This type of corrosion is dangerous because it deeply damages the metal structure of steel tubes. Pitting corrosion can be prevented by polishing steel tubes so as to increase their resistance.  

Crevice corrosion is also common with steel tubes. This type of corrosion occurs when there is limited oxygen supply to the surface of the steel tube. This limits the formation of the protective layer on the tube, thereby making it more vulnerable to corrosion. This type of corrosion can be avoided through DIY sealing of crevices. If the extent of corrosion is severe, the homeowner may have to upgrade to a grade of stainless steel that is more resistant to corrosion.

Lastly, stainless steel tubes may also suffer galvanic corrosion. This happens when a stainless steel tube is allowed to be in contact with a different metal in the presence of an electrolyte solution such as water. The two metals and the electrolyte solution form a galvanic cell of sorts. The formation of this "cell" results in the accelerated galvanic corrosion of the weaker metal. In order to correct and avoid this problem in future, a DIY homeowner should create a barrier between the two metals using non-metallic corrosion insulators (e.g.  rubber).