Protecting Metal Building Materials during Winter

Deicing now uses chemicals that can be harmful to metal building materials. Image:Wikimedia.

Seeing this recent “polar vortex” create record breaking frigid temperatures, here is a relevant article about protecting metal building materials from corrosion caused by severe weather. Metal Construction News’ recent article, “Tarping Loads During Winter Months,” explores the changing needs of transporting metal building materials during harsh winter conditions.

The article highlights the fact that many highway maintenance departments have altered the method of clearing ice and snow from highways and bridges with chemical deicers instead of using the traditional rock salt, slag and sand. They are using chemicals such as liquid calcium chloride or liquid magnesium chloride to prevent dangerous driving conditions. While these deicers are very effective in clearing the roads and improving public safety, they are extremely corrosive. These chemicals, with the right mixture of water or spray, may reach the steel that’s being transported, creating rust or pitting. The impact these deicers have on the primer applied to steel and painted sheeting products as the material is transported to the job site is very harsh.

If a project will be shipped during winter months, and especially through inclement weather, it is recommended to tarp loads. This is a very effective and easy way to avoid corrosion to your metal building materials caused by severe conditions. Oftentimes, the manufacturer leaves the decision up to you whether or not to tarp your loads, and it can come with a minimal charge. However, if you choose not to tarp your loads, the manufacturer cannot be held liable for the conditions of the primed steel and any damage to the panels or all other materials on the trailer caused by these deicers.

The use of tarps can be an effective way to protect against corrosion. Image: Mytee Products

The primer is a temporary coating designed to protect steel during the shipping and erection process for normal atmospheric conditions, not for exposure to corrosive chemicals. If you are planning to pick up material from the manufacturer and transport it yourself, make sure you have the proper tarping materials to avoid the harsh road conditions. It is also easier to apply warm tarps than those that have been transported or sitting in the cold. If possible, bring them inside the cab of the truck to let them warm up as you drive.

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