Inspect for Corrosion: Early Signs of Rusting in Your Food Production Plant
By Painters USA Team
— Last updated December 24, 2022
Food production plants must adhere to strict rules and regulations when it comes to cleanliness and equipment maintenance. However, rust and corrosion can still be a problem despite your best efforts in the way of prevention. Because of the serious issues that can crop up if rust and corrosion are found in your food production facility, it’s important that you are able to spot early signs of rust on your equipment and take steps to alleviate the problem before it becomes a serious issue. To help you in that direction, it pays to know some of the most common early signs of rusting in food production facilities.
Signs to Watch For
Bubbling in Paint/Finish: One of the first signs of impending rust and corrosion is the development of bubbles beneath a once smooth finish. Watching for the development of these bubbles should be part of your regular preventative maintenance inspection. Cleaning the surface and applying a corrosion preventative solution can help to reduce the chance of the condition worsening. A commercial painting service can also help ensure your facility is painted properly and with the correct products.
Bubbles Burst: Bubbled finishes will eventually burst, exposing the undercoating, or the bare metal in some cases. The finish may begin to flake, as well. In this instance, the metal and remaining finish should be thoroughly cleaned, and a corrosion inhibitor should be applied.
Small Granular Deposits: The next step in the rust development process is the appearance of small, granular deposits on the metal. These are precursors to the development of scale and the start of pitting. A corrosion inhibitor should be applied after thorough industrial cleaning.
Scale Develops: Powdery scale can develop on some metal surfaces, which indicates that the surface of the metal is beginning to be compromised. For a painted surface, cleaning, application of a corrosion inhibitor, and repainting is necessary. For unpainted surfaces, scale should be excised and an inhibitor applied.
Etching and Pitting: Etching and pitting can severely damage any metal components if left alone. Pitts will eventually eat through the metal itself, compromising its structural rigidity and strength. However, if caught early enough, etching and pitting can be treated. For painted surfaces, a thorough cleaning is necessary, and then a corrosion inhibitor should be applied, making sure that it penetrates into the pits/etching completely. Once the inhibitor is dry, another coat of paint can be applied. For unpainted surfaces, the pitting/etching can be excised by sanding/grinding, and then rust inhibitor can be applied.
Colored Corrosion Deposits: The final early sign of rust is the appearance of colored corrosion deposits. Reddish deposits are common with ferrous metals, but it can also be black, or even white if there is a zinc coating involved (such as with galvanized steel). The steps to remove this stage of rust are the same as those described for scale and etching/pitting.
Rust Bleeding: This involves reddish streams of rust running down metal components from weld points. The cause is usually cleaning chemicals, water and air trapped in the space behind the weld, and it is a particularly common situation.
These are just a few of the early signs to watch for that indicate your food production plant might be developing rust and corrosion. You should also look for loose, granular deposits, and deeper pitting. More serious corrosion includes metal penetration and erosion, loss of structural strength, and eventual failure.
Where Should You Inspect?
Where should you look for signs of corrosion and rust? Actually, any metal components within your facility should be scrutinized regularly. However, you need to pay particularly close attention to the food zone, the splash zone, and the non-food zone within your facility. These are the three areas where the National Sanitation Foundation particularly enforces regulatory standards. With that being said, a responsible manager or business owner should ensure that the entire facility is well maintained.
Painters USA can help your facility create an industrial cleaning plan complete with industrial painting to keep your facility in prime condition. Contact Painters USA today at 1-800-999-8715.
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