How to Protect Steel Pipes From the Elements

If you're running steel pipes outside, you may be worried that they are going to corrode. To protect your pipes from corrosion, there are a variety of steps you may want to take. Consider the following tips. 

1. Paint the Steel Pipe

Paint can serve as a layer of protection against the elements. Stay away from latex paints—they won't hold onto the steel. Opt for a paint designed to work on metal and withstand external conditions.

2. Use an Anti-Rust Primer

If you decide to paint your steel pipes, apply an anti-rust primer first. That makes the painting process take longer, but in the long run, it's well worth the effort. The primer gives your pipes an extra layer of protection.

3. Apply an Epoxy

Instead of using paint, you can use an epoxy sealant. Again, make sure it works with steel, and look for something that promises to waterproof your pipes. That will keep water droplets off the pipe and reduce the risk of rust.

4. Sand Off Rust

If you've had your steel pipes for a while, they may already have rust. To prevent the rust from spreading, scrub or file it off with steel wool or a metal file. If you plan to paint the pipes, do this first. While you can paint over rust, the rust will poke through the paint eventually, and that disrupts the protective side of your paint.

5. Consider Stainless Steel

In cases, where you don't have your steel pipes yet, you may want to consider stainless steel. Stainless steel is corrosion resistant, where regular steel isn't. Just note that it may be more expensive, and you have to ensure that you are getting the strength you need with your pipes.

6. Opt for a Coating

If stainless steel doesn't work for your needs, you may want to talk with the steel pipe manufacturer about adding a coating. This will drive up the cost of your steel pipe, but it should simultaneously reduce long term maintenance, repairs and replacement costs. Talk with the pipe manufacturer about the environment where your pipes are going to be to ensure that you get the best coating for your needs.

7. Consider Cathodic Protection

This is also a step that you need to take in the manufacturing process of your steel pipes. Basically, this technique controls corrosion by making the steel into the cathode of an electrochemical cell. Then, another metal is attached to the steel. That metal works on a sacrificial level—essentially, that metal corrodes so that the steel doesn't have to. Your steel pipe manufacturer can let you know if this is an option for you.