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Rust stains on bricks from steel beam

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  1. #1
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    Default Rust stains on bricks from steel beam

    Hi all,

    We had an extension done about 18 months ago. The brickwork is built on steel I-Beams around the base. As you can see from the photos, in some places where the bricks are touching the steel beam they have rust stains.

    When the builder put the beams up they did paint them, but I guess the brickies have knocked the paint off and exposed the steel.

    Two questions:
    1) Is this corrosion of the steel beams likely to cause any structural issues in the future or is it just cosmetic?
    2) Is there anything I can do to clean the rust stains off the bricks and prevent it coming back. The bottom three rows you can see in the photos are laid inside the I of the I-Beam, so I could possibly knock them out, repaint with a kill rust type paint and then put the bricks back in.

    Thanks
    Andrew.

    https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws..../IMG_1428b.jpg
    https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws..../IMG_1427b.jpg

  2. #2
    2K Club Member barney118's Avatar
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    mmmmm..... it looks like who ever did this used cold Gal paint (cheap as chips) and you can scratch it off with your finger nail. You should have had the beams hot dipped in gal being exposed, or painted with kill rust primer and top coat paint (more for internals).
    Why is it only the corner is affected? is there moisture getting behind somehow or the wall sarking stops short ontop of the steel beam, you can see the dpc above with the weep holes, for moisture build up in the wall cavity was this constructed correctly and the mositure is going on the inside instead of outside??
    either way have a look if you have photos of the build, the steel is structural to support the wall/roof and bricks. Are you near the sea? as I live approx 1klm and I get sea spray that causes issues, but yours looks more like a moisture issue localised to that corner.
    cheers Look out if I have a tape measure in my hand.....I'm upto something

  3. #3
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    Hi Barney,
    Thanks for your reply.

    The builder cut and welded the beams onsite and they were bare steel when they arrived. They painted them with a dark grey/blue paint - don't know if it was cold gal or kill rust type paint.
    We are in Ryde in Sydney, so probably a good 20 kms from the ocean.

    The rust staining is worst in the corner in the photo but it is in patches all the way around the front and side of the house.

    I'll dig out some more photos of the build and side of the house and post them up.

    Cheers

  4. #4
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    I'm willing to bet that the beam was only painted on the surface seen after it was installed. The rain has got in between the bricks and the top side of that steel beam, starting the surface rust that you can see. Ultimately, there is no easy fix as to either gal. dip the beam, or even paint it will require its removal. You could, however, use a thin brush to drizzle in some phosphoric acid based rust converter/primer to drastically slow the process. It will be fiddly to do, but will help its longevity. The beam will eventually rust away, but this could take decades...
    Too many projects, so little time, even less money!
    Trailer Specialist - Repairs, Brakes, Customs.

  5. #5
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    A beam which is in an exposed situation such as this one is, should have been HDG coated, this will protect the steel for the life of the structure (or close to), cold gal spray is only good for touch ups where a weld may be necessary, and is not the best solution for long lengths of steel as it is only a wet spray and easily scratched off.

    HDG is an electroplating process which binds itself to the base steel and has self healing properties if it is accidentally scratched, any spray paint or brush on paint (no matter how good) will give away when exposed to weathering situations, and will end up exposing the base metal which will start rusting in a short time.

    If it was only painted with a grey / blue paint this is only good as a protective primer to stop surface rust and to be painted later, and for use in a non exposed situation, as the primer has no anti rust properties.

    The main concern here is, if the steel is rusting at the edge, the rust will move to under the bricks and over then next few years the rust will lift the brickwork up, causing cracking of the mortar, and will require more major repairs.

    As it is rusting quite obviously only after 18 months, I would call back the builder and ask him what his thoughts are for the problem, as once your warranty insurance is up then it becomes your problem, Home Warranty Insurance ranges from 5 to 6.5 years depending on which state you are in, and it will probably take around 6-10 years for the problem to become very recognizable in the brickwork but the beam will still be structurally sound, but will eventually get to the point where it will become weak, it is best to get this fixed now rather than wait for the inevitable cracking to start showing.

    If the builder says it will be fine and it's only surface rust, take this with a grain of salt, as surface rust leads to major rust, and this beam should have zero rust.

    To repair this properly it is relatively simple, but will require one of two things, both unfortunately require removal of the beam, as I don't know of any chemical etc which can be inserted in between the brick and steel to stop the beam rusting.

    1) Removal of the original beam, sand blasted or acid wash to remove any rust, then Hot Dip Gal the beam ready for re insertion.
    2) Removal of the old beam, and replacement with a new Hot Dip Gal one in its place.

    To remove the beam there will be some brickwork which needs to be removed to get the beam out, and the existing structure will need to be propped up while the beam is removed, this can all be repaired sufficiently so you wont notice it has been done, but if it is left to rust, then there will be a lot more brickwork etc which will require repairing, as well as possibly some internal plaster work if the beam lifts up enough to crack the inside plaster.

    Here is some info on HDG process, wet sprays cannot match the performance of a HDG product.

    INDUSTRIAL GALVANIZERS - AN INTRODUCTION TO THE HOT DIP GALVANIZING PROCESS

  6. #6
    2K Club Member barney118's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metrix Building View Post
    A beam which is in an exposed situation such as this one is, should have been HDG coated, this will protect the steel for the life of the structure (or close to), cold gal spray is only good for touch ups where a weld may be necessary, and is not the best solution for long lengths of steel as it is only a wet spray and easily scratched off.

    HDG is an electroplating process which binds itself to the base steel and has self healing properties if it is accidentally scratched, any spray paint or brush on paint (no matter how good) will give away when exposed to weathering situations, and will end up exposing the base metal which will start rusting in a short time.

    If it was only painted with a grey / blue paint this is only good as a protective primer to stop surface rust and to be painted later, and for use in a non exposed situation, as the primer has no anti rust properties.

    The main concern here is, if the steel is rusting at the edge, the rust will move to under the bricks and over then next few years the rust will lift the brickwork up, causing cracking of the mortar, and will require more major repairs.

    As it is rusting quite obviously only after 18 months, I would call back the builder and ask him what his thoughts are for the problem, as once your warranty insurance is up then it becomes your problem, Home Warranty Insurance ranges from 5 to 6.5 years depending on which state you are in, and it will probably take around 6-10 years for the problem to become very recognizable in the brickwork but the beam will still be structurally sound, but will eventually get to the point where it will become weak, it is best to get this fixed now rather than wait for the inevitable cracking to start showing.

    If the builder says it will be fine and it's only surface rust, take this with a grain of salt, as surface rust leads to major rust, and this beam should have zero rust.


    I would start with your paperwork, as steel should have been signed off by an engineer not builder and council should have stated this on your DA, so I would expect some paper trail on how it should have been treated, then you can determine if it was or not to the plan. Then you can work out if the builder is responsible for poor work and if the insurance will cover it.

    The builder will have a reply to either pass it off or wants to save reputation and help, at least you have done your homework.

    It will last for some time, it has me concerned that I wouldnt call it a one off installation where it got wet, it appears to be constantly getting moisture for the corrosion to grow like it is, which points me to the sarking/dpc letting it get through or the porous brick it letting it in ???

    Once corrosion starts it will as metrix says grow and expand causing brickwork to crack, this may take 10 years + ?? who knows whats happening behind you cant see.

    HDG is relatively cheap and should not be overlooked for cost saving.
    cheers Look out if I have a tape measure in my hand.....I'm upto something

  7. #7
    Je pense, donc METRIX's Avatar
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    Further to your original post


    When the builder put the beams up they did paint them,
    The builder should have known better that to put up a non HDG beam in an exposed situation like this, if they did paint them thinking it would last, then they have no idea.

    but I guess the brickies have knocked the paint off and exposed the steel.
    The brickies would not have knocked the paint of, the brick cleaning acid, and weather has worn it off, it was bound to happen sooner rather than later.

    Two questions:
    1) Is this corrosion of the steel beams likely to cause any structural issues in the future or is it just cosmetic?
    Currently cosmetic, but will worsen over time and cause structural

    2) Is there anything I can do to clean the rust stains off the bricks and prevent it coming back.
    There are rust stain cleaners, but no point it will come straight back as the beam is still rusting

    The bottom three rows you can see in the photos are laid inside the I of the I-Beam, so I could possibly knock them out, repaint with a kill rust type paint and then put the bricks back in.
    No point, it wont do anything to solve the underlying issue, and why should you pay for the repairs, it is coverd by the Home Warranty Insurance taken out by the builder.

    We order all our own steel according to the engineers specifications, I would suggest the builder has tried to cheap out, or simply overlooked the requirement for galvanizing,or the steel supplier sent the wrong steel, ie: non galvanized, and the builder thought it will have to do as they might have been on time restrictions but if you said they painted it then, I feel they knew something was not right, but it will cost a lot more now for them to return and repair it, than it would have to pay for the extra step during manufacturing.

  8. #8
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    Hi all,

    Thanks very much for all your feedback. I'll take it up with the engineer and the builder and see what they say.

    One question I have though. As the brickwork is sitting directly on the steel beam all along the front and both side of the house, is it possible to replace the beam? It look like an extremely difficult task to me. The timber frame is also attached to the steel beams.

    Metrix, I'm glad you mentioned the Warranty Insurance as that hadn't occurred to me. If my builder refuses to play ball, is it a matter of lodging a claim with the insurance company?

    Cheers
    Andrew.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajseymour View Post
    Hi all,

    Thanks very much for all your feedback. I'll take it up with the engineer and the builder and see what they say.

    One question I have though. As the brickwork is sitting directly on the steel beam all along the front and both side of the house, is it possible to replace the beam? It look like an extremely difficult task to me. The timber frame is also attached to the steel beams.

    Metrix, I'm glad you mentioned the Warranty Insurance as that hadn't occurred to me. If my builder refuses to play ball, is it a matter of lodging a claim with the insurance company?

    Cheers
    Andrew.

    Anything is doable, Yes the beam can be removed, it just requires whats above it being temporarily held up while the beam is removed, it will take a bit of fiddling around but this is a fairly normal thing for an experienced builder to tackle, I wouldn't be too worried about it being replaced it is a task which is done frequently when these types of things eventually fail to perform adequately.

    Check you HWI policy, it should have a number to call if required, but first speak to your builder, and see what he offers as a solution, bearing in mind if he offers some sort of cleaning and painting this is not a solution, just a time extender, if this is his only offer, then I would contact the HWI to have it assessed independently.

    Would be interested to see if the Engineer specified HDG as the requirement, and if so they should have it in writing, this way you can track down where the system fell apart.

  10. #10
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    protecting exposed steel from corrosion with HDG is one of the best options but not mandatory unless specified by the engineer or designer.
    regards inter

  11. #11
    Je pense, donc METRIX's Avatar
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    This may be correct, but a good builder should use his noggin, with exposed beams like this one, and specify HDG.
    It would be like building an exposed pergola and using standard steel nails instead of HDG, just common sense IMO.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metrix Building View Post
    This may be correct, but a good builder should use his noggin, with exposed beams like this one, and specify HDG.
    It would be like building an exposed pergola and using standard steel nails instead of HDG, just common sense IMO.
    There is a difference, gal nails are the minimum in exposed locations whereas there are many options for structural steel in exposed locations.
    regards inter

  13. #13
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    Hi guys,

    I had the builder come out and have a look. He said the acid and high pressure wash from clean the bricks had knocked off the coating on the steel beam.
    He's going to remove all the bricks around the steel, recoat with the rust preventer and then apply a couple of coats of water proofing membrane before putting the bricks back.

    Not as good as HDG perhaps, but I checked the engineer's spec and he didn't specify HDG.

    Andrew

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