Will Pressure Washing Remove Rust From Metal?

23 May 2019

Rust is ugly. It's also difficult to remove, and it usually ends up returning even if you did a thorough job of getting rid of it. Unfortunately, our climate in the Tampa area, including where you live in Land O' Lakes, is conducive to producing rust.

High humidity levels for most of the year, especially during the summer causes orange rust. Rust forms only when conditions are right. Humidity must be higher than 50 percent. Ions in water combine with oxygen ions in the air to form rust. A prime time for this to happen is at dawn when air temperature rises fast than that of dense metal surfaces to produce condensation.

Methods to Remove Rust From Exterior Metal

Several methods are available to remove rust from exterior metal. These include:

  • Using a power tool such as a flap disc, fiber disc or a sander on a flat area
  • Application of rust removal chemicals containing phosphoric or hydrochloric acid
  • Application of newer non-toxic and acid-free chemicals that dissolve rust through selective chelation
  • Using a brushable liquid or aerosol spray

All of these methods have drawbacks. Using a power tool is time-consuming and can be dangerous. The same goes for applying chemicals. Users also have to be careful when applying these chemicals so as not to injure themselves. Wearing protective gloves and eyewear is a must. At the same time, some chemicals may require hours or even a day or two to be effective, and even then there is no guarantee that the rust will disappear.

The most effective method for removing rust from metal is by using a pressure washer. The powerful burst of water that comes from the pressure washer provides a high degree of efficiency for rust removal. What's more, removing rust from a vertical outdoor surface will also help surfaces that are underneath. Runoff from metal stairs or walls, for example, will also prevent staining or concrete or other horizontal surfaces.

Removing Rust From Metal Surfaces Through Pressure Washing

Two different types of pressure washers are available: electric and gas-powered. If you want to buy on for frequent use, consider an electric model as these are easier to maintain. At the same time, though, you will be limited in where you can use it as an electrical outlet must be nearby. Gas units are more powerful and can cut down the time required to do the job even further. Be aware, however, that the stream of water provided by gas units may be too forceful for some of the pressure washing jobs at your Land O' Lakes property. Look for a hot water pressure washer with a strength of 2000 PSI to 4000 PSI. Stubborn spots may need a pressure of 3000 PSI or higher. Among the accessories you'll need whether renting or buying a pressure washer are a high-pressure nozzle for a targeted and strong spray, a wide-angle nozzle for rinsing and a low-pressure nozzle for detergent application.

Pressure Washer Set-Up

Set up the pressure washer carefully to ensure safe operation while getting the best results from your work. Make sure to thoroughly read the unit's manual, which will tell you how to properly perform all connections that can affect the machine's performance as well as your own safety. To remove rust and corrosion from metal surfaces, you need a narrow-angle nozzle so the water exerts on a small area for better results and less effort on your part.

Before beginning rust removal work, test the spray on a small portion of the surface. Adjust the pressure level and the distance that you stand from the surface to get your desired results. Pay attention to safety measures indicated in the unit's manual as pressure washing can still be dangerous if you don't take care. The technique is still easier to do than sandblasting, though, so no specialized safety equipment is needed unless you feel more comfortable doing so. Wearing safety glasses and closed toed shoes are good ideas. You may also want to consider wearing a dust mask as th pressure washer will release fine particles into the air.

Before pressure washing a metal surface, make sure all nearby doors and windows are tightly closed. For stubborn areas of corrosion, you may want to consider applying some of the previously mentioned removers to make the job more thorough. If you do so, you'll want to rinse the area with a wide-angle pray following the removal phase.

Keeping Metal Free of Rust

Pressure washing metal surfaces annually on your Land O' Lakes property will help keep the surfaces free of rust and corrosion, but there are other things you can do for protection. Consider priming the metal surface and then covering it with rust-inhibiting paint. Performing both of these steps will help keep corrosion at bay.

If you're wary of doing such a big job, let experienced professionals do the job for you. Edwin's Pressure Washing Land O' Lakes in the Tampa Bay area will provide you with a FREE, no-obligation quote to help remove rust from your property.