It’s true that metal buildings will last for years with basically no attention. However, even steel eventually rusts away without proper care. By paying a little attention to your metal building every few months with some basic maintenance chores, you can help it last decades instead.
Condensation is the number one reason metal buildings succumb to rust when there’s no specific roof leak or other source of moisture. A building may seem perfectly dry every time you’re in it and still accumulate enough moisture over the course of the day to rust out the supports or panels. Condensation forms when moisture in the air contacts a surface that is colder than the air temperature. Water beads up on the surface and then runs down, creating pockets of rust where it’s hard to find. Insulating the structure, installing vapor barriers, and using a dehumidifier during the humid months can keep your metal building as dry as possible and therefore free from rust.
Remove Leaves and Debris
Leaves, small branches, and other debris falling from overhanging trees often accumulate in the ridges between roof panels on metal buildings. Removing this organic material does more than just keep the building looking neat. Piles of leaves and twigs absorb a lot of water when rain falls and take a long time to dry out. This is basically like holding a damp sponge against the metal for days on end. While the factory coating on the metal will protect it from moisture for years to come, eventually a tiny scratch or chip will compromise its protection. When you’re trapping water against a compromised area with leaves and debris, you’ll see rust develop rapidly.
Oil the Hinges
Cleaning and oiling the hinges on all doors, especially any bay doors installed for vehicle use, may seem like an inconsequential chore to the overall lifespan of your metal building. While it’s true that oiling the hinges won’t make the roof last longer or prevent storm damage, it is essential for easy access. If you store your vehicle inside the building as a garage, getting the door open as quickly as possible in an emergency could be the difference between life or death. Don’t let a stubborn or stuck door wait until there’s an urgent need to get into (or out of) the building.
Stay on Top of the Finish
Steel is strong and long-lasting, but only as long as it’s protected from moisture and the resulting rust that forms. Metal buildings feature powder coatings or durable spray coatings that look like paint but are much stronger. While these finishes can last up to 10 years with no re-touching, eventually they all begin to fade and may chip or peel. Re-coating your metal building when it’s just starting to fade and before any chipping can occur will protect the entire structure from rust.
Wash the Exterior Annually
Nothing wears the finish on a metal building out faster than letting a thick layer of grime form on the surface. The dirt itself isn’t that much of a problem, but it does feed and attract algae and moss growth. Algae and moss both put down tiny root-like structures to keep themselves anchored to the surface. Naturally, this isn’t great for the finish over the metal. Cleaning your metal building once per year with a low pressure washer will remove grime before any algae or moss get a chance to grow.
Make Immediate Repairs
Finally, take a look at the building’s general condition at least once every month. If you spot a tiny bit of rust or a hole forming in a panel, fix it within a few days rather than putting it off. Rust can spread rapidly in a fully metal structure, so letting tiny repairs go too long has a bigger impact than you might think. It only takes one small problem to quickly set off a chain of bigger ones.
With these chores, your metal building will age gracefully and need at little work as possible over its lifespan. Preserve your investment with just a few minutes each month and a slightly larger investment of time once a year or so.