How to Protect Your Steel Water Tower From the Harmful Effects of UV Corrosion

How to Protect Your Steel Water Tower From the Harmful Effects of UV Corrosionfeatured image

Posted on January 6, 2023 by Brent Phillips

The effects of ultraviolet rays on steel are an important consideration for a steel water tower’s design, construction, and maintenance. Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight is absorbed by the steel surface causing increased oxidation that can lead to corrosion.

When exposed to Ultraviolet (UV) rays, steel oxidizes quickly, resulting in rusting and weakening of the metal substrate—a process known as UV corrosion.

That severely reduces the lifespan of a steel water tower and leads to costly repairs or even replacement. To protect a water tower from the harmful effects of UV damage, you can take several steps to mitigate the impacts of UV rays on steel.

  • Understand the Physical Reaction of UV Rays of Steel
  • Perform Regularly Schedules NACE Inspections
  • Routine application of protective coatings

Understanding the Physical Reaction of UV Rays on Steel

First and foremost, it is crucial to understand UV rays’ impacts on steel and the role that radiation plays in corroding a water tower.

Steel consists of iron, carbon, manganese, chromium, and other elements that are vulnerable to oxidation when exposed to sunlight. In addition, UV rays also weaken the surface layer of steel, making it susceptible to further damage from other external weather factors like wind, rain, and ice.

Perform Regularly Scheduled NACE Inspections

The effects of UV corrosion on steel are devastating. It can lead to cracking, pitting, and other forms of degradation. That’s why it is vital to have the surface structure regularly inspected for any signs of damage.

Regularly scheduling NACE inspections on your steel water tower helps protect it from ultraviolet radiation and other corrosion processes. 

Areas affected by UV rays should get addressed using FDA-approved protective coatings as soon as possible. Steel structures that are not in use can also benefit from proper storage away from direct sunlight, helping to reduce the effects of UV rays on the structure.

Routine Application of Protective Coatings

Applying a protective coating designed to reflect UV rays and provide additional protection from corrosion is also essential. Suppose your municipality’s water tower is routinely checked for signs of rust or wear on the outside. In that case, it’s also a good idea to hire a team of protective coating experts to help preserve your community’s most precious asset on the inside. 

Regular maintenance on the interior is just as necessary as routine cleaning and painting on the exterior to prevent UV ray corrosion from occurring in the first place. By following these steps and properly maintaining your steel water tower, you can ensure that it remains safe and free from the effects of UV ray corrosion for many years.

Use One Team for Your NACE Inspections and Protective Coatings

By correctly understanding the effects of ultraviolet radiation on steel structures, you can take the necessary steps to protect your water tower and ensure it stands the test of time. The combined efforts of NACE inspections and the maintenance application of protective coatings to a structure’s external surfaces ultimately minimize the effects of UV corrosion.

If your municipality is ready to schedule a NACE Inspection, you can contact the team at Cunningham Inc. today by calling (602) 848-3030. Their certified NACE inspectors will thoroughly inspect the interior and exterior of your water asset. They will provide a comprehensive report and full-length uncut video from their remotely operated underwater vehicle.