How to Protect Against Road Salt
By Megan Wild
If you work in the farming industry, winter usually isn’t your busiest season. In spite of this, your equipment might still be at risk of corrosion due to road salt and grime that accumulates during the colder months. What can you do to protect your equipment from the corrosion caused by road salt? What steps should you take during the colder months to ensure your equipment continues to function efficiently throughout the year?
Store Your Equipment Properly
Unused equipment is still at risk for wintertime corrosion. You can prevent this, or at least postpone it by storing your equipment properly.
Provide a climate- and humidity-controlled indoor location to store your equipment during the off-season. This could be a barn or other enclosed building that is equipped with dehumidifiers or air conditioning that removes the humidity from the air. This dry, climate-controlled environment takes away the one thing that is necessary for salt corrosion — water.
Controllers and other electronic equipment are also at risk in humid environments, so creating a dry storage area allows you to protect your equipment even when it is not in use.
Wash and Dry Your Equipment After Each Use
If you are using your equipment during the winter months and you live and work in an area where snow and ice are common, chances are your equipment has been exposed to road salt. At the end of the day, take the time to wash off and dry your equipment to remove any salt that has accumulated. Pay special attention to the undercarriage of your equipment and any plow equipment you may use during the colder months. Salt and salty grime can easily make their way up into the undercarriage and cause damage if they’re not washed away.
For work vehicles and other equipment with enclosed cabins or painted exteriors, it might also be a good idea to look into wax or ceramic coatings for your equipment. They aren’t a perfect solution to protect against road salt, but they can help to keep the salt off your equipment long enough that you can wash it off before it starts to cause damage.
Invest in Corrosion-Resistant Materials
Utilizing corrosion-resistant materials can help to reduce the overall effect of corrosion and road salt by keeping the corrosive materials from reaching the corrosion-prone metal parts. These materials will vary depending on the individual application but can include:
Oil or grease — This is a temporary form of corrosion protection, but it can be easily reapplied. It works as a form of protection for moving parts that might not be able to be shielded with other surface protectants.
Paint — When applied to clean surfaces, paint can help to prevent corrosion, but it’s not always the most durable option. Impacts to the painted surface can create chips and scratches that can leave the uncovered spots vulnerable to corrosion.
Powder coating — Powder coating refers to coating the surface of the equipment with a durable powder that is then cured under heat to create a corrosion-resistant skin. Some of the advantages include its resistance to corrosion, durability, and high-quality finish that looks good in addition to being functional.
If it is an option, you can also look into choosing equipment that is made from naturally corrosion-resistant materials such as:
• Galvanized steel
• Stainless steel
These materials may need a higher initial investment, but they don’t require the same sort of maintenance or inspection that standard materials require. If you spend a lot of time working on salted roads, either as part of your farm or homestead or as a snowplow during the winter months, it might be a good idea to invest in the higher-quality materials initially.
There is no way to avoid exposing your equipment to road salt if you take it out during the winter months. The best thing you can do is take steps to protect your investment from the corrosion caused by road salt, either by washing it regularly, coating it with anti-corrosion materials, or reinvesting in new equipment that is made from naturally corrosion-resistant metals. You don’t need to stop working because winter has arrived, but you do need to protect your investment — and using anti-corrosion materials is a good way to do that.
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