Rust and corrosion buildup can make a metal chain link fence look dilapidated well before its time. It can also weaken the fence as time passes, making it more vulnerable to severe and costly damage. Fortunately, a little prevention can go a long way towards protecting residential fences. The following offers a few tips you can use to keep rust and corrosion from ruining your chain link fence.
Keep It Clean
Keeping up good appearances isn't the only reason to keep your chain link fence clean. The longer dirt and grime lingers on the surface of your fence, the more vulnerable it becomes to rust and corrosion. Not only is dirt and debris potentially abrasive, but it could also contain a variety of chemical compounds that encourage rust and corrosion buildup.
All it takes to keep your chain link fence clean is a bucket of warm water and a few drops of mild dish detergent. You can use a soft-bristled scrub brush to work the soap and water between each link, and then hose the entire fence down with your garden hose. You can also use a pressure washer and several gallons of pre-mixed cleaner to quickly remove dirt and grime from your fence.
If you do spot early signs of rust or corrosion buildup, you should have it removed as soon as possible. A small piece of steel wool or fine-grit sandpaper can remove minor rust buildup, while commercial rust removal products offer better results for larger areas.
Add Rust Protection
Cleanliness isn't the only way to prevent rust from showing up on your chain link fence. You can also protect your fence by coating it with a rust inhibitor. Rust inhibitors work by creating a protective layer between the bare metal and the various chemical and elemental forces that cause oxidation. This essentially slows down the rate at which metal rusts or corrodes by a large degree.
If you have a chain link fence made from galvanized steel, then you're probably wondering why additional rust protection would be necessary. Although galvanized steel offers some measure of protection against rust and corrosion, it's not uncommon for the protective zinc coating to wear out over time. Because of this, it's usually a good idea to treat your chain link fence with a rust inhibitor.
Many outdoor paints contain rust inhibitors. If you plan on revamping the appearance of your chain link fence with a new coat of paint, you'll also have the perfect opportunity to safeguard your fence against rust and corrosion buildup.
Watch Out for Damage
Believe it or not, but those unsightly scratches on your chain link fence could turn into a starting point for rust or corrosion. Chips and cracks in old paint can also reintroduce rust to your fence if left untouched. A cut end from a recent repair can also harbor rust buildup, especially if the ends are not painted over immediately afterwards.
Needless to say, any sort of damage that exposes the bare metal of your chain link fence can leave it vulnerable to rust and corrosion. Fortunately, you can avoid damaging your fence by taking the following precautions:
- Don't let vines and other plants grow on the fence unless the correct support structures are used. Vines and branches can cause the top rail and other portions of your fence to sag under their weight.
- Don't use your fence as a drying rack for rugs and other heavy objects. Not only does this damage the top rail, but the prolonged exposure to moisture could also trigger rust and corrosion.
- Don't climb over the fence, as doing so could lead to a bent top rail and other portions of your fence suffering damage.
Unfortunately, there are times when damage is unavoidable—for instance, a severe storm that uproots part of your chain link fence or causes a tree to topple over onto the fence. Regardless of the type of damage, repairs should be made as soon as possible to keep rust and corrosion at bay.