Case Study: Solving a Rust Problem on a Cold, Wet Cooler Ceiling

In industries like food service, food and animal processing, manufacturing, or marine environments such as ship yards, coatings play and integral role in both the safety and function of many surfaces. For surfaces that are immersed in liquid or where deterioration can impact the structural integrity of a building, having the right coating is instrumental to preventing a possible catastrophe.

In food service and processing, improper coatings could lead to potential consumer crisis should a substance like rust get into food products. In the case we are examining for this post, the ferrous metal ceiling in a retail meat cooler was exhibiting extreme rust. The result of typical condensation forming on a surface that had previously been inadequately and improperly coated, the rust was beginning to raise concerns about possible health code issues.

Though the water purification plant we featured last year and a meat cooler are comparatively different environments, the issues these two projects faced called for a very similar solution – a high solid epoxy used for heavy rust. Macropoxy 646, the product used on both jobs, is an ideal coating solution for any surface with heavy condensation or water exposure, chemical exposure, or heavy rust. It can be used as a standalone coating or under another product such as polyurethane in areas where the surface is exposed to ultraviolet radiation. Additionally, Macropoxy 646 can be used as a coating for immersion service, making it ideal for even the toughest marine and manufacturing environments.

For this project on Cape Cod, all food products were removed from the space prior to commencement, and the cooler and fans were shut down. Though the work can be done with the cooler at its normal operating temperature, in this case a shutdown was necessary to eliminate the condensation that was causing the rusting issues to begin with.

However, even with the cooler turned off our crew was still left working in a fairly frigid environment. But while working in a cold environment certainly presents challenges, in any case where Macropoxy is involved the challenge of air quality control is much greater.

Because we were working in a retail food environment, containing Macropoxy 646’s pervasive smell was imperative. Negative containment of our work area was created – plastic was hung over doorways with zippers used to enter/exit the space. A large air scrubber with plastic tubing and sheathing was used to pull clean air in to the space and push dirty air to be vented outdoors. This system not only prevented the smell from permeating into other areas where food is stored, or even to public areas, but also promoted adequate drying.

With containment in place and the condensation eliminated from the work surface, our team got to work scraping all loose and flaking surface rust, then wire brushed and dusted the area before applying the first coat of Macropoxy 646 to the most heavily rusted areas. After allowing for adequate dry time – in this case overnight – a second full coat of Macropoxy 646 was applied the entire ceiling surface.

Though the work itself only took two nights, the air scrubber was left running for the first few days after the job was done to remove any residual smells and promote curing. When all was said and done, and with extremely minimal disruptions to their operations, the customer was left with a coating that will resist moisture and condensation and inhibit future rusting, thereby eliminating any health concerns related to rust.

If you are noticing similar issues with rust in your business, our expert team highly recommends you address the issue as soon as possible. This kind of preventative maintenance can not only save you from major problems down the road, but can also save you a good deal of money in the re-coating process.

For a free estimate, call us at 844.272.4724 or submit an appointment request online.