Aluminum is one of the most widely used metals in manufacturing boat components. It is affordable, lightweight, almost maintenance free, and easy to repair. However, like most metals, aluminium is susceptible to corrosion when exposed to certain factors such as salt water, chlorine, and corrosive chemicals. Learning how to take care of your boat can protect it from rust and extend its usable life. Read on to find out more about aluminium corrosion and how to protect your boat from it.
Causes of corrosion
Naturally, aluminium forms a dense oxide layer when exposed to oxygen, and this gives it a natural resistance to corrosion. However, certain factors can compromise the oxide layer and expose the metal beneath to corrosion. Here are some of these factors:
- Contact with dissimilar metals
Most boat manufacturers ensure that they do not use dissimilar metals in the construction of boats as this can cause a galvanic reaction. However, most boaters expose their aluminium boats to other metals during storage and operation. In the presence of salty water, this can dissolve the aluminium.
- Prolonged exposure to salty water
When the aluminium boats are used for long periods without cleaning, salt water can collect on the hull where there are crevices. Over time, the salt compromises the oxide layer and slowly corrodes the metal.
- Lack of oxygen
An oxide layer can only be formed in the presence of oxygen. It is possible to starve your boat of oxygen if saltwater sits on the hull for a long time. The salt can easily break down the existing oxide layer and cause the metal to rust.
How to prevent corrosion
It is possible to protect your aluminium boat from corrosion even when using it in salty sea water. Here are some of the ways you can do this:
- Clean regularly
Clean your boat regularly with fresh water and a non-abrasive soap. Pay attention to areas with crevices such as the hull where salty water can collect. Avoid cleaning solutions and paint removers with acidic compounds, chlorine, sulfurs, and solvents as they can corrode the metal as well.
- Paint your boat
The oxide layer formed on the surface of the aluminium surface makes it unnecessary to paint your boat. However, painting it can create a protective coating which will prevent exposure of the metal to corrosive elements.
- Keep the boat dry
There will be no corrosion if there is no moisture; therefore, keep your boat clean and dry at all times. You can occasionally lift the floor and check the hull. Replace your floor carpet with a plastic one which can't soak in saltwater when wet.
Proper maintenance of your aluminium boat can protect or from corrosion. However, if you notice signs of rust, contact a marine service who can help eliminate the rust and protect your boat from extensive damage from corrosion.