How to Prevent Rust on Your Shipping Container
Mar 2024

How to Prevent Rust on Your Shipping Container

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Shipping containers are typically built out of strong industrial-grade steel walls, so they are incredibly durable and can withstand even the most extreme weather.

However, despite the extreme strength of such steel, it does have one notable vulnerability: rust. When a metal like steel is exposed to any kind of moisture, the iron atoms in it react with the oxygen molecules in the air. This leads to the formation of iron oxide, which is also known as “rust.”

There are a number of reasons why rust formation occurs over time on shipping containers, since there are many different ways that the metal walls of a container can be exposed to moisture, despite being watertight.

Of course, the main cause of rust is mere exposure to moisture through rain or condensation. Still, exposure to saltwater can be particularly bad for rust formation, accelerating its development.

In addition, temperature changes can result in a container’s metal expanding and contracting, which creates tiny cracks and crevices that trap moisture where rust can form. The same thing can happen if there are any scratches or dings on the container’s surface.

Why is it important to prevent rust formation?

It is crucial to prevent a steel shipping container from rusting, as, in addition to making the unit unsightly, rust can weaken its structural integrity. This will make it less durable over time, thus negatively impacting its longevity.

Rust can also lead to leaks and other damage. If such things occur, this could compromise the contents of your container, and the container itself may no longer be a viable storage option.

One of the best ways to prevent such problems and keep a storage container in good condition so that it can be used to its full potential is to keep rust at bay.

What is the best way to prevent and treat rust in a shipping container?

Although the two main ingredients for rust are air and water (and it is almost impossible to prevent a shipping container that is stored outside from coming into contact with these elements), there are strategies you can employ to counter the formation of rust.

Regardless of the size, type, age, or condition of your shipping container, if you use the following methods, you can prevent rust formation for the most part, and you can effectively treat any that does form.

1. Keep the container dry and ventilated

The most effective way to prevent rust is to keep your shipping container dry and well-ventilated. Thus, it would be best to store it in a dry and covered area so it is not exposed to rain. If any water gets into the container, ensure it is drained out immediately.

To encourage proper air ventilation, install two large air vents at the top and four smaller ones at the bottom of each side of the container. Such vents will allow hot air to escape at the top and cool air to get in from the bottom to increase the natural airflow.

2. Utilize a rust inhibitor or paint

A rust inhibitor is a chemical compound that you can apply to the surface of a shipping container to form a shield against moisture and rust. Various types of rust inhibitors can be used for this purpose, such as oil-based and water-based formulas. They all work by forming a barrier between the steel and outside elements.

Some types of paint can function in the same way, which you can utilize to stop rust from forming on your shipping container’s surface.

3. Use a cover

Another possible solution to rust is placing a cover on your container to prevent exposure to the elements. There are various shipping container covers to choose from, including fitted covers tailored to fit specific container dimensions and universal covers that can typically fit onto any standard-sized unit.

Just make sure that whatever cover you use does not leave any room for water to get in. Trapped moisture between the cover and a container will have the opposite effect and will lead to more rust.

4. Regularly inspect the container and spot remove any rust

It is necessary to regularly inspect the shipping container, both inside and out, so you can keep an eye out for the early stages of rust formation.

If you find any areas where rust has begun to form, use a wire brush or sandpaper to remove as much of it as possible. After that, you can apply a rust inhibitor or rust-inhibiting paint, as it will not properly adhere until this rust has been mostly removed.

5. Apply a rust converter

If you detect rust starting to form, applying a rust converter to these areas of your container is also a good idea. Doing so will convert the rust into a stable compound so that it will not continue to expand.

This method is best used on small areas of rust, and such a converter can function as a primer before you paint the container.

How Sigma Container Corporation Can Help You Find the Exact Shipping Container You Need

Whether you already have a shipping container that you are relying on to store your things or you are planning to use one for such a purpose in the future, the tips mentioned above can certainly be helpful to keep in mind.

If you are in the latter situation and are searching for shipping containers for rent, Sigma Container Corporation can help. We have a wide selection of both new and used high-quality shipping containers that are available either for purchase or for rent.

No matter what you have to store or how much of it there is, we are confident that we have a shipping container in stock that can accommodate your storage requirements. All of our units have been well-maintained and are clean and painted, so you can be confident in the condition of the container that will be handed over to you.

Our containers also feature padlock boxes to heighten their security so you can have peace of mind knowing your belongings will be kept safe.

For more information about our shipping containers for rent, or to learn more about how you can have one of our containers shipped directly to you, call Sigma Container Corporation at 855-340-3342 or contact us here.