Stainless Steel Pools: Q&A on Composition and Corrosion Resistance
Stainless steel is by far the most durable and trouble-free material available for use in a swimming pool, spa or aquatic environment. Stainless steel is known for its classic look, strength, hygienic properties and resistance to corrosion. Not to mention they construct buildings, bridges, commercial kitchens and even those fancy appliances everyone wants in their homes.
The life expectancy of stainless steel is measured in a span of decades, not years (which is a good indicator of high-quality material). In order to understand how stainless steel can be used in the aquatic environment, it is necessary to understand the origin of stainless steel and how it chemically responds to certain environmental and man-made conditions.
Below we will answer a few common questions about stainless steel composition and corrosion:
What exactly is stainless steel and will it corrode over time?
Stainless steel is a common chromium/nickel alloy steel used in thousands of products from ocean-going yachts to tableware. In most aquatic environments, stainless steel will not rust or stain, even after many years of service.
There are some chemicals that can corrode stainless steel, but these chemicals do not appear in high enough concentrations in pool environments to affect this alloy. When properly installed and maintained, a stainless steel pool will remain rust and corrosion free.
What makes stainless steel corrosion resistant?
The general corrosion resistance of stainless steel is achieved by the use of chromium as an alloying element. The chromium combines with oxygen to form a thin transparent protective film on the surface of the steel. In the case of stainless steel, this oxide film is quite stable and actually protects the steel in normal atmospheric or mild aqueous environments.
Although this protective layer is quite tough, it can be pitted or broken down by the presence of the concentrated halide salts (chlorine, bromine, iodine) used to disinfect pool water. Corrosion can be prevented by implementing a regular cleaning program to prevent the buildup of halide salts on surfaces that aren’t submerged in the water.
How do I clean the exposed stainless steel?
To clean the steel, flush with water and wipe dry all stainless steel railings, bulkhead trim sections, exposed edges of stainless steel gutter systems and other areas that are not regularly submerged. You can also regularly wipe down these surfaces with a soft rag lightly coated with Natare SS SuperClean (our patented stainless steel polish), lemon oil polish or silicone spray.
Does pool chemistry effect the early onset of corrosion?
Rusting, staining or corrosion problems are almost always linked to chemical concentration or pH. In many pools, chemical levels are frequently too high and chemical consumption is much greater than that required for proper operation. By adjusting these levels to a proper chemical balance, you will greatly reduce the risk of corrosion.
Additionally, the cleaning products and chemicals you use to treat your swimming pool decks and other surrounding areas can also lead to staining or rusting problems if these materials find their way into the pool. Do your best to avoid products that contain or produce halide salts.
Do you have a stainless steel pool? What is your regular cleaning and maintenance routine?
If you have more questions, feel free to contact us!