Home » Remedies for your rusting lally column in basement

What are lally columns?

Lally columns, also known as Lolly columns or steel support columns, are vertical structural elements commonly used in construction to provide support and load-bearing capacity for beams, floors, ceilings, and other structural components. They are often found in basements, crawl spaces, and other areas where additional support is needed to distribute the weight of a building or its components.

Lally columns are typically made of steel and consist of a cylindrical or square-shaped shaft with a flat base and a flat or slightly flared capital (top). They are designed to bear the load from above and transfer it to the foundation or ground below. Lally columns can be adjustable or fixed in length, depending on the specific construction requirements.

These columns are essential for maintaining the structural integrity of a building, especially in situations where large spans or heavy loads need to be supported. They are commonly used in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings to provide additional strength and stability.

It’s worth noting that the term “Lally column” is sometimes used generically to refer to any type of steel support column, regardless of the specific brand or manufacturer. The name “Lally column” is derived from the name of the original inventor, John Lally, who patented the design in the late 19th century.

Read more: How to design a steel column?

What are the reasons for rusting lally column in your basement?

Lally columns can rust in a basement or any other environment for several reasons, primarily related to exposure to moisture and corrosive elements. Rusting occurs when the steel in the column reacts with oxygen and moisture, forming iron oxide (rust). Here are some common reasons for rusting of lally columns in a basement:

  1. Water Seepage: If your basement experiences water leaks, flooding, or poor drainage, the presence of standing water or moisture can accelerate the rusting process of the lally columns.
  2. Moisture and Humidity: Basements are often more humid and damp than other parts of a building due to their underground location and potential water seepage. High levels of moisture in the air can contribute to the corrosion process.
  3. Condensation: Temperature fluctuations between the basement and the outside environment can lead to condensation forming on the surface of the columns. This continuous cycle of moisture and drying can contribute to rust formation.
  4. Chemical Exposure: Basements may contain chemicals or substances that contribute to corrosion, such as cleaning agents, paints, or other materials that release corrosive fumes.
  5. Lack of Protective Coatings: If the lally columns were not properly coated or painted with a protective layer, they are more susceptible to rusting.
  6. Ventilation and Air Circulation: Inadequate ventilation in the basement can trap humid air and prevent proper air circulation, creating an environment conducive to rust formation.
  7. Groundwater: Depending on the groundwater level in your area, lally columns that come into contact with the ground may be exposed to moisture, which can accelerate rusting.
  8. Age and Wear: Over time, even properly maintained lally columns may develop rust as they age and are exposed to environmental factors.

What you can do to prevent rusting on lally column in basement?

To prevent or minimize rusting of lally columns in your basement, consider the following steps:

  • Regular Inspection: Periodically inspect the condition of the columns for signs of rust or deterioration.
  • Proper Drainage: Ensure your basement has proper drainage systems in place to prevent water accumulation and seepage.
  • Ventilation: Improve air circulation and ventilation in the basement to reduce humidity levels.
  • Coatings and Paint: Apply a rust-resistant coating or paint to the columns to provide a protective barrier against moisture.
  • Waterproofing: Consider applying waterproofing treatments to the basement walls and floor to reduce moisture penetration.
  • Address Leaks: Promptly address any leaks or water issues in the basement to prevent prolonged exposure to moisture.
  • Elevate Columns: If feasible, raise the columns slightly above the ground level to reduce contact with moisture. (something like in the picture shown below)
Raised lally columns in foundation to prevent rusting

how to repair rusting lally column in basement?

Repairing a rusting steel column in a basement involves several steps to address the rust and restore the structural integrity of the column. Here’s a general guide on how to repair a rusting steel column:

Note: Before you begin any repair work, it’s recommended to consult with a structural engineer or a professional contractor. He or she can assess the extent of the rust damage and to ensure that the repair approach is appropriate for your specific situation.

  1. Assessment and Safety Precautions:
    • Inspect the column to assess the extent of rust damage. Determine whether the rust is superficial or if it has compromised the structural integrity of the column.
    • Ensure proper safety precautions are in place, such as wearing protective gear like gloves and safety goggles.
  2. Clean the Surface:
    • Remove any loose rust, dirt, and debris from the column using a wire brush, sandpaper, or a mechanical sander.
    • Clean the surface using a mild detergent and water to remove grease, oil, and other contaminants.
  3. Rust Removal:
    • If the rust is extensive, you may need to use a rust converter or rust-neutralizing solution to chemically convert the rust into a stable compound. Follow the product’s instructions for application.
    • For severe rust, you may need to use a power tool like a grinder with a wire brush attachment to remove thick layers of rust. Be careful not to remove too much material.
  4. Surface Preparation:
    • Once the rust is removed, sand the surface to create a smooth, clean, and slightly rough texture. This will help paint adhere better.
  5. Priming and Painting:
    • Apply a rust-inhibiting primer to the cleaned and prepared surface. Make sure to choose a primer specifically designed for metal surfaces.
    • After the primer dries, apply multiple coats of rust-resistant paint. Use a paint that is suitable for outdoor or industrial applications. Apply the paint evenly and allow sufficient drying time between coats.
  6. Protective Coating:
    • Consider applying a protective coating, such as an epoxy or polyurethane sealant, over the painted surface to provide an additional layer of protection against moisture and corrosion.
  7. Preventative Measures:
    • Address any underlying issues that may have contributed to the rusting, such as improving basement ventilation, fixing leaks, and addressing drainage problems.
    • Regularly inspect and maintain the column to identify and address any signs of rust or deterioration early.
  8. Professional Consultation:
    • If the rust damage is extensive or has significantly compromised the structural integrity of the column, it’s crucial to consult with a professional engineer or contractor. They can provide guidance on the best repair approach or whether the column needs to be replaced.

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