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I have a pole home on a hill, and the steel poles keep getting covered with dirt when it rains, so they've started to rust.

I am desperate to do something. I was thinking of embedding the poles in concrete and creating a concrete floor underneath the house. Will this stop the poles from rusting? Or will the poles rust under the concrete?

The house was built around 1984.

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Are they painted? If not, I'd start there...sand/grind, prime, paint. –  DA01 Apr 9 '12 at 13:18
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2 Answers

Caveat: I have no idea what a "pole house" is. Google came up with a lot of Hawaiian construction that doesn't appear to be iron poles.

However, they make paint designed to prevent rust -- Rustoleum is one brand, but there are others. In New York City, it is common for landlords to paint iron fire escapes to prevent rust. That's where I'd start.

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Oil-based enamels "key" well to metal (better than latex) and are the go-to for protecting metal from oxidation. You will first need to remove all oxidation using some wet-dry sandpaper (or in extreme cases an angle grinder). There are products that will turn rust into primer; these can SOMETIMES help but really they're usually just a "quick fix", and in all cases you'll want something more than the layer these will give you.

As far as a more permanent fix, consider replacing these steel poles with galvanized metal. The galvanizing basically forms a protective layer of oxidation that is physically tough, and shields the metal from further destructive oxidation. Anything you'd use as a structural member exposed to the elements should have SOME form of protective coating already on it (or be made of an alloy that resists oxidation; stainless steel however is uncommon for major structural members).

In an oceanside climate, you can protect exposed metal by building a weather-tight box around the exposed part. This will prevent rain and saltwater mist from contacting the metal directly. You still will want to put a protective finish on the metal itself as a final barrier.

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