Florida condo compromised by corrosion, engineer says

Moisture and metal are like oil and water – they don't mix very well. County officials in Florida are finding out just how true this is upon learning that a condo complex is riddled with corrosion that could compromise residents' safety.

Late last month in the city of Celebration, Osceola County officials hired an engineer to inspect the steel columns at Spring Park Terraces, one of the buildings in Celebration Condos. The professional's findings confirmed their worst fears. In a report obtained by WKMG News 6, the analysis showed that the steel columns used in the complex' balconies were corrosion infested, so much so that they're at risk of collapsing. This, of course, could lead to serious injury should tenants be inside at the time.

"[The balconies] may fail catastrophically in the near future and thus requires immediate replacement," the engineer wrote, according to WKMG News 6.

Perhaps the biggest mystery is the condominium is fairly new, built in 2003, the report said. Corrosion is influenced by age and the impacts of wear and tear over time. Although the cause has not yet been officially determined, county officials said the adverse effects are likely linked to abundant moisture, which has been building up in and around the steel columns, an environment where corrosion thrives.

Stay at your own risk
Despite the risk of a collapse, property owners aren't being forced to leave their units. Officials in Osceola County told the station that tenants have been informed of the issue but can decide for themselves whether they want to relocate for the time being or stay and hope for the best.

"While corrosion can't be avoided entirely, there are ways of controlling it."

While corrosion can't be avoided entirely, there are ways of controlling it and diminishing its growth. As noted by NACE International, coating and linings are the first line of defense against corrosion. They're both cost effective and can be applied in a host of environments and surfaces.

An increasingly popular corrosion control method is Cathodic Protection, or CP. This uses electrical currents to stave off corrosion from developing on new metal installations and can dampen its expansion on existing structures through electrochemistry.

Perhaps the most basic strategy for corrosion control is when the building is in the development phase. according to NACE International. Wherever possible, corrosion-resistant materials should be used, such as stainless steel and special alloys, rather than steel-reinforced concrete.