How Can I Make Sure That My Washers Do Not Corrode?

Corroded washers can bend, break, or become rusted to their fasteners. Find out how to avoid this problem with these tips.

A washer is a fabricated disk that is usually round and made of metal. It has a round opening in the middle of it. This opening is what allows it to be slid onto the threaded shaft of a screw or bolt. A washer is always positioned ahead of a nut when you're using a bolt or a screw. The purpose of a washer is to reduce vibration, provide a seal, help hold the fasteners in place, or to apportion pressure.

You probably use a washer everytime that you use a bolt and nut, or a screw and nut. Washers, which are also called spacers, come in a variety of sizes and types for all sorts of applications. There are flat, Bellville, split lock, toothed, fender, lock, sealing, and shoulder washers.

Other than becoming cracked or bent when they are used, the biggest damage that occurs with washers is that they can become corroded. Once they become corroded and rusty, they are easy to break. And, they can become rusted to the bolt, nut, or screw they are attached to.

Once that happens, then you're going to have to pry the corroded washer loose, clean the surface, dry it, and replace it with a new spacer.

Fortunately, not all washers are subject to corrosion. Take for example sealing washers. Their purpose is to seal around a bolt or a screw. They are normally made of rubber. Therefore, these rubber spacers can dry up and crack, or be ripped, but they cannot corrode or rust.

The same rules apply to washers that are made of nylon, plastic, felt, ceramic, leather, and hard fiber.

Typically, though, the washers you'll generally use are fabricated from some type of metal. To keep them from rusting, you can choose a washer that is resistant to moisture and other contaminants. One type of washer is made out of stainless steel, for example. There are also galvanized metal spacers that resist corrosion too.

If that's not an option, then you can protect the spacers you use by using a variety of different methods. Applying lubricating oil to a washer, for example, can help keep it free from moisture and other contaminants. The problem is, that once the oil is worn off of the washer, then it's subject to corrosion.

A better idea would be to use a product called WD-40 (TM). This product not only lubricates metal, but it also displaces water. (The initials "WD" stand for "water displacement". Supposedly, as the story goes, the inventors finally were successful with their fortieth try.) All you need to do is to spray the WD-40 (TM) on the washer, and it will be protected for quite some time.

Or, you can apply petroleum jelly to the top, as well as to the bottom, of the spacer to protect it. You can also use naval jelly successfully for this purpose.

If you don't have any oil or jelly on hand, you can spray the washers you're trying to protect with a shot of spray paint. Do this after you have tightened the bolt or screw, and then allow the paint to dry completely for the best protection.

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