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Buying a badly corroded building previously used by pool supply company

March 6, 2012

Q. I am looking at an Industrial building that was used by a pool supply company for 10 years for my business. They bottled muriatic acid. They actually cut full strength hydrochloric acid with water to produce muriatic pool acid.

Every bit of metal in the building is rusty or corroded. The galvanized conduits, door hinges, fire sprinkler pipes, flex conduit, roof rafter hangars and copper water pipes are all corroded or rusty.

Some concrete was replaced and other areas are deeply etched. Also the expansion joints in the floor show continuing reaction from the acid, even after months of the building being vacant.

The last tenant in an effort to cover up the damage ground off most of the rust and painted over it.

I was told that wood will absorb acid fumes and slowly release them over periods of years. This was somewhat confirmed because a water pipe was leaking above the office area and the smell of acid was present. No smell was present prior to the leak. Probably the acid activated from the wood studs coming in contact with water?

Does anyone know anything about the long term effect of wood exposure to this acid is? I worry as my business makes many small steel and aluminum parts and I don't want the environment to destroy my product.

Randy James
- Pasadena, California

March 7, 2012

Hi Randy.

Several readers on letter 41883 claimed that the acid reacts and then is gone. I think this is largely true, based on successful experience filling and topping plating shop floors that were corroded all the way to a lumpy and broken gravel surface; however, it would seem that the chloride is still everywhere.

What concerns me more is the possibility of ground contamination. I do not think you should buy a building that evidences chemical use without an environmental assessment. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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