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WELDING IN THE RAIN & IN DAMP CONDITIONS

wet railing to be welded

If you have just started your welding journey it can be pretty tempting to keep welding at all times of the day, it is during this time that welding in the rain might seem like the badass thing to do. But the reality can be quite dangerous, welding in the rain has a lot of risks associated with it. If you don’t take the proper precautions it can lead to serious health issues. Let’s take a look at all the information related to welding in the rain.

Can you weld while it is raining or in damp conditions? Yes, but welding outside will always be trickier when compared to inside and especially in the rain. Make sure you are taking all the safety precautions before you go ahead with the project and if possible, try to postpone the weld to another day. Make sure all your clothes and equipment dry and in good condition.

CAN WELDERS BE USED OUTDOORS

Although welding is considered largely an indoor activity and a lot of people even say that you shouldn’t try to weld outside. But the reality is that if you take care of a few things you can easily weld outside. Have you noticed construction workers welding outside on projects?

There are a few things you should keep in mind while welding outside, starting with your safety precautions and the protection for your welder and other tools.

The first thing, which is probably the most important when it comes to welding outside, is the weather. If it is lightning outside or if there is heavy wind then you probably should not weld that day.

Obviously clear skies are the best when it comes to welding, but make sure you are wearing the right protective gear when the sun comes out and it gets hot. One reason why wind is not preferred is that it will blow away the shielding gas from the weld pool, this is one of the reasons why stick welding is mostly preferred for working outdoors. Although when it is really stormy outside, even the stick welder might not do the job properly.

Some basic things to keep in mind during welding outdoors are keeping an eye around the working area. It is important that people without proper PPE are not wandering around you and to look for any threats like flammable objects around.

CAN WELDING MACHINE GET WET

I think the real question here is “should your welding machine get wet during welding?”. I think you must have guessed the answer by now. Electricity and water don’t go together and if your welder is exposed to moisture or water, it can malfunction or short circuit. You can be exposed to some serious electrical shocks if you are not careful.

What a lot of people do to protect their welding machine from rain is to use either a plastic tent or a covering on top of it if you are going to be working outdoors. The damage will not only be dangerous but also expensive.

Also keep in mind that you should be careful when the weather is foggy or moist as well, it is not just rain which can make your welder wet.

I have a whole article about can a welder shock here, which I would encourage you to read as well.

CAN YOU WELD WET METAL

Some welding techniques can be used on wet metals while some can’t. Although there is a whole different type of welding technique that you can use underwater as well, that requires a whole different skill set.

If we take the example of stick welding, once the arc has been struck, it doesn’t matter if there is a little water on the surface, you have to remember that the temperature at which the welding is happening is much higher than the boiling point of water. If you make sure that there is no contact with the electrode or the arc then you shouldn’t be worried.

But one thing to consider is the quality of the weld, the reason why it is recommended to clean the surface properly is for the welding quality to be the best.

MIG and TIG are not that tolerant to contaminants including moisture while stick can still be used on a lot more varied surfaces.

I have welded on some snowy and wet surfaces with MIG, and from that small experience, I would tell that the water ruins the bead creating porosity.

Also remember that even if you can weld wet surfaces it doesn’t mean that you should do it, it can lead to some serious electric shocks.

CAN YOU WELD IN THE RAIN

Reading everything above will surely make you wonder if it is possible at all to weld in the rain, I mean as I said electricity and water don’t go together right? Surprisingly it is possible to weld in the rain, both legally and technically. Although as I said your chances of getting seriously hurt due to an electric shock is pretty high.

The first question to answer here is about the legality of the whole situation, a lot of people think that welding in the rain is illegal but according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration it is not.

If we take a look at the 29 CFR 1926.351, 1926.354, and 1926.406(c) which basically entail the standards of using electric welding equipment, it doesn’t mention anywhere that it is illegal to weld in the rain, although it is recognized as a hazard under OSHA.

Although there is one technicality that makes it necessary for employers to provide any welders who are working under them with proper safety equipment and precautions, this has been stipulated under Section 5(a)(1) of OSHA.

It is to be noted that this section only applied to welders who have been employed under someone, if you are a hobbyist then it doesn’t apply to you.

Most people prefer to use stick welding when dealing with moist or unsuitable conditions. For example, if you are going to be using MIG or TIG welding during rainy weather there is a clear chance that the shielding gas will be blown away because of the wind.

WELDING IN WET CONDITIONS – SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

Once we have taken the legality out of the way we can talk about the actual welding part. I will once again urge anyone to delay your project by a day or two if it is raining. Although it is possible, it is not at all recommended that you weld in the rain. But if you have to do it might as well keep all the safety precautions.

  • The first thing you need to ensure is to be as dry as possible, you will be surprised to know that even sweat on your body can increase the chances of getting electrocuted. So if possible wear a raincoat and other waterproof clothing to be as dry as possible. You should be aware of the fact that sweat is more conductive than rainwater because of the presence of salts.
  • Another important step is to make sure that your ground clamp and weld leads are in good condition. To make it clear, you don’t want to be a part of the electrical circuit, trust me and the electricity passes through this circuit, and any cracks or wear and tear on them can expose you to the current as well.
  • If possible try using a cover to protect not just you but also your equipment, it can serve the dual purpose of keeping the workpiece dry which can lead to a better weld. remember that presence of moisture can lead to weld porosity and cracks in the final weld.
  • You can also use a mat or rubber cover underneath you to keep away from any wet surfaces.
  • Another smart thing to do would be to have someone along with your while you are doing the weld, just in case if some accident happens at least you will have someone to take the necessary steps.

GEAR TO WELD IN THE RAIN/DAMP CONDITIONS

The most important part of welding in the rain is your clothes as they will be the ones protecting you from becoming a part of the electric circuit. Make sure you are wearing good quality welding gloves as your hands are the first point of contact with the stick and welding gun. It is also very important to make sure that your gloves are not getting damp or wet either because of the rain or sweat.

Of course, this is important if you are welding in the rain but even on a hot sunny day, you can be vulnerable to electrical shocks because of the build-up of sweat inside the gloves.

The next important part of your gear is the use of a good pair of welding boots, if you don’t have specific welding boots you can easily go for a good pair of rubber boots. The reason why this is so important is that at the end of the day it is going to be the boots that protect you from getting an electric shock. The rubber soles in welding boots can increase your insulation from electricity.

But their purpose can be lost if they get wet so you need to make sure that your boots are dry and in a good condition when you are working.

And the last thing which I have already mentioned before is the clothing you will be wearing, you have to make sure that they are dry.

WELDING WHILE STANDING IN WATER

As I have mentioned countless times before, water is much more conductive than you, so if you are standing in water it can give easier access to the ground than the clamp and you can potentially become part of the circuit. If this happens, you can get seriously electrocuted.

I also talked about this in the previous section about the importance of wearing good welding boots, keeping your feet dry is how to increase your overall insulation.

IS IT SAFE TO WELD DURING A LIGHTNING STORM

Imagine holding a metal rod on top of your house during a lightning storm. Welding during lightning is basically you doing that. Now, no one can say whether you will get struck by lightning or not but I can surely say that doing this will increase your chances.

Other than the lightning, the rain and wind anyways will ruin the quality of your weld.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION

A lot of people will try to convince you that it is perfectly fine to weld in the rain because they have been doing it for so many years, but in reality, you only need to be unlucky once. That’s why it is important to have any question in your mind clear, I will try to address some of the most common queries below.

WHAT IS THE BEST WELDING METHOD TO USE IN THE RAIN?

Although out of MIG, TIG, and Stick welding, stick welding is considered to be the most suitable because of the lack of shielding gas used among other factors. I would say Oxyacetylene gas welding might be the way to go because of its lack of use of electricity. Another advantage of using this method is that you only need tinted glasses rather than a full welding mask.

WHY ARE WELDING BOOTS IMPORTANT?

As I have explained before, welding boots insulate you from the electricity being used in the welding process. that’s why you should make sure that your welding boots are in good shape and dry.

IS IT ILLEGAL TO WELD IN THE RAIN?

This is a common misconception among some people, according to OSHA welding in the rain is a hazard but not illegal and the employer just has to provide the necessary safety equipment and precaution.

CONCLUSION

To sum it all up, welding in the rain can be quite dangerous and you should take all the safety precautions before doing so. make sure all your equipment and clothing gear are dry and in good condition, also try to use a cover while doing the weld. Remember that it is possible to weld in the rain, but the final result might not be as good. Make sure your ground clamp and lead are in good condition as well.