The two most common questions that pop up in every welders’ head during the monsoon season are ‘can you weld when it is raining? Is it safe to weld while it is raining?‘ Well, it might seem like a relatively harmless thing to do to some of you, but it comes with many complications.
Welding involves exceptionally high temperatures awfully close to your face and hands, and the added unpredictability of the intensity and type of rain. Raindrops are not consistent either; their sizes vary. Sometimes, rain can spray fine mist-like precipitation while other times, it might come down hard with huge water droplets. These unpredictable and important factors can get you electrocuted at best and dead at worst.
Another common yet unanswered question, “can welding attract lightning?”
Welding while its raining or during a thunderstorm may have direct and immediate effects on your work. A thunderstorm means the whole package: thunder, lightning, and rain. Even though thunder is hardly capable of hurting someone explicitly, lightning compensates for it largely. Lightning strikes regions that are prone to the conduction of electricity.
The lightning in the sky wants to reach the zero potential ground through a conductor. Usually, these conductors are large trees with deep roots, swimming pools, or large and open fields. All these places and objects contain water, which is an excellent conductor of electricity.
Rainwater is a good conductor of electricity, so if you are welding in the rain using a high voltage current supply and handling extremely high amounts of heat, it might be a good idea to stop what you’re doing and let the storm pass.
It is noteworthy, however, that welding as a process does relatively little to attract lightning because it does not prove to be a good conductor of electricity to the ground. However, this does not mean that you can never get hit by lightning while welding. Lightning can strike anywhere, so stay cautious. You have been warned!
Can MIG Welding during the rain hurt you?
A MIG welder is already full of electricity, and you must not get wet or get water on your welder. Moreover, it works like a circuit; here, the wire moves through the weld gun and the lead while bringing a positive charge.
This positive charge flows through the base metal to the ground clamp, which completes the circuit, giving you a shock.
So, now what you must be thinking about is welding bad for you? Well, the answer will be different for every person and the situation. However, in all cases, you can weld safely if you understand the phrase “prevention is better than cure.”
Finally, is it safe to weld in the rain? Can You Weld In The Rain?
This is pure science. Under dry conditions, welding is done by using safety equipment, shielding the skin with various types of protective gear, and exercising extreme caution. Moreover, welding during the rain is nothing but dangerous. During wet conditions, your body and protective gear are entirely covered with water, and water is a good conductor of electricity. So, any ends left loose, or any crack in your caution might turn fatal really fast.
When the current touches the water on your body, it completes the electrical circuit that is required to pass current. That is terrible news. The completion of this circuit might do a lot of harm to you. You could get burnt, electrocuted, or might die on the spot, depending on the current level that passes through you. The shock might shake your internal organs and your central nervous system if you’re unlucky. It is best to exercise caution and stay inside until you are back with dry equipment, gloves, and skin.
How can you protect yourself if you are welding while it is raining?
How to weld safely when it is raining outside? The best way to go ahead is to wait for the storm, rain, or thunder to calm down and then begin working. But, if you really must keep working and a delay of any kind is not possible, you must adhere strictly to these tips:
If you are working on a relatively small project and will not take much time, it is a good idea to move your equipment and work inside. Once you do that, you’ll be free from the rain and can continue your work in peace. However, make sure that you do the work away from inflammable materials like paper, cloth, and fuels.
Wear protective gear
You need to wear the proper safety apparatus before welding in the rain. Make sure you’re wearing proper boots, thick rubber gloves, and not the ones made of leather. Make sure your boots are made of thick, hard rubber too. This adds a layer of extra security because it is your feet that touch the ground. Insulating your body from the ground is the first step towards protecting yourself from electric shocks.
Wipe the moisture off
Use a dry cloth or a tissue to wipe off the extra water droplets and moisture on your gear. Make sure your boots, gloves, and other equipment are completely dry before you use them.
Wear a raincoat
While welding in the rain, try to keep your body and clothes dry, you must wear a plastic raincoat. Avoid wearing cotton clothes. Make sure you wear a leather jacket or a plastic raincoat over your regular nylon clothes to reduce the risk of water seeping into your clothing. It also reduces fire risks. Use duct tape to seal the openings of your gloves, raincoat, and collar and prevent the water from seeping in.
Check for damage in cables and wires
This might be the most important tip of them all. Make sure that all the wires, cables, and other electrical joints are well insulated. Any naked wire without its insulation covering is very dangerous in the rain. When you are using your equipment, the current will flow through those wires, and if water touches it at a place where it is not protected by insulation, it could cause severe damage.
Use a DC voltage
Alternating current (AC) is about five more times dangerous than direct current (DC) in this scenario. It is crucial to understand that DC current reacts relatively less than AC when it is brought in contact with water at its vulnerable junctions. You also need to remember how to connect welding leads according to the application correctly.
Wipe off your sweat
Sweat on your skin is also a conductor of electricity because of the various salts and chemicals that are present in human sweat. Some people perspire heavily, other people not so much. It is generally a smart idea to keep wiping the sweat off your skin to maintain maximum security.
Try oxy welding
Welding can be done differently, too. The type of welding that doesn’t need electricity is by using an oxy-acetylene gas welder. It is also one of the most efficient ways to weld. Oxyacetylene uses a combination of acetylene gases and oxygen that is put into use by using a handheld torch, and the torch’s flame is unusually high, reaching temperatures of around 3200 degrees Celsius. The welder can alter this temperature according to his needs.
Read more about Types of Joints in Welding
Frequently asked questions
Is welding in the rain dangerous?
How can you weld when it’s raining? Its too dangerous, after all!
Welding in the rain or wet conditions is hazardous as your body and gear are drenched in water, and water is a good conductor of electricity, which means any loose end might turn fatal. So, it is highly advised not to weld when it is raining.
Can you weld underwater?
Yes! Apparently, scuba divers who are responsible for welding, repair ships that have sunk weld underwater all the time. These objects need to be welded underwater since you cannot take them out of the ocean to repair because of their huge size. You can weld underwater, but you must do it in controlled environments. It is done using extensive and expensive equipment that has been specially adapted to a marine environment.
What are the difficulties faced by welders at higher altitudes?
Higher altitudes mean lower temperatures and lower atmospheric pressure. This means that there is also a scarcity of oxygen at the top. Since burning and combustion require copious amounts of oxygen, working and welding at higher altitudes become a challenging task. Working at an altitude comes with its own dangers and risks, and hence the requirement for specialized equipment and safety gear. Only experienced welders are the ones who try their hand at welding in higher altitudes due to the need for extra expertise related to the procedure.
Working with fire is dangerous, as is. Working with molten metals with higher temperatures in the rain is a different league altogether. You should always be very cautious about your safety. In the worst-case scenarios, you get electrocuted. That could mean serious health concerns. It is better to stop your work and go inside until the storm passes and resume the job later. Unless you can’t stop working, refer to the points above and follow all of them.