You must have lived those days when you planned to do something but nature has some other plans. For instance, you may have a welding project on hand, but as you step out for the work, you see those dark clouds gathering in the sky, with the cold grass sparkling with the water droplets, the question that would come to your mind is, can you weld in the rain? Well, in the absence of any safety precautions, the answer would be a straight “No.”
Even if you ask professional welders, they would tell you they have felt the electric shocks numerous times while welding in wet conditions. But not all of them might have lived to share their story with you because welding in wet conditions can be an invitation to death by the electric shock.
However, you can weld in the rain, but it does require some precautions. This article will look at the tools, protections, and overall thoughts about welding in wet conditions.
Let’s start with the risks associated with welding in the rain.
RISKS OF WELDING IN WET CONDITIONS
I can get a jolt.
Almost all of the welding machines except gas welders run on electricity, and welding in wet conditions would result in the welding arcs catching the current, which would be the story’s end.
Besides the welding machines, most other objects around you are metals during the welding project. The current through the welding machine can travel into those objects, which, if touched, would give you or others working in your team an electric shock.
In the rain, there is a high possibility that the water may stand on the ground where you are standing with your welding arc. The electrical wires may come in contact with that water, and if those wires are not adequately covered, they can catch the current, which would make you the path to complete the circuit and would undoubtedly be fatal.
Water damages the metal.
The fact cannot be ruled out that welding in wet conditions can damage your welding equipment due to the dampness. This damage can be lasting because the metal can be slowly and gradually eaten out by the rust long after the rainy season.
Let’s discuss some science! Lightning is an electric current with the same properties (only with greater strength) as the electric current around us, so it is attracted to the region with the potential to conduct the electric current.
The rainwater is a good electricity conductor because of the presence of ions in it, and together with the wet electrical equipment and a damp human body, it would be a complete package for attracting a lightning strike.
Moisture affects the welding joints.
While welding in wet conditions, there would be moisture on the surface of the metal to be welded as well as on the welding arc, and when you will start welding, the heat would breakdown water into hydrogen and oxygen, resulting in void spaces commonly known as porosity left in the welding joints.
Sweat is a good conductor of electricity.
Even if it is not raining, it does not mean that welding conditions are arid. You got it right. We are talking about perspiration. Sweat contains sodium cations and chloride anions, making it a good conductor of electricity.
Welding is a strenuous task, and in the presence of all the heating and metals, the environment gets warmer, resulting in a lot of sweating. And welding with sweaty palms or gloves can turn your skin into a good conductor of electricity.
There may be situations when there is a dire need, or you have to meet the deadline and do not want to halt the task of welding in wet conditions, then here are some preventive measures.
Can You Weld In The Rain: Safety Tips
Do the job under the shelter.
If you are working on a small project, bringing all the necessary equipment and workpiece under the shelter is a good idea. Because thunder and water can harm you and ruin your project, you can use waterproof tents to protect your work from rain and thunderstorms and do your job with peace of mind.
Reschedule your job.
The deadlines are important, but your safety always comes first. It is better and recommended to postpone the project when it is pouring outside and reschedule your work. You can look at the weather forecasts to avoid the hassle of winding up the project on an emergency basis.
Wear proper rain gears.
Whether doing a job outside or inside, wearing all personal protective equipment (PPE) during your job is necessary. However, in the rainy weather, you need to be extra cautious to wear rubber gloves instead of casual leather ones and thick rubber boots. By doing so, you can isolate yourself from the ground and avoid potential electric shocks efficiently.
By wearing a proper hooded rubber raincoat over your helmet, you can concentrate more on your work and eliminate electrocution.
Keep your equipment dry.
As it is mentioned earlier that moister causes porosity. So, to prevent weak or bad joints, thoroughly wipe all the moisture from the workpiece and tools. Preheating the metal would be a good idea.
Keep wiping the sweat that might accumulate in your gloves, helmet, or raincoat to prevent any severe jolt and protect your workpiece from contamination.
Check wires and cables.
Ensure that all electrical wires, cables, and joints are protected with insulation. Any wire that is not correctly insulated is very dangerous. The current will flow through those wires when equipment is in use, and if water touches an unprotected area, it could cause severe damage.
Always use direct current.
This is the most important tip. Using direct current (DC) during welding in the rain is essential because alternate current (AC) is more dangerous and reacts abruptly if contacted with water. It would also help if you properly connect the welding leads according to the application manual.
1- What happens when you weld in the rain?
Rainwater contains ions, and this makes it a good conductor of electricity. Most of the welding machines, except the gas welders, work on electricity, and when used in the rainwater, the welding arcs may catch the electric current giving you an electric jolt.
Moreover, due to moisture in the atmosphere, the heat from the welding arc would break the water down into hydrogen and oxygen. This would result in welding cracks in the joints.
2- Can you weld while standing in water?
You can work while standing in the water if you are completely dry. Water pouring over directly while welding can cause severe electric shock.
However, if the rain stops and you want to weld in a puddle of water, you can start but ensure that all the equipment is dry. Remeber to wear your rubber boots and proper protective gear to prevent electrocution.