When you think about welding in the rain, you probably assume that it’s not a good idea. This assumption is usually correct. In the majority of situations, welding in wet conditions is not something that you should take on. If you can, you should delay the job until a later date. This isn’t possible for everyone, though, and welding isn’t always something you can put off. Emergency repairs might need you to weld there and then, regardless of whether it is raining or not. OSHA standards don’t actually make it illegal to do so. However, there are so many different things to consider when it is time to weld and it is raining outside.
You can take many different precautions, and this is not something to take lightly, you can end up doing yourself serious damage if you go out there without the right type of protection. Whether it’s attracting lightning during a thunderstorm or increasing your chances of getting a nasty electric shock, you can find that you are in serious danger.
Standards of welding in wet conditions
Can you weld in the rain? Yes, but there are many considerations. Electricity and water don’t mix. OSHA standards do not explicitly prohibit workers from welding in the rain, though. There are some situations where it is essential to weld, whether it is raining or not. If this is the position you find yourself in then you may have to go ahead.
What you do need is to take strong precautions and ensure that you’ve got the right equipment. OSHA standards also recommend that you only weld in wet conditions when it’s really necessary. The risk to your life is not worth taking if you can avoid it.
There are loads of risks associated with welding if you do not do it with enough caution and use the right safety gear. The electrical current that is running through these welders is probably not going to kill you if you do get shocked, but nobody can say this for sure. On top of this, it is likely to cause you serious pain or even long-term injury.
What you need to weld in the rain
You need all the equipment you would normally use…and more. Whether you are using a simple 120V welder for home use or an industrial model, you need to make sure it is up to the job, with the appropriate grounding so that it doesn’t cause you a shock. Protective equipment and clothing is a must. The best gloves are essential to make sure that your hands are protected and don’t come into contact with electrical currents, but if they do you still need to make sure you have some protection. Good gloves alone won’t protect you.
- Do not weld in a thunderstorm. This is not something to take any risks with. If you’re going to go out in a thunderstorm with a welder then you may even increase your chances of getting struck by lightning due to the metallic elements within.
- Do not weld in heavy winds. This is especially true with TIG and MIG systems, as the strong winds can blow away the shielding gas meaning instability. This can mean a really poor-quality joint.
- It’s not just rain to worry about. If you get wet, especially anywhere that you come into contact with the welder, then the water can act as a conductor and shock you. It’s not something that you should take chances with. Good gloves and appropriate protective clothing make a big difference. As well as rain getting on these, you can be at risk if you get excessively sweaty or you are in a humid location. Electric shock can travel through the clothing if it is wet.
- The welder itself shouldn’t get wet. This is easier said than done when it comes to welding in the rain. Keeping the welder dry is going to be one of the biggest challenges you come across. If you’re using a MIG or TIG or a stick welder, you can create some form of roof. You should look to use a tent or tarpaulin that will repel the water, just make sure it doesn’t have leaks or provide any way in. Similarly, you might need to keep it at a higher level if the water is building up on the ground. Try to elevate the machine using plywood or a stand.
- Use DC voltage if it is wet. You’ll find that this is far less dangerous than AC currents. In fact, it is around five times less dangerous, so it makes sense to switch to a DC power supply if your welder can handle it.
- Check the welder before setting up. You shouldn’t use the welder if it has any visible signs of loose cabling or frayed connections where water could come into contact with the electricity and cause a shock.
- Wick away the moisture. Whether it’s sweat or rain water, make sure that you have a system for getting the moisture away from your body. Preferably, you should do the welding in a sheltered area. If this isn’t possible, you might want to use rags and cloths to remove the sweat periodically.
- Postpone the job. If you can, if it is not an emergency, our advice is to postpone. This can be frustrating, but unless it is a real emergency then it simply isn’t worth the risk of working in the rain.
Welding in the rain by type
There are a number of different types of welding. Different welders do things differently. A TIG welder like this model from LOTOS is great for power efficiency, and usually for safety, but there still aren’t any specific types of welding that are 100% safe in the rain.
MIG welding involves Metal Inert Gas that uses a feed wire to move a spark through the welding gun. It’s not a good idea to do this sort of welding in the rain if you can avoid it. If you have no choice then you can take some precautions. Mig welding is sometimes referred to as GMAW welding. The creation of the spark by the gun, combined with the fact that these models of welder have quite high electric currents running through them, means that they can be a difficult product to use in the rain, and the precautions you need to take are even more severe for this type of welder.
TIG welding uses long rods of tungsten inert gas which fuses the metal pieces together. Though it doesn’t have the same spark, the same recommendation applies. Don’t weld using this method in the rain if you can possibly avoid it. TIG welding creates quality joins on aluminum as well as a variety of other metals.
If you’re welding in the rain and you have a choice of different styles of welding, go for Oxy welding for the safest results. It’s still not 100%, but if you can, it’s a good idea to use this method.
An oxyacetylene welder doesn’t use electricity. Instead, it uses oxygen and gas to create a high temperature that you can then use to meld pieces of metal together.
There are lots of hazards that go along with oxy welding, of course, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t the best choice for welding in the rain.
Arc welding involves a lot of skill. It is a way to heat metal to extreme temperatures and in doing so create a simple method to join two pieces of metal together. It’s more of a specialist type of welding and requires a lot of skill. Some of the top aluminum welders on the market are great for use as arc welders. The metals melt together and you can create a join. When it cools to a lower temperature then these metals will be set in their new position.
Like most other types of welding, doing this in the rain is not something that we would advise you to do if you can avoid it, but it isn’t 100% forbidden by OSHA guidelines.
There are many people who incorrectly assume that there are regulations against welding when it is wet out. Having read through this guide, it will come as no surprise to you that welding in the rain is not something we recommend, but it is not expressly forbidden anywhere.
This means that welding can continue in the rain, but there is no point in taking excessive risks.
For a start, make sure you don’t weld in a thunderstorm as this can cause much higher chances of injury. Switch to DC power, and make sure you take a number of precautions with what you are wearing to greatly reduce the risks of getting electrocuted. All of this while still taking the precautions needed so that you don’t burn yourself. Welding in wet conditions doesn’t have to spell catastrophe if you take the right precautions.