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Do's and Don'ts in Welding

The ability to work with metal is an exciting and empowering experience. As a welder, you will have the ability to fashion some of the world's most durable materials into a product what is useful for others to use. This skill is used in auto manufacturing, road construction, building construction and the manufacture of weapons systems and vehicles. Here is a list of 100 dos and don'ts that apply to any MIG welding machine, TIG welder and plasma cutter.

Do's in Welding Machines 

  • Check and double check your work area for flammable materials. Make sure that there are no openings in the floor or cracked windows through which sparks can pass.
  • Remove flammable liquids and gasses from the area. All it takes is a little spark to set off a huge explosion.
  • Remove all combustible materials a safe distance away. All combustible materials should be no closer than 20 feet to your project.
  • Clean the floor before you start. Dust and debris on the floor can provide a source of fuel for any sparks that happen to land there.
  • Cover all combustible materials that cannot be moved. If you are unable to move all of them from the workspace, cover them with non-combustible materials such as metal sheeting or an asbestos curtain.
  • Cover and wet a combustible floor. If the flooring material itself is combustible, cover it with metal sheeting or asbestos materials.
  • follow all proper procedures when working with materials that contain or contained flammable liquids. This includes isolation, blanking, purging and inverting. Test the materials immediately before MIG welding to ensure that no flammable vapors remain. Consider filling the container/tank to be welded with water to a few inches of the work area for an extra safety precaution.
  • Protect hoses. Keep hoses a safe distance away from any machinery.
  • Secure all cylinders. Only transport them with their caps in place.
  • Make sure that all electrical equipment is properly installed. Follow all recommended circuit load limits with the recommended circuit protection.
  • Uncoil all hoses before use. The hoses of your equipment should be uncoiled and located at a safe distance from the process.
  • Protect welding leads. Cover or suspend the leads to prevent damage.
  • Store oxygen and acetylene in separate locations. Separate the gasses by a distance of at least 20 feet or by a five-foot, half-hour rated firewall.
  • Establish a fire watch if needed. If in doubt, always err on the side of caution.
  • Ensure that a fire extinguisher is readily accessible. The last thing you want to be doing in the event of a fire is scrambling around looking for something to quench it.
  • Ensure sufficient space is between you and other welders. You don't want to be in the path of sparks from another operator.
  • Double check all connections on your rig. All couplings and fittings should be snug before you begin working.
  • Inspect all your equipment before each use. This step is critical to ensure that you don't end up operating a rig that is improperly configured.
  • Store all gas cylinders upright. The valve end should be facing up and not sideways or towards the floor.
  • Wear eye protection. Eye injuries account for approximately 25 percent of all welding and plasma cutting related injuries and is, in fact, the most common among welders. Those who product industrial/commercial machinery, computer materials, and fabricated metal products are especially at risk. Wear goggles or safety glasses with side shield compliant with ANSI Z87.1 beneath your helmet at all times.
  • Locate the best ground clamp you can find. A good ground clam will have copper contact points on the jaws as well as a shunt.
  • Use a good anti-splatter spray. If you work in a code-enforced location, you will probably need to purchase an approved anti-spatter spray. However, if you are a recreational welder or are in an independent contractor with your own business, you might be able to get by with using PAM cooking spray, which has fewer health risks and is cheaper to boot.
  • Keep a spare liner on hand. Change the liner before it reaches a point where the wire is unable to feed through properly.
  • Use the correct amperage circuits and fuses where you plug in your rig. Be sure that the wiring is sufficient to safely carry the current.
  • Use a sufficient flow rate for shielding gas. The average flow rate is around 20 cubic feet per hour. However, because all flow meters will have variations in calibration, you might need more or less.
  • Ensure that you have the correct ventilation. Failure to do so can kill you.
  • Wear long sleeves. Short sleeves are not recommended.
  • Wear a respirator. Wearing one does not make you a weakling. Respirators will protect you from the harmful gasses that are used during the TIG welding process.
  • Practice often. Run tests on scrap metal to ensure that your settings and technique will give you the results you're looking for.
  • Backstep weld to control distortion on thin sheet metal. Weld a few inches at the beginning, middle and end and repeat until the entire seam is welded. This technique can help prevent excessive warping from attempting to weld a continuous long seam.
  • Ensure that your rig is putting off the correct sounds. When plasma cutting on a short circuit, the saying is to "hear bacon frying." Aim for a smoother sound than that, if possible. If performing aluminum MIG welding, you'll want to hear a humming sound rather than crackles and pops.
  • Ensure that your weld surfaces are clean. Dirt, rust, oil, and grease will affect the quality of the weld.
  • Maintain your gloves. These can be pricey, so when they become stiff and unyielding, treat them like a pair of hunting boots with boot grease and a blow dryer.
  • Use a thin glove on the hand that feeds the filler rod. Some welders recommend using mechanics' gloves or goat skin TIG gloves.
  • Use the smallest tungsten possible to get the task done. Using an electrode that is too large can result in erratic arcing and contamination of the weld. Worst-case scenarios will result in arcing inside the cup and out to the side of the tungsten, resulting in the destruction of thin edges and potential loss of expensive parts.
  • Use moderate amounts of torch gas when operating as a TIG welder with aluminum. Unlike steel, which holds heat very well, aluminum conducts heat away from the weld puddle at a faster rate than you can maintain it.
  • Consider using gasses other than argon for shielding. Although argon is by far the most common and versatile shielding gas used when TIG welding, you will get better results when using a helium/argon mix in certain circumstances.
  • Use A fifty-fifty helium argon mix for thick aluminum and magnesium allows.
  • Use a 3:1 ratio of helium and argon for thick aluminum castings. A 3:1 ratio of helium and argon puddles quickly and provides a cleaner weld than 100 percent argon.
  • Ensure that there is a vent hole in any project that will end up airtight at the end. If you don't, the air inside will heat up and blow away your shielding gas. In some cases, it could blow out at the end of the weld bead and ruin your work.
  • Ensure a safe ground connection before beginning. Electric shock can cause severe injury or death.
  • Avoid holding two bare wires in each hand. An electric current can pass through the wires and the operator, resulting in potentially deadly shock.
  • Remember to keep hands away from the electrode and metal parts of the electrode with your skin or clothing.
  • Insulate yourself from the work area and the ground.
  • Always wear dry gloves in good condition.
  • Keep dry insulation between your body and the project and the ground.
  • Use an in industrial ventilation system when using a welding machine indoors for commercial applications. For hobbyists, ensure that you have sufficient ventilation with open windows and fans.
  • Use an exhaust hood if possible. Exhaust hoods remove the gasses are they are produced from the work area to limit exposure.
  • Wear the proper PPE (personal protective equipment). This will protect from burns and exposure to arc rays.
  • Avoid rolled sleeves or pant cuffs when working as a TIG welder. Sparks or hot metal could land in the folds and burn through the material to your skin.
  • Wear good ear protection. This can save your hearing when working in noisy environments and will help prevent debris from entering your ear canal.

Don'ts in Welding Machine

  • Do not overload an electrical circuit while using a MIG welding machine. Doing so can create a fire hazard.
  • Do not operate in an enclosed location. You could kill yourself from the inhalation of dangerous gasses.
  • Do not operate a welder without sufficient eye protection. Although most eye injuries are temporary, you could end up permanently blind.
  • Do not use cheap ground clamps if you can avoid it. Using cheap clamps will increase start times and will not provide a good ground connection.
  • Do not use anything other than an approved anti-splatter spray in commercial applications.
  • Do not operate a rig with a clogged liner. Operating with a clogged liner could result in poor wire feeding, bird-nesting and burn backs.
  • Do not wear short sleeves or cuffed clothing when welding. You could end up with burns from sparks or hot metal.
  • Do not allow hands to come in contact with sharp edges when opening cans of electrodes.
  • Do not operate in an area with combustible materials.
  • Do not operate in a location where sparks can escape from cracks in walls or windows and come in contact with combustible materials outside.
  • Do not operate with flammable liquids or gasses in the area. A single spark can set off a huge explosion.
  • Do not start a project where the floor is dirty. Dust and debris are an excellent medium for starting a fire.
  • Do not weld a container that has contained or currently contains flammable materials without following the proper cleaning procedures.
  • Do not be careless with the location of your hoses. Keep them a safe distance away from any machinery and from all heat sources.
  • Do not operate with coiled hoses. Blockages could result in burst hoses and injury.
  • Do not transport cylinders without their caps in place.
  • Do not store cylinders sideways or upside down. The capped valves should always be facing upright.
  • Do not exceed load limits for electrical circuits. All electrical equipment should be installed according to the manufacturer's specifications.
  • Do not allow leads to come in contact with the welding surface. Keep them covered or suspended to prevent damage.
  • Do not store your oxygen and acetylene tanks in the same area. Separate them by a distance of at least 20 feet.
  • Do not begin work without a fire extinguisher readily available. Your success in preventing a fire from taking over is dependent on how quickly you can put it out.
  • Do not take shortcuts. Shortcuts make long (and possibly dangerous) delays.
  • Do not work in close proximity to other welders. There needs to be a sufficient amount of space between you and others to prevent injury.
  • Do not begin working before you've double-checked all your connections and couplings. Any loose connections should be taken care of before you start.
  • Do not operate a TIG welder without first ensuring that everything is properly configured.
  • Do not use a rig rated for higher amps than your circuit and fuse are designed to handle.
  • Do not skimp on parts for your welder. Buy quality parts and accessories from a reputable seller.
  • Do not use a welder without using a respirator. Breathing the gasses produced by the welding process can be harmful to your health.
  • Do not attempt to use a welder without having had the proper training. If you don't know what you are doing, you can injure yourself and others.
  • Do not continue operating your rig if it does not sound right. Both MIG and TIG welding techniques put off specific sounds when working with different metals.
  • Do not wear weld gloves that are torn or stiff. Keep them supple with boot grease.
  • Do not use mechanic's gloves on the hands that feed the filler rod. They can be difficult to remove in the event that they become too hot to wear.
  • Do not use tungsten larger than needed to get the job done. Using electrodes that are too large will contaminate the weld and may result in erratic arcing.
  • Do not use excessive shielding gas. Each type of metal has its own specified rate of torch gas usage.
  • Do not use a gas mixture that is not recommended. This could cause serious problems.
  • Do not weld a project that will be airtight at the end without leaving a small vent hole. Otherwise, you could end up with a loss of shielding gas or a blown-out weld bead.
  • Do not operate a rig without establishing a safe ground connection. Electric shocks can cause injury or death.
  • Do not hold two bare wires in each hand while using a TIG welder. Doing so can result in your body becoming a conductor for the current between the wires.
  • Do not allow the electrode to come in contact with your skin or clothing to avoid burns.
  • Do not wear wet gloves or gloves that are fraying or tearing.
  • Do not operate a welder on wet insulation.
  • Do not weld without sufficient hearing protection. This will help prevent damage from noisy environments as well as keep debris from entering the ear canal.
  • Do not weld without using approved PPE. Doing so exposes you to an increased risk of burns and injuries.
  • Do not use 100 percent argon for welding thick aluminum castings. Your weld bead may be flawed if you do.
  • Do not operate a welder without the recommended shielding gasses. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Do not weld if you are unsure of something. You don't want to ingrain bad habits in your mind.
  • Do not weld an entire long seam on thin sheet metal. Doing so can result in distortion of the piece.
  • Do not use a shield gas flow rate above or below what your project requires for safety.
  • Do not weld a container that previously held flammable liquids without filling it to a couple inches below the project location with water.