Top 5 Most Common Welding Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

PrimeWeld welder making a cut

Beginner welding mistakes are common among those new to the trade. Even if you have completed a trade school welding program or some similar training, you can count on a few mistakes until you get some experience under your belt.

Some mistakes are alright because they help you learn. For instance, your first porosity-filled weld that looks terrible will have you double-checking your settings and methods to ensure you don't have a repeat of it. A mistake like that helps you to learn and can usually be repaired with a torch and grinder.

Some mistakes, however, are not easy to fix and could lead to consequences that can include wasted material, equipment failure, or serious injury. Be sure to understand the basic welding safety concerns before you start on your next project. Welding is a fantastic trade, but it is dangerous, and mistakes can sometimes be devastating. 

Here are five common welding mistakes with tips on how to avoid them:

1. Not Preparing Properly for the Weld

PrimeWeld welding mistakes

It's one of those beginner welding mistakes that often happen: the metal isn't prepared correctly before the welding starts. These mistakes include but are not limited to failing to grind out cracks or not removing contaminants such as rust, dirt, and paint. Surface contaminants can result in a weakened weld, and small cracks will end up as large ones over time if they are not ground out. In order to properly prepare for your weld, it’s important to have the proper welding accessories on hand.

Bottom line: If you want the strongest possible weld, clean, and grind the metal before you do any welding. 

2. Selecting the Wrong Electrode and Wires

Hobart electrodes

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Another one of those welding basics is to choose an appropriate electrode and wires, no matter which welding method you choose. Different applications require a specific electrode, so picking the wrong one is bound to lead you into trouble.

It's also a good idea to take proper care of electrodes and wires by storing them in sealed containers to keep moisture out. When an electrode has moisture, rust, oil, or any contaminant, it could end up producing too many sparks or not work at all.

Solution: Choose the right electrode and electrode accessories for the job, and store them correctly. Do not use an electrode that is wet or has any foreign material on it.

3. Not Having Sufficient Practice

Among the top beginner welding mistakes is taking on a difficult welding job without having practiced on a piece of scrap metal first. Even though you might have a welding certification, it's always recommended that new welders continue practicing like this for a considerable amount of time until they become proficient.

There is no argument that welding videos, books, and courses can give you the welding basics, but they can't prepare you for the stumbling blocks you will encounter in the real world of welding.

Look at welding in terms of a sport—golf, for instance. You can watch several golf tournaments and see how the pros grip their clubs, address the ball, and swing to make the perfect shot. Now, take everything you have learned from watching golf on TV out to the course and try to replicate it. You will likely end up looking foolish!

Welding is not golf, but it does require the same practice and dedication that the pros put into their craft. The best advice to avoid common welding mistakes: Practice! Practice! Practice!

4. Choosing the Wrong Size Gun

PrimeWeld Welding Mistakes

Some beginner welding mistakes can be costly. For example: If you use a welding gun that has a too-low or too-high amperage, you could end up with the additional expense of buying new equipment. Using a lower amperage gun on a higher amperage application, for instance, could result in several issues that include premature failure, additional overhead, and increased long-term costs.

A critical step in preventing a gun from overheating is to choose one with enough duty cycle and amperage capacity. If the application requires you to weld at 300 amps all day--and you use a 200-amp gun with a 30 or 40 percent duty cycle—you're asking this gun to do something beyond its capabilities, which will result in overheating and a shorter life for the gun.

Avoid this problem by choosing a gun size to match the task. Also, take regular breaks to let the gun and consumables cool, which will help to avoid an overheated gun. Consider trying the PrimeWeld MIG180 MIG Welder that comes with a spool gun designed to be used with the machine.

5. Allowing the Arc to Strike Out of the Work Area

One of the potentially dangerous beginner welding mistakes is allowing the arc to strike away from the work. An experienced welder always strikes the arc where the weld is to begin or in the crater on an existing bead. Even though this mistake is unintentional, it happens because the welder's focus is not where it should be. And that lack of focus could have dire consequences.

There is a story about a welder who used a supposedly empty container for a welding table. He struck the arc on the drum, which had some lingering vapors inside. The explosion that followed propelled the heavy plate on which he was working on to his head, killing him instantly.

Always position your rod exactly where you want to start. If you are using an old-school hood, nod your head and strike the arc. The more you practice this, the better you'll get!

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