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Knowing the technicalities of electricity and water, it’s no surprise that is you’re wondering whether people could actually stick weld in the rain or on damp and wet metal.
If yes, do they do this legally? Perhaps you’ve come across a welder doing his best to meet a deadline on a rainy day or on wet metal, the aftermath of a rainy day. If you bothered to hold a conversation with them, they would probably tell you they’ve been welding under the rain for ten or so years!
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Can You Stick Weld Metal While It Is Wet?
Technically, yes, you can. As per OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act), it is not illegal to stick weld when metal is wet or when it’s raining. However, we all know that water and electricity do not mix. So how do welders go around this? They avoid contact with the electrode and arc, eliminating any chances of electrocution.
Once the arc is struck on metal, it works as usual whether water is present or not. The only problem is the use of heat in evaporation of water at 212 degrees since the arc is at temperatures above 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. This consumes the heat required in welding, which reduces the quality of welding, making edges brittle. Water may also leave a residue that may contaminate the weld, affecting its mechanical properties.
That said, OSHA does not ban the use of electrical (arc) welding equipment in the presence of water. Employers are, however, required to provide a safe space for work for their employees. This should be a working space free of hazards that could lead to potential physical harm. They, therefore, comply by providing safety equipment and protective gear in such situations.
Precaution Should Be Taken
The truth of the matter is that welding in the presence of water increases the chances of being electrocuted. There are, however, a number of ways that welders keep themselves safe. On an urgent deadline, instead of letting the money bypass them, they take some safety measures.
Some of these include personal protective equipment. Wearing quality welding gear such as rubber, boots, and gloves protect from electricity by cutting out the live current. Welders could additionally cover their stick welding equipment to prevent the chances of getting wet.
But do note – Moisture is a serious concern in metalworking, and though the welding gear you may be wearing is built and designed to negate the effects of electricity when it gets wet (even with your own sweat) all its shielding capabilities are severely compromised.
It is, therefore, not illegal to weld on wet metal or when it’s raining, but employers should seek a solution to protect against electrocution and prevent damage to the welding equipment. They should also keep themselves dry. Alternatively, oxy welding could be sought as opposed to arc welding since it used gas instead of electricity.
Unless you know what you are doing, it is best to work in a dry environment!
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