welding in the rain

Is It Illegal To Arc Weld In The Rain?

You probably think welding in the rain is illegal because electricity and water don’t mix. But then you think of all the stories you’ve heard from other welders, how they were stuck welding in ditches with mud and rain up to their torsos and lightning flashing all around. After that, you might start thinking it's fine to weld in the rain, and you're not alone. There seems to be a lot of confusion. However, some companies actually prohibit their welders from working in “inclement weather.” But do they have a legal obligation to do so?

Nope. According to OHSA standards, no regulations prohibit a worker from welding in wet weather. Yet, here’s the thing: electrical currents and water don’t play nice. So, while it’s not illegal, below are some important things, such as electrical safety tips when welding, you need to take into account when dealing with moisture.

Is it Safe To Weld in the Rain?

While we’ve established it’s not illegal, that doesn’t mean it’s smart. Not only is welding in the rain dangerous for your own personal wellbeing, but too much water can potentially damage your equipment. So if you’re not going to do it for yourself, do it for your equipment.

Welding outdoors comes with its set of challenges, and one of the biggest is dealing with the weather, especially rain. Weather conditions can significantly impact the safety and quality of your welding work.

Can I MIG Weld in the Rain?

MIG welding outdoors in the rain is not recommended. Water can interfere with the shielding gas typically used in MIG welding, compromising the integrity of the weld. Moreover, the combination of electricity and water poses a serious risk of electrical shock. Avoid MIG welding in wet conditions and seek a dry, sheltered area to ensure both the quality of your work and your personal safety.

Can I TIG Weld in the Rain?

Like MIG welding, TIG welding in the rain is highly discouraged. TIG welding requires a lot of precision, and any moisture can contaminate the weld area, leading to poor weld quality and defects such as porosity. The risk of electrical shock is also heightened in wet conditions because the TIG welding process involves high-frequency starts. For these reasons, TIG welding in a dry environment is safer and more effective.

Can I Stick Weld in the Rain?

Stick welding, or shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), is more forgiving in adverse weather conditions compared to MIG or TIG welding. While welding in the rain is not ideal, stick welding can be performed if necessary, thanks to its flux coating, which provides some protection against moisture. However, it's crucial to take precautions to minimize exposure to water to prevent electric shock and ensure a decent weld quality. Using waterproof gear and coverings can help mitigate some risks.

In summary, while stick welding can be done in light rain with proper precautions, MIG and TIG welding should be reserved for dry conditions to maintain safety and weld quality. Whenever possible, it's best to arrange for a dry work environment or delay welding tasks until weather conditions improve.

You Must Stay Dry

Rain isn’t the only water hazard for welders. Any type of moisture, including your own sweat, can pose a danger. Welding gear is specifically designed to negate the effects of electricity. But if your gear becomes wet, its protection is voided. For instance, your gloves are designed to protect the rest of your body from electrical currents. But let’s say you accidentally drop them in a puddle. Even if you don’t stick your glove in your arc (which you shouldn’t do even with dry gloves) you’ll most likely feel a tingling in your hands just by holding your torch. If you did happen to accidentally touch your arc or the electrode with wet gloves, you’d be in for a world of hurt.

It’s also incredibly important that your boots stay dry. Welding boots are specifically designed with rubber to insulate you from the ground. But when wet, this protection can become entirely worthless. It probably doesn’t need to be said that standing in a puddle while welding is also a bad idea.

It’s Not Just Rain

As we mentioned, any type of moisture is the enemy, not just rain. Areas with high humidity can potentially cause problems if your safety gear becomes damp. Often, welders also overlook their own sweating. If you’re the type of person who perspires like a sumo in a sauna, you’ll need to pay attention to your body's moisture level. In hot environments, sweat can dampen your gloves just as much as rain.

There’ll always be those situations when you’re trying to hit a deadline, and it’s raining cats and dogs like Animal Control just had a jailbreak. And while it’s not illegal to weld in the rain, it isn’t too smart --- think twice when welding around water. As long as you stay dry and use your common sense, you’ll have nothing to worry about. For other tips on how to keep you and your equipment safe, check out our post below on preventing burn-back.

Safety First With Welding Supplies From IOC

So, there you have it — while welding in the rain isn't against the law, it's definitely not recommended. Safety first, always! Whether it's rain, your own sweat, or even high humidity, moisture and welding are a risky mix. While stick welding can be somewhat safe under light rain with the right precautions, MIG and TIG welding are definite no-gos when it's raining. For those days when you can't avoid moisture or have to work in challenging conditions, make sure to suit up properly, check your equipment, and maybe wait out the storm if you can.

At Welding Supplies from IOC, we're all about making sure you have the knowledge and tools to keep your welding safe and effective, no matter the weather. Remember, your gear is your first line of defense against electrical hazards, so keeping it dry is crucial. Shop our selection of quality protective gear, welding machines, and accessories to ensure you're always prepared. For more safety tips and tricks, including how to prevent burn-back and other common welding issues, don’t forget to dive into our other welding posts.