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Help with understanding welding outdoors, electroctution, etc.

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  • Help with understanding welding outdoors, electroctution, etc.

    I want to be able to weld outdoors year round but I live in a very wet climate. I don't have the benefit of an indoor shop, and I don't have the money to build one. I am a newbie at welding, having purchased my Multimatic a year ago and only used it 3 times thus far (it was extremely helpful to have).

    When I used it I always made sure it was a sunny, dry day, and I plugged it into my outdoor 120v GFI circuit on my outbuilding where I have a 60 amp panel. I am standing on an uncovered concrete slab.

    When it's raining I have nowhere to weld, and that's a real bummer. It can rain for months at a time, though we've been having the driest year ever. My outbuilding is wood floors, walls, etc. so that is obviously a no-go, not to mention the poor ventilation.

    My question: If I constructed a lean to sort of thing off of the building where it did not receive direct rain, but I was still standing on damp ground, am I still risking electrocution? I can probably keep what I'm welding dry, and my gloves and what not, but the ground will always be wet. I am really naive when it comes to electricity, and want to be extra careful. I'd mostly be mig welding, not stick.

  • #2
    I am in the same boat and mig weld outside. I don't have any problems. But my welder is inside the roof. I just bought a 13' gun to reach further out...Bob
    Bob Wright

    Spool Gun conversion. How To Do It. Below.


    • #3
      I've welded in the rain more times than I can remember. It's pretty much a non issue. But...

      The only time I've ever been shocked while welding was when I was path for the welding circuit to be completed. We were attaching a large extension to the top of a billboard. The machine (Lincoln Ranger 9) was in the truck and the work clamp was at the bottom of the sign. I was holding the attachment as the crane lowered it to the top of the board. It was very hot and I was very sweaty. I was on the top catwalk and my stomach was leaning against the railing. My thin gloves were soaked with sweat. As the attachment got to the top of the sign, the other guy struck the arc to weld it on. The part he struck the arc on was the attachment itself, which was still a fraction of an inch from really getting good heavy contact with the top of the sign. So the welding current, or significant portion thereof, shot through my sweaty gloves to go through me to shoot through my sweaty shirt to get to the sign. Holy crap! Fortunately we weld with DC when possible.

      But as far as just being wet and in the rain, it doesn't bother me one bit. Just don't be holding the clamp with one hand and the weldment with the other when you strike the arc.


      • #4
        Electric shock is about two conductive objects you are in contact with having potential between them. In the utility power system we strive to offer only one conductive item at a time. Part of the utilities both primary side, and secondary side are connected to earth. In turn, code requires that lots of items be bonded. If we use a meter to test, the earth we stand on, the concrete foundation of the building we are in, all conductive enclosures for our electrical systems are electrically bonded. If electrons want to flow from one place to another, we encourage it to happen without humans being part of the current's conductive path.

        If I need two objects at different potential to get a shock, and everything I may touch is only one where electron flow is concerned, it has no destination. I suggest a good set of automotive jumper cables, Connect your workpiece to earth.

        Now you have one potential throughout the metal objects you will touch. You now need to avoid the stinger, MIG gun, or TIG tungsten. To function, they need to be at different potential from the ground lead connected work. Don't put yourself between these, no shock.

        Voltage is usually not real high. It'll be unpleasant, but not in the range considered life ending. Wear gloves handling this torch, you might at worst feel a little tingle. Dry gloves, no exposed skin, you'll be OK.
        Dynasty 280DX
        Bobcat 250
        Spool gun
        Twentieth Century 295
        Twentieth Century 295 AC
        Marquette spot welder
        Smith torches


        • #5
          Sounds like the environment I dealt with when I lived near Seattle (rains from the fall into the spring, then desert like conditions in the summer -- weird).

          I do (by necessity) quite a bit of welding outdoors, on dirt, often in damp conditions and frankly take extra precautions like wearing my EH boots which according to the ASTM provide protection IN DRY CONDITIONS up to 600V. I rely on gen-driven equipment, but still carry an industrial rubber mat along that goes down between me and Mother Terra. Those who say it's "safe" welding in wet/damp conditions are rolling the dice pure and simple -- I'm a retired EE and it only takes 75ma or so to KILL YOU --- that is nothing with today's modern welding setups.
          ESAB TIG 252 with Miller CoolMate
          Spectrum 875
          Diversion 180
          Oxy-A (Harris, ESAB, Ox Weld)
          Miller 252
          MM 211
          CST 280
          Trailblazer - Kubota


          • #6
            They don't call the old Lincoln AC buzzboxes "Tombstones" for nothing!


            • #7
              Click image for larger version

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              Can you put up a canopy to keep rain off your work area.?
              Be aware that the sellers are sneaky when advertising these.
              They say 10 ft x 10 ft - but in the fine print they say "Provides 64 sq ft of shade" so it is actually 8 ft x 8 ft.
              The legs stick out to 10 ft x 10 ft.
              This can be taken down afterwards to save space.
              I have one I use if I have a large project that sticks out of my garage.
              Makes the job easier and there is less cussing.

              Also if you can find plastic skids like these, they are helpful to keep you off the ground and your feet dryer.

              Good luck.
              Miller Dynasty 350, Dynasty 210 DX, Hypertherm 1000, Thermal Arc GTSW400, Airco Heliwelder II, oxy-fuel setup, metal cutting bandsaw, air compressor, drill press, etc.

              Call me the "Clouseau" of welding !