How to Properly Maintain Your Arc Welding Electrodes
Arc welding requires that the welder use electrodes (welding rods) which have wire inside them, which means that they need to be properly maintained and stored in the correct manner. The wires located in the electrode consist of different sizes and materials, to differentiate between the different types of electrodes they are coded using a numbering system which allows the welder to know what the properties of an electrode are.
The first thing every welder needs to know about properly maintaining and storing electrodes is the numbering system that is used for each different type of electrode. In the American Welding Society’s numbering system, the first two numbers of an electrode are the strength of the metal contained inside the electrode. The third number is used to explain the position that the electrode can be used in, either horizontal, vertical or in all positions. The fourth number on the electrode is used to show the properties of the flux that is used on the electrode.
When storing electrodes it is recommended that they be stored in a dry location and in their original box. If welding electrodes are not properly stored they can absorb moisture on the flux which can cause bubbles to develop in the weld. These small bubbles that may develop can cause the weld to become porous and weak which can then lead to cracks and an overall defective weld. To avoid welding defects from occurring it is highly recommended that all welding electrodes be stored in a dry place. Welding experts also suggest that welding electrodes be used before they become too old. An old electrode can become coated with efflorescence which lets you know that it is time to use that particular electrode.
If you keep a lot of electrodes in your work shop you may want to consider purchasing an electrode oven. Storing your welding electrodes in an oven will ensure that they remain dry and keep their bonding strength. Electrode ovens can also dry out electrodes that may have become wet by not being properly stored. Electrode ovens are relatively inexpensive and will help keep you from spending more money replacing unusable electrodes that may have become damaged from improper storage. Each welder has their own method of storing their electrodes; the important thing to remember is to store your welding electrodes properly to avoid having to purchase costly replacements.
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