Safely Setting Up a Welding Machine for New Welders
During the holiday season there will be many welders picking up new welding machines and welding supplies for their shops and home welding projects, but if you’re new to welding, you need to spend some time making sure your welder is safe to use. Properly setting your welder up won’t take a lot of time, but it will make a huge difference in your personal safety, in the longevity of your machine, and in your effectiveness as a welder.
Thankfully a new welding machine won’t have a lot of wear, and you won’t have to worry about checking your shielding gas hoses for leaks. Here are some key safety procedures for a new welding machine:
The Work Area for a New Welder
A new welder should be set up in a location where you’ll have plenty of ventilation, especially if it’s a stick welder, and no one will be in danger of being flashed by the machine’s UV rays. While there are ventilation units that you can purchase for a small, enclosed space, you can solve most of your problems by opening a garage door and welding behind a screen or welding outside if there isn’t wind to mess up your shielding gas.
Welders can also give off sparks that could be harmful to people or could ignite a box or pile of saw dust. Sometimes a spark in a pile of saw dust could smolder for hours before lighting up. If you have cardboard and wood in your garage or shop, you could have a huge fire on your hands. The less you have around, the better.
An ideal work area should also be dry since water conducts electricity and could deliver a fatal shock. Even sweating heavily can cause problems while you weld if you’re in a warmer climate. Your power outlet should be properly grounded and able to handle the current your machine puts out.
If you aren’t sure about the grounding in your shop or if your outlet is on the older side, ask a professional electrician to check it out. A power surge could spell trouble for you and your machine.
Setting Up a New Welder
Every welder manufacturer will tell you that the first step is to read the instruction manual. Don’t leave anything to chance. Your greatest challenge will be matching the amperage to the thickness of the metal. If you’re working with a MIG welder, you’ll also need to think about shielding gas and the rate of the wire.
If you’re working with shielding gas for MIG or TIG welding, the gas cylinders should be secure before you start. They should be either fastened to a cart or to a secure point on the wall. Double check your fittings, and as your welder ages, run periodic tests on your hose for shielding gas.
Another essential safety feature is a solid metal ground that is clamped to your work piece. This is not only important for safety, you’ll also have a smoother weld that doesn’t jump and spark while you work.
How to Maintain Your Welder
You’ll want to keep your welder in a flat, dry space where it won’t roll around or get damaged. You should never remove the panel on the side of your welder. If you do, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions—which always advises you to unplug the machine. Don’t just turn it off if you need to check on an internal component.
One of the best investments you can make for your welder is to purchase a cover that will keep dust from accumulating in it while it’s not in use. However, you can also keep your welder in top shape by consulting your manual about regular maintenance such as removing debris with compressed air or changing the oil for engine driven machines.
You shouldn’t set up a welder unless you have the proper safety gear to weld without running the risk of burning yourself or exposing your skin to harmful UV rays. Welders should always wear flame resistant clothing. Synthetics are particularly dangerous since they can be flammable.
Most welders wear at least a cotton shirt, but you should also look into a welding apron or flame-resistant jacket. There are both heavy leather jackets and lighter jackets depending on your climate.
Welding gloves will also provide the protection you need on your hands while you work without losing the flexibility you need. Heavy duty stick welding gloves will protect you from the sparks and spatter that could burn your hands while welding. On the other end of the spectrum, thin and flexible TIG welding gloves will make it possible to feed the wire without exposing your hands to the heat, UV rays, or sparks.
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