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Thread: MIG welding outside in damp conditions - what can be done to maximise safety?

  1. #1
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    MIG welding outside in damp conditions - what can be done to maximise safety?

    Hello all,

    My first post on here, and hoping your combined experiences and knowledge can save me from zapping myself!

    I have to MIG weld the inner sills on my 4x4 for my annual vehicle safety inspection (called an MOT) here in the UK by the start of February - or I won't be able to drive it on the road legally. My welding work area is outside only - a gravel parking lot with about 2-4 inches of very damp gravel on black terram (nylon weedbarrier) underneath. We've had heavy rains here over the past month, so the ground is nearly 100% saturated for all practical purposes. This may dry slightly in the next few weeks, but not by much.

    First, NO WAY I'd ever think about welding in the rain or mist, but what steps can I take to maximise safety from electrocution, laying on my back under the vehicle?

    I'm using a 135amp MIG welder, the largest that will run on our 13amp standard power outlets here (240v). I'll do all the welding on low or lowest settings, between 30 to 55amps, still plenty enough to kill me I suppose.

    I know about wearing dry clothing and especially gloves, and working with the ground clamp/cable away from my body. The mig welder is basically new, all the cables are in good condition.

    So could I lay on a large rubber mat (like 6x4ft x 3/8th inch thick) on top of a couple of dry wooden pallets, and weld in safety wearing DRY clothing and gloves, rubber boots, and of course keep the ground clamp securely attached to the area I'm working on?

    The wildcard here - I was wondering if I grounded the chassis to a pipe hammered in the ground with some jumper cables if this would increase or decrease my safety, or just let the tyres insulate the chassis from ground? (Basic electricity 101 here, just don't know which way is best on that!). The 4x4 sits high enough off the ground I don't need to jack it up, so no axle stands to ground it that way.

    My alternative is to run my spare old car on the road for a few months until drier conditions get here, but I need the 4wd for work ideally, though getting zapped isn't worth it!

    Any thoughts greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Re: MIG welding outside in damp conditions - what can be done to maximise safety?

    I live in the Seattle area. You may have heard it rains here a little bit. I worked outside most of my life. If I were you, Iíd lay a sheet of plywood on the ground, and wear a pair of rubber gloves. Or some thin cannery rubber gloves inside your welding gloves.
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  3. #3
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    Re: MIG welding outside in damp conditions - what can be done to maximise safety?

    +1 on laying on plywood - I also do that in the winter instead of laying on snow and ice.
    Dave J.

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    Re: MIG welding outside in damp conditions - what can be done to maximise safety?

    Quote Originally Posted by CEP View Post
    I live in the Seattle area. You may have heard it rains here a little bit. I worked outside most of my life. If I were you, Iíd lay a sheet of plywood on the ground, and wear a pair of rubber gloves. Or some thin cannery rubber gloves inside your welding gloves.
    Ah great, I've been to Bremerton WA before. So you've lived to tell the tale welding in the damp Pacific NW! I'll add a plywood sheet and some rubber gloves to the shopping cart, check. Thanks for the input CEP & Minnesota Dave (been to the Twin Cities also, many years ago!)

    I'll bring the plywood in each evening to dry until I'm done, wife is goinng to love that...

    Thanks guys!

  5. #5
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    Re: MIG welding outside in damp conditions - what can be done to maximise safety?

    I live just across the bay from Bremerton. Done several construction projects in the Navy yard there in Bremerton.
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    Re: MIG welding outside in damp conditions - what can be done to maximise safety?

    I liked it up there in that area. Plenty of welding to do at the yards I imagine. Nice aerial photo! Hey thanks again for the tips, just wanting to try and keep it safe.

  7. #7
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    Re: MIG welding outside in damp conditions - what can be done to maximise safety?

    I never minded welding in the rain. But it can be a pain to see, with the water running in the lenses. You do go through a lot of rain gear welding. But union rules, the contractor has to replace it for us.
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    Re: MIG welding outside in damp conditions - what can be done to maximise safety?

    Quote Originally Posted by MinnesotaDave View Post
    +1 on laying on plywood - I also do that in the winter instead of laying on snow and ice.
    Thanks Dave, I'll go that route and dry it out each night. Going to get some electrical insulated gloves for under the welding gloves also. Extended weather forecast looking a bit drier here, so will give it a go. Thanks!

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    Re: MIG welding outside in damp conditions - what can be done to maximise safety?

    Quote Originally Posted by CEP View Post
    I never minded welding in the rain. But it can be a pain to see, with the water running in the lenses. You do go through a lot of rain gear welding. But union rules, the contractor has to replace it for us.
    Sounds fair enough on the rain gear! I'll skip the rainy day work here though, hoping once I get my patches cut, I'll have both sides welded up in a day, so have time to wait for a drier day. I'm self-employed, so I buy all my own gear but anything to do with safety or PPE is a tax write-off. Catch you soon, will update post when it's passed the vehicle inspection!

  10. #10
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    Re: MIG welding outside in damp conditions - what can be done to maximise safety?

    Yeah we donít stop for the rain here. If we did, nothing would ever get built!
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    Carl

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  11. #11
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    Re: MIG welding outside in damp conditions - what can be done to maximise safety?

    Quote Originally Posted by CEP View Post
    Yeah we don’t stop for the rain here. If we did, nothing would ever get built!
    Very true! A lot like that here, especially in Scotland...

  12. #12
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    Re: MIG welding outside in damp conditions - what can be done to maximise safety?

    Your biggest concern will be with the mains connection cords and connection points on extension cords, just like any other tool you plug in.

    Wet conditions don't effect Mig Welding safety. You can grab the piece you are welding on.

    The plywood will just keep you from getting wet
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    Re: MIG welding outside in damp conditions - what can be done to maximise safety?

    The output voltage of that mig welder is probably 20v. I think you'd be hard pressed to even feel 20v. Other than keeping the welder and yourself from sitting in a puddle I Wouldn't worry about it too much. I was welding up under a truck yesterday outside and it was misting pretty good and I didn't feel a thing.
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  14. #14
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    Re: MIG welding outside in damp conditions - what can be done to maximise safety?

    MIG and flux core are the safest welding methods in damp conditions provided your equipment is in good shape. As long as you don't touch the wire or the contact tip your chances of getting a shock are practically nil. Grounding the chassis would be worse than useless as it would only increase the chances of a shock if there was a fault in the welder or the power cord.

    Also make sure to attach your ground clamp to clean metal as close as possible to the part you are welding. This is to prevent damage to the electrical system of the vehicle.

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