For more than a century, galvanizing has been used to prevent iron and steel from rusting in various settings. And welding galvanized steel is a necessary part of many industrial applications, but it can be dangerous if not done properly. Here are five essentials for welding galvanized steel safely:
- Remove the zinc coating at the joint to be welded. You can repaint it to prevent corrosion after welding.
- Always wear proper protective gear, including a welding helmet, gloves, and long-sleeved clothing.
- Ensure the area around you is well-ventilated. Galvanized steel emits harmful fumes when welded, so it’s important to work in an area with good air circulation.
- Use the right welding rod.
- When using the GMA process, be sure to use a shielding gas that contains at least 20% carbon dioxide to ensure you get a good weld through the zinc coating.
In this article, I cover the 5 fundamentals for welding galvanized steel, and with a little practice, you’ll find that welding galvanized steel can be straightforward and yield great results.
What is galvanized steel?
The galvanizing process is used to protect steel or iron from the formation of rust. The coating is made from zinc and helps to halt the corrosion process. Galvanized steel is most often used in outdoor applications or in environments where steel is exposed to moisture or salt water.
In addition, galvanized coatings can provide a decorative finish that is available in a variety of colors.
Galvanized steel is essentially ordinary steel sheets coated in zinc. The galvanized coating provides a barrier that helps to prevent the formation of rust on the metal surface. Iron is the typical component found in a standard steel sheet.
Galvanized steel is one of the most prevalent types of steel that is used, it is the perfect material for making corrosion-resistant nuts, bolts, and nails as well as outdoor pipes. benches, roofs, and walkways.
Additionally, it possesses the same degree of flexibility as steel. Aside from that, it has the qualities of a zinc and iron coating, making it resistant to corrosion.
In addition, galvanized steel is the material of choice for most modern steel frame buildings. Galvanized steel is used in various industries, including the wind and solar energy, automotive, construction, and telecommunications industries, among others.
Concerns When Welding Galvanized Steel
When working with galvanized steel, welders may have a few problems due to the nature of the material. Here are a few examples of them:
Problems with corrosion
When welding galvanized steel, corrosion resistance is a common issue that needs to be addressed. Galvanizing is done to prevent rust from forming on steel. However, you must first remove the galvanizing zinc applied across the welding area. This will expose the surrounding area to the risk of corrosion.
The galvanizing of the steel a second time, once the welding is finished, is the only solution to this problem that will work. Even though it is a time-consuming process, it is a helpful way to keep the corrosion-resistant feature of the material in good condition.
Problems with the coating
In addition to the potential dangers to your health that welding galvanized steel presents, you also risk encountering several other difficulties.
The zinc coating often found on galvanized steel presents one of the difficulties that must be overcome while welding galvanized steel.
This substance has the potential to weaken the weld. Since there is a coating, it makes the penetration more difficult. In addition to that, it has the potential to give weld inclusions and porosity.
It takes a welder with a lot of experience to weld galvanized steel successfully. In addition, to remedy the problem with the coating, the zinc coating should be removed from the region where you are doing the welding. In addition, a filler material may be utilized on the zinc-coated section of the welding area.
5 Tips to weld galvanized steel.
These guidelines must be adhered to guarantee the operator’s safety while welding. Listed below are some best practices for safe welding.
1. Remove the zinc coating.
Welding galvanized steel joints can be tricky. The zinc coating can cause problems with the weld, making it weaker and more likely to break. Removing the zinc coating prior to welding also reduces splatter.
There are a few ways to do this, but the most common is to use a wire brush wheel on a handheld grinder. This will remove the zinc and leave the steel clean and ready to weld. Just be sure to wear gloves and a mask to protect yourself from dust and fumes.
Once you’ve removed the coating, you can weld the joint as usual. Just be sure to finish up with a sealant to prevent rust and corrosion.
2. Wear proper protective gear
Galvanized steel welding can be dangerous if you don’t take the proper precautions. The fumes from galvanized steel are extremely toxic and can cause serious respiratory problems.
The galvanized steel welding process also produces bright sparks and hot splatter, which can easily cause burns. That’s why it’s important to always wear proper protective gear, including a welding helmet, gloves, and a long-sleeved shirt, before attempting to weld galvanized steel.
When welding, it is essential to remember that any exposed skin is at risk of being harmed by the harmful effects of ultraviolet and infrared rays. In addition, sparks have a much better chance of catching in open pockets, cuffed jeans, or shirts that are not entirely buttoned.
Because of this, it is essential to dress in a way that does not reveal any skin whatsoever. Also, make it a point to keep your pockets clear of any matches or butane lighters at all times.
Before anything else, every member of the welding staff must be outfitted with the appropriate welding personal protection equipment. These gear items include leather boots, welding gloves, welding helmets, and leather jackets.
Use high-top leather boots or shoes if you want maximum protection for your feet. Check to see if your jeans are long enough to cover your shoes. It is best to steer clear of wearing fabric shoes because they will easily catch fire.
Keep welders’ eyes covered
When welding without eye protection, a welder risks experiencing an arc flash after only a few seconds of exposure to the rays emitted by the welding arc. It is a painful condition that affects the eyes and might linger for several hours following exposure to the substance.
Therefore, you should permanently weld using suitable helmets with a filter shade. This is done so that the welder’s eyes are protected while working. Choose a pair of authorized safety glasses that are equipped with side shields and wear ear protection.
Welding galvanized steel produces hazardous fumes that can cause serious health problems if inhaled. That’s why it’s important to wear a respirator when welding galvanized steel.
A respirator will filter out the fumes before they can be inhaled, protecting your lungs from the harmful effects of galvanized steel fumes. In addition to wearing a respirator, it’s also important to work in a well-ventilated area to help ensure that the fumes don’t build up to dangerous levels.
By taking these precautions, you can help protect yourself from the dangers of galvanized steel fumes.
3. Work in a well-ventilated space.
When welding galvanized steel, be sure to weld in a well-ventilated area and use a fan to help circulate the air. If possible, weld outdoors to help ensure good ventilation. If you must weld indoors, open windows and doors to help ventilate the area.
The smoke and fumes produced by welding pose a potential threat to one’s health. It is easy for toxic fumes to build up, and shielding gasses may even replace the air that people can breathe. Working in an area that has adequate ventilation is therefore necessary.
Ensure the welder has an exhaust hood on while operating in confined locations. This has the potential to rid the area of odors and ensure that there is enough supply of fresh air for breathing.
4. Use the right welding rod.
When it comes to welding galvanized steel, you need to use the right welding rod. galvanized steel is coated with a thin layer of zinc, which helps to protect the metal from corrosion.
However, this coating can also make welds more difficult to create. As a result, it’s important to use a rod that is specifically designed for welding galvanized steel. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a subpar weld that is more likely to break and cause problems down the road.
The good news is that there are plenty of different welding rods on the market that is specifically designed for galvanized steel. So, no matter what type of project you’re working on, you should be able to find the perfect welding rod for the job.
Make sure to research and choose a reputable brand that offers high-quality products. With the right welding rod, you can rest assured that your galvanized steel weld will be strong and durable.
5. Use the correct gas mixture.
When welding galvanized steel, it is important to use the correct gas mixture. The most common welding process for galvanized steel is gas metal arc welding (GMAW). This process uses an electric arc to generate heat and a gas shield to protect the weld from contamination.
The gas used for the GMAW process must be able to displace the zinc layer and prevent it from re-solidifying on the weld. Otherwise, the zinc will create defects in the weld and reduce its strength.
A mixture of containing at least 20% carbon dioxide is recommended, along with a balance of Argon for welding galvanized steel.
Protecting Galvanized Steel With The Appropriate Care And Maintenance
It is necessary to provide general care and maintenance for your items to avoid or reduce the problems associated with galvanizing steel. To complete this task, below are some important instructions.
Products made of galvanized steel should not be used in environments with pH ranges between 6 and 12. This is because the galvanized coating is susceptible to higher levels of corrosion than typical.
In corrosive settings, galvanized steel goods should not come into direct contact with dissimilar metals like brass and copper. This rule applies especially to situations when the environment is corrosive.
This film acts as a barrier. A patina is another name for this kind of finish. This prevents corrosion from occurring in the galvanized steel. This protective film can be removed with some abrasive scrubbing. When this happens, there will be greater demand for zinc. The lifespan of the galvanized steel product will inevitably be shortened due to this.
Make it a habit to give galvanized steel products situated in highly corrosive environments, such as those found by the shore or heavily industrialized areas, regular rinsing with potable water. Additionally, it should not be exposed to the sun or rain.
Make sure that the galvanized products are not kept for an extended period in humid places with inadequate ventilation. The location where the items are stored must be dry and have adequate ventilation.
Concerns relating to the health risks of welding galvanized steel
In addition to the concerns regarding the material aspects, there are also potential dangers to the operators’ health. Read on to find out more information regarding these potential risks.
Metal fume fever
The zinc coating on galvanized steel is very susceptible to evaporation during the welding process. As a result, zinc oxide vapors will be produced and combined with the surrounding air.
This gas may offer short-term health consequences, also known as “metal fume fever.” These effects may be temporary.
After inhaling the gases, welders may have symptoms similar to the flu. Symptoms such as nausea, headaches, a high temperature, shivering, and thirst are possible. The signs typically disappear within the first 48 hours after exposure to the toxin.
Long-term problems with one’s health
The galvanized coating contains a trace amount of lead due to the galvanization process. During welding, this lead will become vaporized, producing lead oxide fumes.
These gases have been linked to a variety of long-term health issues, including cancers of the lung and brain, as well as disorders in the nervous system. Therefore, wearing the appropriate protective gear is necessary to avoid these health issues.
Protective clothing and the appropriate education
It all comes down to the fact that welders do not receive adequate safety training. This is the root cause of the safety concerns described before. The welder must have sufficient training.
They must ensure that the welder’s face and the welding shield are kept away from the fumes. In addition, the welder needs to be in the correct position to get the most out of the clean airflow. In addition, this will stop the oxidized dust from accumulating inside the welder’s shield.
A mask of superior quality must be made available to the welder so that they can work safely. In addition to this, they need to have extensive training on the safety procedures involved in welding.
When it comes to the process of metal production, welding galvanized steel might be dangerous for individuals who lack any prior understanding of the field. When working with these materials, one must learn about proper safety procedures.
To deal with certain problems in the most effective way, you need to know the right way to weld galvanized steel. If you need help making something out of metal, don’t be afraid to call a qualified and experienced sheet metal fabricator in your area.
What new information did you pick up from today’s blog post?
Below is a helpful YouTube video that shows the best welding process for welding galvanized steel.