Welder Maintenance, What You Need To Know About Welding Machine Maintenance - Part 3

Routine Welder Maintenance, Keeping Yourself Safe 

In case you missed Routine Welder Maintenance Part 2, click here.

Cleaning your welder regularly, keeping the power cord and strain relief in good shape are important factors to keeping your welder operating correctly and yourself safe. But really that’s only part of it. The fact that a lot of deaths and injuries related to welding are caused from the use of unsafe welding equipment in general makes it important to think about every part of the welder, not just the “box” itself. In reality a welding machine may look and operate fine, but little attention is given to the torch cables themselves. Welding cables are subjected to the most foul abrasive and heat conditions possible. They can become frayed, exposed, and even corroded from the welding environment. Unnoticed burn through and abrasions on cables and hoses are common problems and can cause shorts and improper operation of the unit. Given the right circumstance these cables can even pose an electrocution hazard and must be removed from service.  It’s important to give a close inspection to them before each use. Torches and holders can become damaged as well. The loss of insulation around a Stick torch comes readily to mind as almost anyone that’s been in an old welding shop has seen the kind of decay that can take place quite rapidly with an electrode holder. You could be quite literally holding a “live wire” if the electrode holder is used beyond its service life.  TIG torches with degrading insulation can offer quite a tingle during HF initiation as well. These torches can break down over time too. MIG torches, the damage is usually more readily apparent and less problematic. However the real hazard comes from having an plasma torch with worn or broken parts. In this case you may be holding onto a cable or torch carrying 240V or more and putting out up to 60 or 70 amps and an arc that can exceed 10, 000 degrees. This is enough to cause serious injury or burns. There is little forgiveness with a plasma cutter so inspection of the torch and cables is really important. Keep in mind though,  as much as regular inspection and maintenance are important to safe and efficient use of a welder is, there can be no substitute for diligence and common sense.  

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