Conductivity headaches are bad news, especially since arc welding equipment relies upon electrical charges to generate metal-to-metal jointing heat. If a welder, while holding an equipment electrode, can’t generate enough heat to carry out a high-quality weld, then the joint site is weakening the circuit somehow. There’s something resisting the energy flow. Not to worry, a few minutes of prep work should take care of this current attenuating effect.

Checking Weld Site Resistivity

Right to the point, is the weld area clean? Dirt or paint, rust or oily film, any of these conductivity-impeding surface contaminants could be obstructing what would otherwise be a high conductivity weld zone. Before switching on what’s essentially a highly charged electrical circuit, the weld area must be cleaned. Wire brushes to hand, a welder soon takes care of such current resisting coatings. Likewise, looking at the grounding clamp this time, the welder should inspect this mechanical linkage to see if it’s behaving as a current bottleneck. Clean the weld zone and the circuit grounding clamp before picking up the handheld electrode.

Tracing the Fault Back Further

If the weld metal is clean, try taking another approach. Look for a maintenance sticker and check to see whether the gear has been inspected recently. Are the leads and electrodes securely fastened to the equipment terminals? What if the electrode includes a consumable filler rod or wire? Alternatively, the electrode might use TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) technology, so carefully trace out the connection between the non-consumable tungsten rod and the handheld electrode. Electrical currents can’t flow easily if they’re impeded by a loose electrode connection. What’s more, contact tips experience wear over time. Generating that much heat and focused energy, the inner circuit elements within welding equipment electrodes do require periodic replacements.

Far from being helpless, welders can take affirmative action. Besides the weld area cleaning, there are other steps that can be taken. A welder checks the condition of the work leads and electrodes every time a new job is undertaken. Also, using the gear, an experienced welder doesn’t yank the cables around, nor does he bend and twist the leads when attempting to get at an awkward jointing area. That’s a strictly amateurish move, one that will cause cable fraying and terminal damage. Remember, the goal is high conductivity, the formation of a low-resistance circuit. The smallest loose connection will undermine this goal. Like a clog in a high-pressure water line, loose or damaged connections form attenuated contact points. Typically, it’s a dirty work area that’ll cause the current inhibiting effect, but lead cable issues are common too.