How to Weld in Subzero Temperatures Without Damaging Your Tools & Welds

Can you do Welding in Freezing (Subzero) Temperature?

Cracks can form if the weld seam cools down too quickly, even at room temperature. With TIG, MIG/MAG and MMA welding, this temperature difference does not play a major role. Note that the automatic helmet can have problems with the LCD elements at low temperatures from around -10°C . Add antifreeze to water-cooled hosepacks .

In addition, you should make sure that you allow your welding machine about 1 hour to acclimatize when you enter the warm workshop . Otherwise condensation can form in the device. This condensation can cause short circuits and irreparable damage.

In addition to the protective measures for the device and workpiece, you should protect yourself from frostbite. For a pleasant working atmosphere, we recommend lined welding protective clothing such as lined welding gloves and a winter hood in cold weather

welding in cold weather 1 How to Weld in Subzero Temperatures Without Damaging Your Tools & Welds
Image Courtesy: Kemppi Weld

Must Know: You should be careful when you immerse the just welded workpiece in cold water. Water cools down the workpiece much faster than air.

Checklist for welders to Weld in Cold Weather/ Snow

  1. Make sure that your weld does not cool down too quickly.
  2. At temperatures from around -10°C, problems with the LCD elements of your automatic welding helmet can occur.
  3. Add anti-freeze to your water-cooled hosepack.
  4. If you come into the warm workshop from outside in low temperatures, allow your welding machine 1 hour to acclimatize.
  5. Protect yourself from frostbite with lined protective clothing.

AWS cold Weather Welding Guidelines & Recommendations

Welding in colder weather can be more difficult due to the lower temperatures. To ensure weld quality and safety, AWS D1.1 provides guidelines for welding in cold weather.

As specified in AWS D1.1, the minimum temperature of base metals for welding shall be 32°F (0°C), but if it is less than 32°F (0°C), then preheat until the base metal temperature reaches a minimum of 70°F (21°C). Apart from this, low alloy steel or any other high carbon/ high alloying material shall be heated to higher preheat temperature as required for that specific alloy.

The following are some additional cold weather welding tips:

  • When possible, weld in an area that is sheltered from the wind.
  • Wear appropriate clothing including a hat, coat, gloves, and boots.
  • Use a welding shield to protect your face from the heat and sparks.
  • Make sure the electrode wire is properly insulated and kept dry.
  • Keep the welding machine parts clean and free of ice or snow.
  • Low hydrogen electrodes must be properly baked before welding in such conditions.

What should be Minimum Welding Temperature?

The minimum welding temperature shall be 32°F (0°C) according to the AWS D1.1 structural welding code. This is applicable for carbon steel, stainless steel as well as other materials that has to be fusion welded (using Stick welding, TIG Welding, MIG-MAG Welding, FCAW or SAW, etc., for example).

Note: This temperature is applicable for base metal temperature that has to be welded and not for surrounding temperature.

Another requirements related to Code or Standards that specifies the minimum welding temperature or minimum preheat temperature before welding are specified in EN-1011-2 for different alloys.

As a rule, the minimum base metal temperature shall be more than 32°F (0°C) & must be preheated according to the minimum preheat temperature requirements for each material type.

Welding Mild Steel in Cold Weather

Welding mild steel in cold weather can be a challenge. The American Welding Society (AWS) D1.1 welding code has specific requirements for welding mild steel in cold weather. The minimum temperature for welding mild steel is 32°F (0°C). If the temperature is less than 32°F (0°C), the weldment must be preheated until it reaches a minimum of 70°F (21°C) or ambient temperature.


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