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You go to work on MIG welding two pieces of metal together. It’s no different than any other day, except for one thing: you have to weld upside down. This isn’t as crazy a situation as you might think: several jobs such as car repair or making metal art may require you to MIG weld in an upside-down or overhead position. How can this be accomplished?
MIG welding upside down can seem tricky, but it can be a great learned skill. Keep your heat hot on your MIG welder and your arc short. When going in to start the weld, make sure you avoid puddling too much to prevent bulbous welds. Proceed slowly down the weld area with a short “u” or a cursive “E” pattern to keep the weld smooth!
Now that you know how to MIG weld upside down, the next concern may be your safety. How can you prevent hot metal from falling on your face? What mechanisms should you have in place for an easier weld? Don’t worry: We’ve compiled top tips to help keep your upside-down MIG welding experience as safe as possible.
MIG Welding Upside Down
As with any job, there is a risk of harm due to working with molten metal. Working from a prone or overhead position can be just as, if not more, dangerous. There are many concerns for the welder in these types of situations. How can you protect yourself when you have a job that requires you to weld upside down?
Luckily, as more and more people learn the ropes of MIG welding, skilled mentors and professionals in the field have been offering a lot of tips on how to keep one safe. As the field grows, so does the knowledge. Below are some of the top tips on how you can get your weld completed without risking a trip to the emergency room:
- Protect Yourself from Sparks
- Control Your Flame & Check Your Feed
- Remember Your Techniques
- Use Both Hands If Possible
Protect Yourself from Sparks
Sparks are just a part of life when it comes to welding. Due to the nature of the heat source and the fact you are melting metal, it may seem like a no brainer: protect yourself. Always wear your helmet to keep your face and eyes safe. In normal circumstances, MIG welding can allow sparks to jump and harm you without the proper gear.
When welding upside down, however, this risk is even greater. The sparks can go left, right, and up, but inevitably they will want to come down as well. For this situation, the standard of wearing a helmet and gloved may not be enough. After all, you’re under the sparks, and if they fall, they will fall on you!
Consider elevating your protection game with a welder’s jacket. These are usually partially or entirely made from natural materials to provide optimal protection against sparks hitting and searing you. Top options for you may be the Miller Electric, which is made of a combination of cotton and nylon, or the Lincoln Electric, which is explicitly designed for heavy-duty and out-of-position welding!
Next, try to make sure escape is as easy as possible. Not all upside down MIG welding situations allow for this, such as lying beneath a car. For scenarios where you may be prone or unable to move away quickly, make sure you have enough of a gap between you and what you are welding to roll out. Consider also having a rolling dolly or similar so you can push away from the area if necessary.
Control Your Flame & Check Your Feed
The key to MIG welding upside down is keeping your feed regular and your arc short. While you are in a less than exciting position to be welding, control is a critical factor in how quickly you can get out of there and how good of a job is completed. Do not rush to get out of there and leave behind a less than stellar weld!
Keeping your flame short offers greater control over how your welding goes. Not only does it allow you to move the arc more easily, but it can improve the weld overall. You can avoid having to trace your arc everywhere as you try to complete the weld and focus on the main area you need to be working in.
Next is your feed. You don’t want your feed too slow: this can make what should be a simple, quick job agonizing and irritating. You don’t want it too fast: this can lead to excess puddling, which means a greater chance of burning yourself with liquified metal. You have to find just the right speed for you.
Pro tip time: While feeding the wire, always try to keep a stick out on the shorter side. This will help you control your feed and allow you to prevent excess. Remember, the more metal you’re moving at once, the more of a risk to your safety in this situation. Control your heat and your wire, and after that, you’re golden.
Remember Your Techniques
When creating a stable weld upside down, it’s essential to remember techniques designed to improve the weld’s stability. When welding, consider using a cursive U or E pattern. These will prevent excess puddling, especially if you drag the torch along. It’s a two for one: less messy welding and a stable weld.
The next option is a stack. Start by doing a weld along the center of the area. Once you have completed your initial weld, go directly below it and weld again. Complete it by doing one more weld above the initial weld. This will help you efficiently complete the overhead or upside down weld and create a stable join for your project.
An exception to these is if you have a rather large area to weld. In this case, you may want to use the stringer bead technique instead of the cursive patterns for your weld. This can be more efficient in the long run but will require some definite layering. Finally, don’t try to angle the torch too much as this can lead to burning and marks, ruining the weld.
Use Both Hands If Possible
It cannot be stressed enough! When MIG welding in an unfamiliar position, it is all about control. This is control over the situation, control over the precautions and safety, and finally, control of your welding capacity. Control gives you a better sense of your surroundings and performance, allowing you to foresee issues and prevent them.
Control is what using both hands on your torch is about. It allows you to make sure you are always aware of where your torch is, where your metal is, and how safe you are. While on any standard welding, you may be able to one hand it without breaking a sweat. In an unfamiliar position, using two to start until you are comfortable will give you a great sense of security.
What if you are in a tight situation, such as under the hypothetical car? Do what you can. If it’s possible to prop up what you’re welding, do so to allow yourself a free hand. As always, you never want to be in a situation where your welding pins you in, so if it is just not feasible, do not panic. Do what makes you comfortable and creates the best weld possible.
Controlling Your MIG Welding Experience
When it comes to MIG Welding upside down, the word of the day is control. Maintain control of your equipment and situation, and you will be able to complete your weld without a problem. Keep your machine hot, your arc short, and proceed slowly for the safest experience. Finally, always have an exit plan if the metal starts raining. With these tips in mind, you’re on your way to being an upside-down MIG welding pro.