Pipe welding is possibly the most difficult process for industry professionals. Make your welding projects easier by following these 17 pipe welding do’s and don’ts.

The Essence of Pipe Welding

Man Doing Pipe Welding a Stainless Steel Pipe Spool on a Workshop House

Image: CC by 2.0, Boccard Piping, via Flickr

Thus, the more clients will pay you for your services. Welders tend to agree that pipe welding is possibly the most difficult process for welding school students and industry professionals. What makes pipe welding so difficult are the positions welders find themselves in to do the work. Working on a pipe that is fixed with limited access can be strenuous and stressful.

Pipe Welding: 17 Do’s and Don’ts

Companies pay professionals who become accredited pipe welders quite well. This makes pipe welding certification one of the most sought-after certifications in the industry. To help you get that accreditation, we have 17 do’s and don’ts you should remember.

1. Learn How To Plate Weld First

Pipe welding comes as a difficult task. It happens as imperative that you perfect your plate welding technique before you tackle pipes. Learning how to plate weld first includes both structural welding basics.

Hence, it comes inclusive of the overall expertise in welding symbols, principles, and fundamentals. This foundation serves you well when you make yourself ready to pursue your pipe welding certification.

Three Men Doing Pipe Welding Quality Procedure Test with all materials and tools

Image: CC by 2.0, 证淙, via Flickr

2. Don’t Reach For the Cleaning Solvent

A dustpan or small piece of fabric combats the final contaminants from the wire coming from the drive roll system. So, it comes as a common strategy used by many welders.

Welders add lubricant or cleaning solvent to the pad ostensibly to clean the wire. Accordingly, they do the exact opposite. Consequently, the solvent contaminates the wire and cause weld defects.

3. Don’t Assume You Automate Your Way To Success

Pipe welding appears as a challenge in and of itself. Further, you think you make things easier by automating part of the process. Thus, you actually make things more difficult.

If you think about automation, make sure you truly understand how the entire welding process works from beginning to end. However, no one likes to invest a lot of money in a machine that does not run because of problems upstream. Or, one that causes bottlenecks downstream because it produces too quickly for manual processes to keep up.

You spend time understanding the problem you want to solve with automation. Then, you learn that a simpler setup will suffice, rather than an expensive machine.

4. Figure Out Which Comes as Your Best Side

Every welder possesses a “best side.” By this, we mean the side of the pipe that goes easier to work on than the other. Typically, the side you do not see because your hand blocks your view. This inevitably happens when you do pipe welding which comes as your “bad side.”

More likely than not, your dominant hand determines this. If you appear left-handed, the right side comes as your “bad side,” and vice versa. Similarly, gravity works against you a bit. Likely, it makes the top of the pipe easier and cleaner than the bottom.

Employees doing pipe welding on 24 steel pipe on a road with all the materials and trucks

Image: CC by 2.0, JFKielyConstructionCo, via Flickr

5. Don’t Mix Gases

Some welds call for a mix of gases, such as argon and helium. Rather, try to mix the gases yourself using two tanks and flow and regulators.

It comes better to go ahead and buy cylinders for the gas premixed. You buy a quality mixer to do the job. Trying to mix the gases yourself leads to all kinds of issues and a lot of wasted time and effort.

6. Tack Weld Materials Together

To ensure you hold your materials in place securely, tack weld them together at the beginning of the job. Now, you take your time to finish the project properly.

Also, with a little less worry about how the job will go. Thus, cutting and feathering your tacks reduce the defects in the final weld.

7. Don’t Go Heavy On the Shield Gas

Many welders make this common mistake. They assume that more shielding gas, inert or semi-inert gases meant to protect the weld area from oxygen and water vapor. This does not always happen.

Besides, wasting gas and costing money, too much shielding gas agitates the weld puddle and draw oxygen into the weld which causes porosity. Avoid this problem altogether by using a flow meter and sticking to recommended flow rates.

8. Mind the Gap

Start and stop each weld on the side well. Do not do so in the gap. Arc first and then weld pool.

Afterward, slowly move across the open root to the other side. Then, zigzag along the open root until you need to change position.

Bay in Boccard Pipe Fabricators Shop where welders do Pipe Welding for Stainless Steel Pipe Spools

Image: CC by 2.0, Boccard Piping, via Flickr

9. Don’t Forget to Feather Your Tacks

Often, the person completes a weld from the person starting a weld, known as the fitter. If you prepare a pipe weld for someone else to complete, remember to cut it out. Then, feather your tacks ensures a consistent final weld.  Conclusively, make doubly sure the welder knows what you used to tack, or fit, the metal.

The welder consumes those tacks in the final weld. Yet, and if the tacks have defects or you accidentally used the wrong filler metal, it causes defects in the weld. Combat this with good cutouts and feathering.

10. Work Around the Clock

No, this does not refer to working 24-hour days to get the job done. It refers to how you should approach each pipe weld. A lot like working in chunks or dividing a big job into a series of smaller jobs, experts suggest approaching the pipe like a clock face.

Start your weld at what would be the 12 o’clock mark and work your way to the 3 o’clock mark. Stop, check your weld, and if you are happy with it, move on to the next quarter. Keep going until you have circled the clock and finished.

11. Don’t Cut Costs When Cutting

One mistake many weld shops make when taking on pipework is cutting that pipe with substandard band saws. This creates a poor cut, in turn rendering the fit-up unworkable, or worse, close but not close enough. Many welders go ahead with the weld, filling the gaps with filler metal.

The added heat of the weld cause further distortion and ruin some corrosion-resistant metals. In some cases, the welder reworks the job, costing both time and money. Shops go ahead and invest in dedicated pipe cutting equipment to avoid the hassle and costly mistakes.

12. Use a Groove Weld

You likely unable to weld from the inside of the pipe. So, you want to use a groove weld. A groove weld comes as a weld that “consists of an opening between two part surfaces, which provides space to contain weld metal.” Using a groove weld ensures good welds on heavy-duty materials with poor penetration.

13. Don’t Assume Your Power Source Causes Porosity

The truth comes as that power sources do not cause porosity, a common misconception among some professionals. Investigation often leads welders to discover porosity occurred when a gas cylinder changes or new wire spool added.

Maybe improperly prepared materials or some other contamination occurred within. The best way to figure out what causes porosity. It happens to start from where it began and work back from there.

Men Doing Pipe Welding a 2-stroke pipe in a Fabricators Shop

Image: CC by 2.0, Gerald Geronimo, via Flickr

14. Make Sure to Run Hot

Surprisingly, running your TIG welder results in metal distortion. Don’t go too far the other way and run too cool. It leads to a weak weld and, eventually, lost time and money.

Learn how to run your welder as hot as possible without going too hot. You know you have hit the sweet spot when the heat breaks down the edges of the workpiece. So, you get a stronger fusion with the material.

15. Don’t Forget What Kind of Metal You Are Welding

A lot of the dos and don’ts we shared pertain to heavy-duty metals, so understand what it means to weld the metal you are working on. In other words, if you are welding steel, you can fill the gaps. However, with aluminum pipe, you will not be able to do that. Aluminum must fit together tightly with no gaps.

16. Do Enjoy the Travel

Because pipe welding is a highly skilled discipline, there is a lot of demand for great pipe welders. If you enjoy seeing the country — maybe even the world — you likely can find work wherever you want to go.

17. Do Take Advantage of the Job Security

Welders are highly sought after, but pipe welders are in a league of their own. Skilled pipe welders who keep up with training will likely stay employed until they decide they don’t want to weld anymore.

Man Doing Pipe Welding a 2-stroke pipe in a Fabricators Shop

Image: CC by 2.0, Gerald Geronimo, via Flickr

Project Opportunities on Pipe Welding

Pipe welding is not restricted to the oil and gas industry, either. Eventually, welders have the opportunity to expand their skill set and take high-paying job opportunities in many different industries, from industrial construction to utilities and shipping.

If pipe welding sounds like the kind of career challenge you would like to take on, do some research and consider a certification training program. Once certified, your newfound skill may reveal a career path you never thought could happen.

Featured Image: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Robert Carr, via Flickr