Welding is a hard job. If you are new to welding and do not know how to do everything correctly, your welds might not hold at all. It is important to know why your welds are not holding so that it does not happen in the future. Weld breaks are super annoying, and you do not want to waste time welding the same stuff again and again.
Welds might not be able to hold for a lot of reasons. The material, incubation time, temperature, tools, etc. should be in perfect condition for running a welding job. Messing with any of them could cause a weld to break and not hold as expected.
In this article, I will talk about why your welds are not holding and also provide solutions to those issues so that your welds keep holding in the future. So, without further ado, let’s get right to it.
5 Causes Why Your Welds Are Not Holding
Although there could be a lot of causes behind your welds breaking, I will talk about 5 of the most common and important reasons here in this article. Here are 5 causes why your welds are not holding.
1. Low Welding Temperature
If you are welding materials like steel, you need to use high temperatures for that. Metal objects require an insane amount of temperature to melt, and unless you are using enough temperature, your welds will not hold. You may need to go from 3000 to 20000 degrees Celsius of temperature to weld something.
I have told you about low temperatures, but that does not mean that you can use as much temperature as you want. You need to find just the perfect amount of temperature to work with. Anything more or less will not be sufficient for a welding job.
When you use more temperature than required, you will see that some small pores are created around the joints. High temperature makes a metal joint fragile, and those small pores will cause your welding not to hold for a long time.
The same goes for the low temperature as well. If one of the metal parts is hot and another one is cold, your welding will get ruined in a moment. Even if your welding arc is hot and both of the metal parts are cold, your weld turns into a disaster. You may continue welding but the weld will not hold for a longer period of time. It will gradually tend to break.
2. Inefficient Cooling
You know that you need to cool the metal after completing the welding operation. Inefficient cooling can hurt the welding quality and cause your welds not to hold properly. Cracking is a nightmare for professional welders, and rapid cooling can cause this issue.
Think of a scenario when you have completed an almost perfect weld, and now it’s time to cool. You or your boss do not have much time to spend right now so you decided to cool the metal joint as soon as possible. As soon as you tried to cool it, the joint got cracked and now you are forced to spend more time instead of less.
When you heat up a metal object, the thermal stress gets increased. The stress keeps its position while you weld. If you try to cool the object too fast, the stress is released even faster, and that causes a crack in the metal joint. And I should say that it is one of the worst welding defects any welder has seen.
A cracked weld forces you to weld the joint again because the cracked weld is not going to work anyways. Rapid cooling does not save time, and no matter how busy you are, rapid cooling will not save your time. Cracking will happen out of nowhere and it is not good for your weld.
3. Faulty Equipment
Welding components are very much important for welding operations. If a single component fails during the weld, the final outcome will be worse. Using low-quality components might also damage your weld and cause it to not hold.
You know about MIG welding, right? While it is one of the easiest methods to weld, people still mess up while using it. MIG welding requires the right contact tip, and if somehow the weld forms in the wrong spot, your welds are not going to hold.
The high temperature of your welding tip is supposed to fuse the metals. But if the weld forms on the contact tip, it will burn back instead. The reason behind it can vary. If the energy fed to the wire is done slower than required, the weld will break.
Another cause might be the welder’s fault. If you hold the welding gun too close to the metal, the contact tip will not be able to fuse the metal parts. Excess feeding speed due to the faulty equipment might cause the liquid metal to splatter. It will cause incomplete fusion and cause the weld to look like a mess.
Faulty equipment can cause those issues that will not allow your weld to hold. Trust me, even an expert welder won’t understand the issue because it is not the problem of the person who is welding the metal. It is the components used for accomplishing the job, which messed up the weld.
During metal welding, all kinds of metal are supposed to oxidize. Especially when someone is working with hot metal, the oxygen in the air creates an oxide layer on the metal. As you know, metal is resistant to corrosion in nature. But that oxide layer damages the resistance. Gradually your weld will start to break and not hold at all.
You must take some steps to prevent oxidation. Welders use their own approaches to achieve this, but not all of the approaches work perfectly. Mostly they use another gas in the area of weld so that oxygen cannot enter the surface.
The problem is, this process is complex and everyone cannot do it. If you are one of them, you might have problems with the anti-oxidation process, which results in your welds holding shorter. The oxygen in the air is very reactive to molten metal, without special care your weld will not be holding.
If you are working with steel or iron, the chances of oxidation are higher than other materials. Special care needs to be taken during welding these materials. You want your weld to hold, so try to make your welding better so that your boss won’t complain every now and then.
5. Inadequate Cleaning
Cleaning is one of the most important tasks during welding. If you are not cleaning properly, your weld will not hold much longer. Cleaning is an art, and you must do the cleaning perfectly.
If the metal parts you are welding contain dirt, it will hamper your work. Metal bars can contain rust, dirt, paint, etc. that will create a fusion while welding. It may slow down or speed up the preheating which may not end up well.
Moreover, all these foreign materials gradually reduce the strength of welding. Remember, cleaning will not turn your metal into a diamond. It may not make a completely rusted iron shine, but cleaning is important. Uncleaned metal does not weld properly, and you should notice the issue the time you start to weld.
There are a lot of materials available in the market that makes cleaning metal surfaces easy. If you do not have time to clean, I suggest you do something else instead of welding. When you get the time again, clean the material and then start welding the stuff. Your welds will break and not hold if you haven’t cleaned the metal surface.
5 Fixes for Your Welds That Are Not Holding
In the previous part, I have talked about the reasons why your welds are not holding. In this part of the article, I will talk about the fixes so that you won’t face weld breaks again.
1. Maintain Temperature
Maintaining temperature is important for welding jobs. Welding depends on heating up the metal, and temperature is the most important thing to control while you are welding. You already know that incorrect temperature can be miserable for your welds and cause your welds to not hold.
So if you want your welds to hold, maintain the temperature. Preheat the base metal before using the welding arc, and remember to heat up both of the metal parts. The welding arc will then apply the welding temperature and weld the material. Applying the welding arc directly to the cold metal will cause the weld to damage.
A cool portion of the metal contracts but the hot portion expands. You can place the metal in an open flame to preheat or put it in an oven. Some welders use a furnace for preheating the metal but the method does not matter. The main goal is to raise the temperature so that the weld can be done smoothly.
Always monitor the temperature during the preheating process. If you do not monitor the temperature and it rises more than the expected level, you will not be able to weld. Remember, your target is to maintain the right temperature, not overheating the material. Do not exceed the melting temperature at any condition.
2. Anneal the Metal
I have mentioned the rapid cooling stress that messes up a weld. If you quickly cool the metal down after welding, the metal has a higher chance to crack and not hold. Therefore, it is important to anneal the metal.
Let me explain the process of preventing this rapid cooling issue. Just like you preheat the metal object before welding, you need to reheat it again after welding. Use a torch or furnace to reheat the metal object after you complete the welding process. Remember that the temperature should not go too high.
According to my experience, using a furnace is better for reheating. Reheating using furnaces is easier and you have better control over your reheating process. You can even leave it for reheating and go for another job if you want.
Once the range reaches 1450 to 1650, incubate the metal for a few moments. For every inch of thickness, you should soak the metal for one hour. If the metal is not consistent at thickness, consider setting the base of the incubation temperature using the thickest part of the metal object.
As I told you before, the furnace allows full control of the process, you can set a cooldown rate or let the weld cool naturally over time. By this, internal stress gets released in a controlled way and your weld is able to hold instead of breaking.
3. Choosing The Correct Equipment
Faulty equipment can make the quality of your weld lower and break it. If you want to weld perfectly, you have to choose the correct equipment for that. Components used for welding can bring bigger differences in welding quality.
I have mentioned that MIG welding has issues with the contact tip. If you are the one facing weld breaks while welding using MIG, I suggest you change the contact tip. It will not take a lot of effort to replace but it will do the job for you. In the future, your weld will be able to hold longer if you have used the perfect contact tip.
Moreover, you need to increase the feed speed of the MIG welding machine. No, do not increase it too much that it affects the metal adversely. Instead, you need to keep track of your feed speed and change it according to the circumstance. Constantly changing the feed speed and welding could upgrade the welding quality.
During welding, check how the welding tip is penetrating the metal surface. If you notice any unexpected change, check the contact tip and the feed speed. Also, do not forget to maintain your welding components regularly. Small changes and maintenance of the welding components can bring a big difference to the final output.
Whenever you weld something, the metal object gets melted and becomes prone to the oxygen of open air. Oxidation can be very irritating and reduce the strength of the metal object. In order to eliminate this issue, the technique you need to apply is called anti-oxidation or purging.
Use an inert gas like helium or argon while you are welding. These gases will have no reaction to metal but the oxygen will not be able to enter the surface. As a result, no oxidation will hamper your welding process.
You can even use a flux rod for achieving this anti-oxidation. Make sure to have carbon gas inside the flux rode before starting to work. That carbon will react to the oxygen and bond with it during welding. As the oxygen is reacting with the carbon, it won’t be able to oxidize the metal you are welding.
Remember that you should use the inert gas slowly. The diffusion rate of gases is not the same, and the anti-oxidation process will vary. For example, argon is heavier than air, so you need to release the gas from the downside and let it go upward. But when you are working with helium, it is lighter, so you need to release it from the top and let it go downward.
5. Better Cleaning
You know that cleaning is important for welding, but the question is, how to do the cleaning efficiently? Let me talk about some tools you can use for cleaning the metal objects. You can use them for cleaning the metal surface before and after welding.
- Sandpaper: If the metal object has an immense amount of paint or rust, sandpaper is the right tool for you. Remember that your target is to keep the metal scratch-free, so using a finer grit between 320 to 1000 should provide a better result. If you use a coarser grit, surely you can do it faster, but the metal will get scratched.
In case your finer grit fails, you can use abrasive blasting for advanced cleaning. I would recommend this for industry-level jobs as it provides the best solution.
- Wire Brush: Wire brush is easier than other cleaning methods, and you can clean the grooves and odd angles using it. Remember, you cannot use a single type of wire brush for all kinds of stuff. A steel wire brush will work on aluminum but never on iron. For iron, you should get a carbon steel wire brush.
- Angle Grinder: If you have a thick metal and want to remove the biggest contaminants on the surface of it, you should use an angle grinder. Do not use an angle grinder on thinner metal as it will damage the metal surface and you won’t be able to weld. Use it only for thicker metal objects.
Welding is a very sensitive job and not being careful can lead to an improper and faulty weld that breaks easily. After reading the article, I hope you have a clear idea about why your welds are not holding. And I hope that the solutions I’ve provided will help you make better and stronger welds in the future.
Thanks for reading and best of luck in your welding projects.