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Welding in your home garage can be done safely when following certain guidelines. Many workshops have a lot of tools and equipment besides welding machines that can start a fire. With the right equipment and precautions, the risks can be minimized.
Welding in the garage can be made safe by dedicating a particular area in the garage just for welding. Garages can have a lot of fire hazards such as oils, chemicals, and easily flammable materials, which should be removed. Having the right tools and protective equipment provides safety and minimizes accidents and risks.
In this article, we look at safety precautions, equipment, and tools required to weld safely. We also look at typical electricity needs for welding machines and how to ventilate the garage from harmful welding gasses. We also think about insurance and legal issues if you want to start a home welding business.
Welding Safety Rules
Study And Keep Learning – Know safety procedures and educate yourself on safety guidelines set in place by national organizations and your possible workplace. This ensures a safe and productive workplace for everyone. Review also manufacturer instructions before operating new equipment you are not familiar with. The industry is constantly changing and evolving, and new technology is adopted. So keep yourself up to date.
Protect Yourself From Harmful Gasses and Fumes – Ensure the working area is well ventilated to protect yourself from exposure to welding gasses. Have at least one of these, preferably more. Exhaust Fan, Welding Fume Extractor, Heavy Duty Fan and Welding Respirator Mask.
Precaution Against Electrocution – Always inspect the electrode holder and wires for damage before welding. Ensure your gloves and clothes are dry and in good condition. Never touch the metal parts of the electrode holder with bare skin or wet clothing. Also, keep dry insulation between your body and the ground or metal being welded.
Check the Equipment Before Usage – Inspect all the equipment that they are functioning properly and is fully grounded. Look for signs of wear and tear. Inspect the hoses and wires and make sure they are in good condition. Make this a habit to inspect all before starting to work. You can never be too safe.
Clean and Clutter-Free Workspace – Keep the working area clean and clutter-free. Keep things organized and everything where it belongs. Remove any flammable materials and use welding blankets and covers to protect the surrounding areas from sparks and spatter that might cause a fire.
Know Your Environment – If you are in a new area, take a good look at the surrounding areas. Know where everything is located. Know the locations of fire alarms, emergency exits, first-aid, and fire extinguishers. They are vital for your safety.
Wear Personal Protective Equipment: Any exposed skin is vulnerable to the harmful effects of UV, Infrared rays, sparks, spatter, and heat generated by welding. A welder must be fully covered always when welding. This includes:
- Flame and electric shock resistant and insulated clothing such as. Coveralls, pants, jacket, boots, gloves, cap, and neck protector.
- Head Protection. Welding helmets, face shields.
- Gas and fume protection. Fume extraction systems and respirators or masks.
Enforce Safety Procedures – if you see safety violations, report them immediately and refuse to work in dangerous situations or with unsafe equipment. Keep yourself and others accountable when it comes to following safety guidelines.
Different Types of Welding Techniques
There are many types of welding, but these three are the most common ones. If you are just starting out, consider learning MIG or Stick welding first. When you feel more confident, and your skills grow. Move on to the TIG welding techniques.
All welding works basically the same. An electric arc is generated with the welding machine that produces enough heat between the electrode (wire or sticks) and the metals being melted together. Protective gas is also used to prevent oxygen or other contaminants weakening the weld.
MIG welding requires more equipment than stick welding but is considered the easiest form of welding to learn. MIG welding requires a MIG machine, MIG gun, protective gas, and other relevant equipment. The gas has to be purchased separately and is stored in refillable cylinders. The cylinders need to be always secured for tipping over. MIG uses wire for a filler, and you need different thicknesses of wires depending on the machine and your projects. You also need spare welding tips for the MIG gun.
Stick welding typically has the lowest starting cost. It is considered by some one of the most straightforward welding processes to learn, same as MIG. In stick welding, you use single rods that combine your electrode, protective gas, and filler all in one. You need a stick welding machine and rods with other relevant equipment for stick welding. Welding sticks have a limited shelf life that decreases when the package is opened. Plus, you don’t need to purchase or store gas in cylinders.
TIG welding requires about the same amount of equipment as MIG welding, but it is considered the most difficult form of welding to learn. TIG welding requires a TIG capable machine and a TIG torch. TIG welding separates the filler material and electrode. Tungsten is used as an electrode inside the torch, and a filler rod is injected into the torch. So this process requires both hands, unlike MIG and stick, which combine the filler and electrode, requiring only one hand. TIG welding also requires protective gas, the same as MIG. So you need a gas cylinder with other relevant equipment. TIG welding can be used in both ferrous and non-ferrous metals.
How Do I Prepare My Garage for Welding?
Preparing the garage for welding takes a few precautions and special equipment. Having a dedicated space for all sorts of hot work that can produce sparks if safest. Almost all job places dealing with equipment that can cause a fire have dedicated areas for hot work. This is usually required by the law.
Preparing a dedicated area for welding with blankets, mats, and other fireproof equipment is wisest. Garages have all sorts of fire hazards, and these should be accounted for and removed from the welding area altogether. Good ventilation is required with personal protective equipment. Readiness to put out fires is also essential.
Start by cleaning the garage entirely and getting rid of stuff you don’t really need. A welding area can be constructed when the garage is empty and free of dust(flammable). There are cheap starter kits, too, so you don’t need all of this equipment when you are just starting out.
However, it is vital to prevent fires, so welding curtains/blankets and mats(welding sparks and spatter will ruin your garage flooring.) With a fire extinguisher is a minimum. You also need to shield yourself with personal protective equipment. Heavy-duty fans are also recommended as other means of ventilation. So you need to invest a little.
Welding Area in the Garage
- Welding Curtains/Blankets – For protecting the surrounding areas from sparks and spatter that might cause a fire. (at Amazon)
- Welding Mats – Protect the garage flooring from welding sparks and spatter. (at Amazon)
- Welding Table – Special table made for welding. (at Amazon)
- Garage Lights – Proper illumination of the workspace is an important safety factor. (at Amazon)
- First Aid Kit – In case of accidents. (at Amazon)
Welding Equipment and Tools
- Welding Machine – Machines for one type of welding, or you can get a multi-purpose machine for different types of welding.
- MIG Welder (at Amazon)
- TIG Welder (at Amazon)
- STICK Welder (at Amazon)
- MULTI-PROCESS Welder: If you plan to purchase a multi-use process machine, some do not include a TIG torch or other accessories. And need to be purchased separately. Always make sure everything is compatible. (at Amazon)
- Ground Clamps – Spare clamps for the welding machine (at Amazon)
- Welding Chipping Hammer – Removes welding spatter/slag. (at Amazon)
- Welding Pliers – Multi-use pliers for drawing out welding wire and removing or installing tips and nozzles. (at Amazon)
- Wire Brush – Removes paint and rust and cleans objects effectively. (at Amazon)
- Magnetic Square – For holding, and positioning metal. (at Amazon)
- Magnetic Tools – For holding and positioning metal. (at Amazon)
- Welding Clamps – For holding and positioning metal. (at Amazon)
- Soapstone – Marking tool for metal that can withstand high temperatures. (at Amazon)
- Sheet Metal Gauge – For determining the thickness of metal. (at Amazon)
- Angle Grinder – For cutting and filing the metal (at Amazon)
Welding Ventilation in the Garage
- Exhaust Fan – Exhaust fans are installed directly on the wall. Providing effective ventilation of gasses. (at Amazon)
- Welding Fume Extractor is a portable or permanent installed fume extractor that sucks up harmful gasses. (at Amazon)
- Heavy Duty Fans – Fans suitable for a garage environment. (at Amazon)
- Welding Respirator Mask – A half mask can be used under the welding helmet. (at Amazon)
Check also our garage cooling article that covers exhaust and heavy duty fans among other coolers.
Personal Protective Equipment for Welding
- Welding Helmet – Auto-darkening helmet that shields the face/head and eyes. (at Amazon)
- Fireproof Coveralls / Pants / Jacket – Heat, UV, and fire-resistant clothing. (at Amazon)
- Welding Gloves – Heat, UV, and fire-resistant clothing. (at Amazon)
- Welding Cap – Heat, UV, and fire-resistant clothing. (at Amazon)
- Welding Neck Protector – Heat, UV, and fire-resistant clothing. (at Amazon)
- Welding Boots – Heat, UV, and fire-resistant clothing. (at Amazon)
Fire Extinguisher / Prevention Equipment
- Fire Extinguisher – For putting out fires. Multi-class extinguishers (A, B, C) are best for a garage environment with many hazardous materials. (at Amazon)
- Fire Blanket – Fire blankets are suitable secondary extinguishers and can be used to smother fires. (at Amazon)
- Smoke Detector – Senses the presence of smoke. (at Amazon)
Ventilating the Garage When Welding
Ventilating the garage is very important when welding. Welding produces all sorts of harmful gasses such as carbon monoxide, argon, ozone, and nitrogen oxide. Fumes contain substances that can, in the long term, cause diseases. You should always minimize your exposure to such gasses.
You can ventilate the welding fumes out of the garage with exhaust fans in the wall, special welding fume extractors, and heavy-duty fans suitable for the garage environment. Using a respirator mask under the welding helmet also provides additional safety.
Check this part of the article for suitable and recommended equipment.
Other Welding Associated Risks
There are also other things to consider besides dangerous fumes when welding.
- Working in bad posture.
- Lifting heavy items.
- Noise exposure.
- Electric shock.
- Eye damage from the welding arc if unprotected exposure.
- Eye damage from metal particles if unprotected exposure.
- Skin damage from the welding arc or hot objects if unprotected exposure.
Always wear complete personal protective equipment when welding, cutting, grinding metal, and other materials.
Welding Electricity Needs in the Garage
Before buying a welder, check the power you have available in the garage. Often you need an electrician to install a dedicated circuit just for the welder. It is common for 120V circuits to come with a 20A breaker. (older homes have only 15A breakers)
Consider the unit specs and requirements for primary voltage and minimum circuit size required. Look also recommended circuit size to achieve maximum output.
There are some general rules:
- 115V welders require a minimum breaker size of 20A with 30A recommended (for welding at up to 140 Amps)
- 230V welders require a minimum breaker size of 30A with 50A recommended (for welding at up to 180 Amps)
- Welding at an output of 200 Amps or more requires a minimum 50A breaker, and more is strongly recommended.
Amperage and Metal Thickness in Welding
Generally speaking, you need 1 amp of power for every 0.001″ of steel thickness. Stainless steel and welding out-of-position require 10 to 15% less heat input, while aluminum requires about 25% more.
|Gauge||Metal Thickness (Inches)||Metal Thickness(mm)||Required Amps (rounded)|
Welding does not use much electricity in a month (about 3-12 kWh), but it depends on the welder’s size. So welding every day will not affect your total electricity costs more than a few bucks.
Can I Run a Welding Business From Home?
Welding business can be run at home. Maybe you are an experienced welder or just starting out. You only need suitable space and equipment to get going. A garage is a great place to do this sort of work and can be converted to a full workshop fit for any purpose. You could do this part or full-time.
Welding can be started cheap with welding starter kits, and the internet is full of suitable courses to get started. Many schools teach welding too. (professional welders have advanced education and qualifications.) you can do some serious welding jobs when you learn the skills, or maybe you just want to make metal art that does not require so much strength from the welding seams.
If you are serious about welding or are an expert already, you need to invest in quality equipment and tools. (Check this part of the article) You also need customers. Youtube channels and websites are an excellent way to get customers or show your art. You could also do all sorts of jobs in your local area. Maybe have portable equipment in your car or fix cars and other metal structures at your workshop.
There will always be a need for professional welders or talented artists. Once people know you or your brand, you will have a decent flow of customers.
Welding Insurance and Legal Issues
Start by getting information on whether it is even legal to weld in your residential area in the garage. Then contact your insurance company for info if you need additional insurance or does your insurance has any stipulations or clauses that cover welding.
Usually, it is legal to weld in the garage as long as it’s for personal projects. Detached garages are best for workshops.
If you are planning a welding business, you need to contact the legal entities in your area responsible for permits and possible zoning issues. You need at least public liability insurance.
How Much Does It Cost to Start Welding?
Welding can be started cheap with starter kits, including some tools. That cost from $100-$350. Quality welding machines cost from $300 – $1,200. But you need to invest in other things too, such as:
- Welding curtains/blankets and mats(curtains and blankets prevent fires. Mats shield the flooring from welding sparks and spatter.) From $50-$250
- A fire extinguisher. From $20-$40
- Personal protective equipment. From $150-$300
- Heavy-duty fans are also recommended as other means of ventilation. From $70-$200
So the total varies greatly.
See the full list at this part of the article.
How Long Does It Take To Become a Welder?
A high school diploma is often required, but not always. Certification program lengths vary by country. But in most US states, you can get started after 7-18 months of school.
What Shielding Gas Is Used for MIG Welding?
The most common shielding gas is a mix of 75% argon and 25% Co2. Other mixture ratios are used as well. Only Co2 can be used only and sometimes helium.
What Metals Cannot Be Welded Together?
- Aluminum and copper
- Aluminum and carbon steel
- Aluminum and stainless steel
- Titanium and steel
What Are the Essentials in Welding?
- Correct current
- Correct arc length and voltage
- Correct travel speed
- Correct electrode size
- Correct electrode angle
What Is Voltage in Welding?
Welding voltage controls the arc length. Which is the distance between the molten weld pool and the wire/stick filler metal at the point of melting within the arc. As the voltage increases, the weld bead will flatten out more and have an increasing width-to-depth ratio.
What Is ARC Time?
ARC time measures the amount of time a welder actually spends welding.
How Long Does a Fire Watch Last?
Firewatch is required after any hot work, and you should remain in the area for a minimum of 30-60 minutes and monitor for smoldering fires. Especially if there are any flammable materials nearby.
What Are the Symptoms of an Arc Eye?
Staring the welding arc without eye protection can cause injury to the surface of the mucous membrane of the front of the eye. The symptoms may not be felt until several hours after exposure.
The symptoms are:
- Pain – ranging from mild to severe
- Bloodshot eyes – Tearing and reddening of the membrane around the eye.
- Sand in the eye sensation
- Abnormal sensitivity to light
- Photophobia – Inability to look at light sources
What Is Stickout in Welding?
Stickout or CTWD (contact tip to work distance) is the distance the wire must travel between the workpiece and the edge of the contact tip. Long stickout increases amperage, and a shorter stickout reduce amperage.
Can You Weld if the Ground Is Wet?
Do not weld if the ground is wet. This can be very dangerous, and you risk electrocution and death. Always wear dry personal protective equipment.