6 Steps To Test If A Welding Helmet Is Working

6 Steps To Test If A Welding Helmet Is Working

Welding is the process of fusing things together, usually metals, with high heat.

This can be used on small projects such as furniture and work all the way up to constructing bridges.

Regardless of the project, the process of welding is incredibly dangerous. Welding uses intense heat that emits harmful ultraviolet light.

How can you test if a welding helmet is working? There are many steps you can take to see if a welding helmet is working. If a helmet is not working effectively, it could cause intense damage to your sight and overall health. Precautions before and after are crucial.

There are different helmets one can wear based on the type of welding project they are working on. Lens changes can be frequent and the key is to make sure these lenses are secure and that you are able to protect yourself from light, sparks, and the intensity of the heat!

Keep reading to find out how exactly you can keep yourself safe!

6 Steps To Test If a Welding Helmet Is Working

Passive Vs Auto-darkening Welding Helmet

There are two main types of helmets, passive welding helmets and auto-darkening helmets.

A passive welding helmet is manual and requires changing of lenses while an auto-darkening helmet is computerized to lighten or darken based on the light emitted during a weld.

Both helmet types are effective in protecting yourself from harmful light and heat. However, depending on your helmet, the steps to test if it is working will vary slightly.

Steps for Checking Your Helmet:

  • Code check
  • Proper fit
  • Lens selection and security
  • Sun test
  • Visibility
  • Eye fatigue

Regardless of the type of helmet you purchase, they are all required to adhere to safety standards.

Before using any helmet or purchasing a helmet, you should make sure it is compliant with safety codes.

Code Check

ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2015 is the current standard that your helmet should adhere to.

The International Safety Equipment Association set these standards in place to make sure welding helmets are safe and effective.

The regulation is subject to updates as new technologies come to the market. Make sure your helmet matches these specifications before you even attempt to weld.

Helmets that do not comply with the code could be incredibly hazardous to your health and eyesight.

You want to make sure that your welding helmet fits well! You don’t want it to be too loose or too tight as this could impact your vision as well as safety.

Proper Fit

You want to make sure that your welding helmet fits well.

You don’t want it to be too loose or too tight as this could impact your vision as well as safety.

If it is too loose, there is a risk of shifting, possibly exposing parts of your neck or losing clear vision through the lens.

A helmet that is too tight may be uncomfortable when working for long periods of time.

Always lean towards too snug rather than too loose to ensure safety.

Your helmet should click into place with a snap of your neck.

If the helmet does not lower itself with a neck snap downward, you either tightened the sides to keep it held up in place, or you may have a faulty helmet.

This downward positioning is crucial to cover your face during a weld. Welders will look at their workspace, snap their neck to put the helmet in the correct position, then begin their weld.

If your flame meets the metal before your helmet is down, you will experience a “flash.” This is exposure to intense light and ultraviolet rays.

This can be incredibly dangerous and negatively impact your vision.

Lens Selection and Security

The type of welding you are doing will often determine the lens you will need.

Lenses often range from a #9 for lower amperage (strength of an electric current) to a #13 high amperage application.

Your welding job will determine which lens you need.

An auto-darkening helmet eliminates the need for the lens to be switched out because it is designed to adjust to the higher amperage.

You must also make sure that the lens is correctly set into place for passive helmets.

Incorrect placement can cause eye damage.

Sun Test

You can test to see if a helmet works, both passive and auto-darkening, by looking at the sun outside.

This is often a better gauge for the quality of an auto-darkening helmet than any other test.

You will be able to see how quickly your lens adjusts to the increased intensity in light.


Make sure you are using the correct lens for your project.

Too much light might penetrate the lens and may impact your eye health while a lens that is too strong might impact your welding accuracy by being too dark.

Determine what kind of welding you are doing before selecting the corresponding lens.

Eye Fatigue

The most obvious indicator that your welding helmet is not working will be if you develop eye fatigue.

Eye fatigue is usually the result of too much light being passed through the lens.

Eye fatigue can manifest itself through pain in the eyes, headaches, blurry vision, and/or double vision. You should adjust lenses immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Many welders also wear protective see-through glasses under their welding helmet. This does not block visibility but instead creates another layer of protection from harmful ultraviolet rays.

Quick Checklist for Welding Helmets:

  • Is my helmet up to code?
  • Am I using the proper intensity lens for the job I’m working on?
  • Is my lens firmly in place?
  • Did my helmet snap down all the way before I started the weld?
  • Do my eyes or head hurt after my weld? If so, change one of the above!

How Auto-Darkening Helmets Work

Illustration Of How Darkening Helmet Works

Auto-darkening helmets are designed to darken when they sense welding taking place.

The helmets are usually set at a #3 or #4 lens to allow for total visibility in clear glass.

The helmet can sense when a welding arc appears and immediately darken the lens.

This is a helpful feature for people who are working with many different welding types and intensities during a job.

People often buy these helmets for their convenience and ability to help complete jobs more quickly than a passive helmet.

The helmet does not need to be removed for lens changes, and no neck snapping is required, making it much more comfortable for a long day of welding.

These helmets come in fixed and variable types.

Fixed auto-darkening helmets will darken to a fixed shade. This is helpful for welders who work with the same materials and the same amps for most jobs.

Variable types will darken depending on the welding arc.

When purchasing an auto-darkening helmet you should pick the one with the quickest reaction time and the largest lens viewer.

Faster reaction time to changing intensities means greater safety for your eyes. This requires a top quality sensors within your helmet.

Additionally, having a large view size in the lens will give you a better field of vision for your work.

Unlike a passive helmet, auto-darkening helmets require batteries or a power source.

You must make sure your batteries are charged or in good health before every weld.

If they are not, you will risk damaging your eyesight as the helmet will not automatically darken.

Ensure that your helmet is turned on before use. This is a great time for the “sun test” to ensure the light is adjusting.

Do Auto-Darkening Helmets Go Bad?

Using Welding Helmet

Some auto-darkening helmets will not be as effective as others for long periods of time based on their quality.

Your helmet may not be working because of:

  • Quality
  • Temperature
  • Battery

Lower quality helmets have a greater risk of losing their reaction speed to changing light as well as not completely adjust within all cells of the lens.

Quality is very important when it comes to your eyesight.

This means that paying a little more for a high-quality mask may be worth it.

Reaction time is very important as changes in amps emit different levels of light quickly. If the helmet cannot adjust quickly enough, your eye health is at risk.

If you have not used your helmet in a while or it has been left in a cold temperature environment, you may experience delayed reaction times and inconsistent lens coverage.

If this is the case, try putting your helmet in the sun for a few hours or keeping it in a warm location. You should notice that the lens will regain its speedy adjustment and full function.

Welding helmets are an absolute necessity for any welder at any amperage job. The harmful light emitted during welding poses great danger for your eye health.

Knowing how to properly use a welding helmet, either passive or auto-darkening, will ensure you are completing your jobs safely.

Welders prefer different helmets based on comfort and the types of jobs they work on, so choosing one will come down to what works best for you to get the job done.