Vertical Welding - Comprehensive Guide

April 30, 2021

Vertical welding is a kind of welding technique that is often used on construction sites. 

If you have seen a welder working on some sort of pipe fitting, building, or in a shipyard, there is a good chance that they were vertical welding. 

Many new welders often shy away from trying this technique since it can be quite difficult. However, with the right knowledge, it will be easier than it seems. 

This guide will explain what vertical welding is and when it is used. We will also cover how it is different from other kinds of welding and cover all of the equipment you need. 

Finally, this guide will wrap up by describing a few tips for vertical welding to help you stay safe and weld more effectively. 

Keep reading if you are ready to become a vertical welding expert. 

What Is Vertical Welding?

about vertical weld

Vertical welding is one of the four basic welding positions. 

For this position, the welding axis is vertical. Instead of welding with your gun pointed towards the ground, you are welding with your gun facing the horizon. 

The angle that you weld at will be at or below 45 degrees. While vertical welding is useful for many different circumstances, it is one of the trickiest types due to gravity. 

When Is It Used?

Welders will use vertical welding for a few different kinds of projects. 

The most common is on construction sites. There will often be a few large pieces of metal that are too heavy to lay on their side. While machinery can do this, it is not efficient to use a large amount of power to turn a piece of metal on its side just to weld it. This situation is when welders use the vertical welding technique. 

Welders will also use the vertical welding position in the oil and gas industry, shipyards, construction buildings, power plants, and pipe fittings. 

If you ever come across two pieces of metal where the ends face the ground and the sky, you will need to use vertical welding. 

How Is It Different?

There are a few reasons why vertical welding is different than other welding techniques. 

It Requires a Lot of Skill

tips on vertical welding

Vertical welding is one of the toughest welding positions. This is because the molten metal will naturally move downwards because of gravity. 

To do the technique correctly, the welder needs to have a lot of patience, skill, and knowledge of the position. Otherwise, it will be relatively easy to make a mistake. 

The welder will need to choose the correct rod to do the job and take it slow. Since most vertical welding jobs occur on construction sites or buildings, it is vital to avoid making costly mistakes. 

Companies Will Only Hire Skilled Vertical Welders

Many welders fresh out of school can find jobs easily. However, it can be quite difficult to get a job that involves vertical welding. 

As mentioned above, the technique is quite difficult to master. However, the welding industry is in high demand of skilled vertical welders since so many construction projects need them. 

Even so, companies will not hire vertical welders with little experience. The projects that vertical welders work on are costly; companies will not hire someone likely to make a mistake. 

If you are interested in vertical welding, it is good to practice as much as you can. You will need to master the skill to get hired for it. 

There Are Two Main Torch Movements 

moving torch vertical

There are two torch movements for vertical welding. These are vertical-up and vertical-down. 

Vertical-Up 

Vertical-up welding is just as it sounds like. You start at the bottom of the metal and continuously move upwards as you weld.  As you move upwards, you create small “shelves” that you gradually build upon. 

Vertical-up welding requires a lot of patience to do right since the welder is working against gravity as they are doing the job. 

Many welders will use a zig-zag technique for vertical-up welding. In this technique, the welder will focus on the sides of the joint. Doing this will give the weld enough time to cool and prevent the metal from falling on the ground (or your shoes). 

Finally, welders will typically make the shelves about two times larger than the electrode’s diameter. Doing so will give the shelf enough time to cool and solidify before you finish the next shelf. 

Vertical-Down 

Vertical-down welding is very similar to vertical-up welding, except that the weld moves from top to bottom. 

Vertical-down welding introduces two different hazards. There will be an increased risk of burn-through and the molten metal falling on you or around the area you are working. 

Welders must constantly monitor the project to carry out this method safely and efficiently. To avoid overlap and slag, use a quick freezing rod for this technique. This rod will make the process much easier. 

Even though vertical-down welding is a viable option, many welders prefer to use vertical-up welding. Most welders use vertical-down welding if they are working on a thin sheet of metal. 

There Are Three Welding Processes That Work for Vertical Welding

welder on platform

There are only three kinds of welding that work well for vertical welding. These are stick welding, tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, and metal inert gas (MIG) welding.

Stick Welding 

If you are a complete beginner to vertical welding, stick welding will be the best kind of welding to use for this technique. 

Stick welding is a process that uses an electric arc. Electricity flows from the electrode to the metal. Many welders prefer stick welding since it works well on thick pieces of metal and can melt through dirt and rust. For this reason, stick welding is great on construction sites.

However, you cannot use stick welding for thin pieces of metal. 

Stick welding is one of the most favored techniques for outdoor environments. If you are vertical welding in an outdoor construction site, this will be the easiest technique to use. 

Tungsten Inert Gas Welding

TIG welding is a technique that is compatible with most metals. This kind of welding uses a tungsten electrode. 

Many welders prefer TIG for vertical welding since it creates less slag and does not produce as many sparks. Due to these reasons, TIG welding is often recommended for vertical welding. 

One thing that is important to note is that you need to clean the metal before you start welding. Cleaning the metal will help produce a more accurate and neat weld. You will also have more control over the weld. 

Metal Inert Gas Welding

Seasoned welders only recommend MIG for vertical welding if you have lots of experience with this technique. MIG welding for upright joints can be quite difficult. 

Metal inert gas welding uses an electric arc to heat the metal. It also has a continuously fed filler wire.

MIG welding produces a lot of slag, which is why it is not the best option for vertical welding. Even though this technique is the hardest to use for vertical welding, it will produce a strong weld if you correctly use it. 

Equipment Needed

vertical weld

Since vertical welding is a complex task, you will need several pieces of equipment for the job. Even though this welding position is considered one of the hardest positions, some pieces of equipment can make the process easier. 

Let’s take a look. 

Safety Equipment

Vertical welding can pose even more risks than regular welding. This is because gravity plays a major role in this technique. 

There is a risk of molten metal dropping on you if you are not careful. While most welders should ideally take it slow to avoid this problem, accidents happen. 

To avoid experiencing any major injuries on the job, make sure to wear personal protective equipment. 

  • Welding jacket - While welding jackets may be hot to wear, the coat will protect your body and arms. This protection is especially important for vertical welding and will prevent burns from any molten metal that drops. 
  • Welding gloves - Your hands will be the closest body part to the molten metal. Wearing welding gloves will protect them from burns.
  • Steel toe boots - If any molten metal drops, the most common place it will hit is your boots. Wear steel toe boots to protect your feet. 
  • Welding helmet - Welding helmets will protect your face from flash burns and your eyes from infrared and ultraviolet light. 

Welding Machine and Gun

You can use three kinds of welding to do this technique, including stick welding, MIG welding, and TIG welding. 

Before you start, you will need to decide what kind of welding you want to use for vertical welding. 

Each kind will have its own pros and cons. Make sure to review each technique and choose one that will suit your current knowledge, experience, and strengths. For instance, stick welding is the best choice for beginners since it does not deal with shielding gas. 

Once you know what technique you will be using, get the proper welding machine and torch. 

Welding Electrode

Choosing the right electrode is one of the most important steps of vertical welding. Using the right electrode will make the job much easier, safer, and efficient. 

When choosing an electrode, make sure to pick one with a lower iron powder concentration. Electrodes that have high amounts of iron powder will greatly increase the dry-time of the molten metal. This, in turn, will increase the chance of dripping and will produce more slag. 

If you are using the vertical-up technique, an AWS 6010 or 7018 rod will work well. For vertical-down welding, the AWS 7024 rod will be suitable. 

Additional Tips

tips on vertical welding

Vertical welding can be a difficult and possibly dangerous process. However, there are a few tips that will help. 

  • Use low power and current settings. Never use high power settings when vertical welding; this could result in undercutting. Using low power and current settings will increase the amount of control you have over the weld. Using low settings will also decrease the pool size of the weld.
  • Use an auto-darkening helmet. Vertical welding requires a lot of focus. Using an auto-darkening helmet will give you one less thing to worry about during the process. These helmets are very convenient and easy to use.
  • Use exterior welding lenses. Exterior welding lenses go over top of the auto-darkening lens. Since vertical welding produces many sparks and spatter, exterior welding lenses will be beneficial to use. Keep a few extras in your pocket since you will probably have to replace them a few times. 
  • Wear a leather headcover. When it comes to vertical welding, expect sparks and spatter to go everywhere. To avoid burning your hair or scalp, make sure to invest in a high-quality hood or head covering. Leather will be the best material for this.
  • Make sure to take breaks between welds. As we have covered, vertical welding requires a lot of focus. However, if your body starts to overheat, you could easily lose focus and possibly experience adverse health effects. It is extremely important to take water breaks to avoid dehydration and overheating while on the job. 

Conclusion

Vertical welding is one of the most challenging welding techniques. 

However, with practice and patience, it won’t be as hard as it seems. 

Vertical welding can be difficult because gravity tends to pull the molten metal downwards, which could lead to complications. However, if you use the proper welding electrode, the process will be much easier. 

When buying an electrode, choose one that has low iron powder content. These kinds of electrodes will help you have more control over the weld and decrease the dry time. 

Before you start welding, it is essential to invest in proper personal protective equipment. Vertical welding produces a large number of sparks and spatter, which will go everywhere. To prevent injuries, wear a jacket, hood, helmet, gloves, and steel-toe shoes.

To conclude, take your time and be patient. If you take water breaks every now and then and don’t rush the weld, you will be fine. 

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