Many types of welding require gas in order to create a gas shield.
Shielding gas allows a welder to make contact with the metals without other particles or contaminants in the air impacting the weld.
In using this method of welding, full gas tanks are required to complete the weld. You will not be able to continue if you run out of gas!
How can you tell if a welding tank is almost empty?
With a welding tank, there are pressure and flow gauges that will help you determine if your tank is low on gas. Once these gauges reach a certain low level, you should refill your tanks to ensure there is enough gas for future welds.
Running out of welding gas can be dangerous as well as inefficient. Contaminants can get into the weld, which may interfere with your project.
This will leave you without a clean weld puddle, allowing air to get into the job. Keeping your tanks full will allow you to complete a clean and sound project.
Gas is used in oxy-fuel welding, metal inert gas (MIG) welding, and tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding.
All require gas to create a shielded arc for the weld to be contaminant-free. Various gases can be used depending on the type of welding method used.
This can range from oxygen and a fuel gas such as acetylene or propane for oxy-fuel welding to carbon dioxide, argon, or helium for MIG, and argon for TIG welding.
In order to keep this process efficient, you should be aware of when your tank is close to empty. There are a couple of methods to determine if your tank is almost empty.
While these methods cannot give you an exact number, they will help you to judge when it is time to replace a tank!
A welding tank will have a regulator (controls gas out of the tank) with pressure gauges on it. Looking at these gauges will give you a good estimate of the level of gas you have left.
While not exact in their readings, as the gauge gets close to zero, you will have an idea that it is time to replace the tank.
Another way to tell if your tank is empty is weight! If you know the weight of an empty tank and the weight of your full tank, you can find the difference and gauge from there.
You will know the level of gas by the weight after continued use.
This will depend on the type of gas used as well. This method was recommended by welders using oxygen in their tanks!
This test is a quick and fairly easy way to get a good idea of the level of gas in your tank. Take a bowl or pitcher of boiling water and pour it over the outside of your welding tank. Feel the outside of the tank.
You are looking for a change in temperature. You will notice a difference in temperature from a large portion of your tank (usually the empty part) from the remaining gas.
This works well for argon tanks and gives you a rough estimate of how much gas you have left!
There is a chance you will run out of gas during a welding project and quickly notice! There will be a change in the consistency of the welding pool.
While this may happen the first time, you can go into it with notes on levels and time of gas use.
Taking notes will help you gauge how much gas you use in a period of time as well as how your gauge works. Taking note of these factors will allow you to ensure you do not run out the next time!
Continued note-taking from tank refill to refill will only increase the accuracy in which you are able to use as much gas as possible without running out!
You should be looking at the following items on your tank to check the level:
The tank pressure gauge is responsible for telling you how full the tank is. In order to tell if a welding tank is almost empty, read the gauge!
Often measured in pound-force per square inch (psi), the gauge will tell you that the pressure is decreasing.
Notice the pressure your tank is at when full, this could be 1000 psi. When it reaches 500 psi you will know it is halfway empty.
Use this strategy to determine how much gas is left rather than relying on zero.
Some gauges are more accurate than others but this will allow you to understand when your tank is almost empty.
The hose pressure gauge can also help you determine when a tank will become empty. This gauge controls the force at which gas comes out of the tank for welding.
Higher rates will lead to more gas consumption more quickly.
The regulator is used to control the rate at which gas is used for the welding puddle. This ensures that gas will come out steadily and smoothly at an even rate!
Pressure within a tank is too high to come out on its own. The regulator ensures that this gas is released at a safe level.
When checking these gauges there are some important things to remember:
Gauges will vary based on their quality as well as their sensitivity. Most regulators with their attached gauges are more estimates than exact numbers.
Pressure changes will indicate that there is more or less gas, but this is not a perfect number.
The gauges do not always drop consistently either. Sometimes you will notice a high-pressure reading, meaning full, for a long period of time and then a sudden drop.
The gauge may take time to register the rate at which gas is being used. Once adjusted you will need to take notes in the gauge’s behavior to better understand how your gauge works!
Lack of gas could mean the welding puddle will not be sufficiently shielded.
If this happens, contaminants could interfere with the welding job. Interference in the welding job will compromise the quality and possibly the strength of the weld.
You know you are out of gas when you see:
Weld consistency will change with no gas present. The elements in the air will interact with the weld puddle and cause inconsistencies in the work.
This will often look as if bubbles exist or the line is bunched up like a scrunched-up sock.
You may also experience splatter. Small splashes of metal will be found in a scattered dot-like form around the welding puddle and line you are working with.
More severely, you could create holes in the metal you are working with. The weld will be compromised and you unfortunately may be able to see through the metal you are using.
Reacting with the air, you may notice additional smoke and sparking compared to a typical weld when gas is activated. This again is a reaction with contaminants in the air.
If you experience any of the above, it may suggest that you have run out of gas. Immediately turn off your welder and go back to the gauges.
They should indicate that you are definitely not operating on a full tank. Exchange your tank with a full tank and resume welding.
These symptoms should go away and you can resume your gas shielded weld.
The safest way to refill an empty tank is to bring it into a welding supply and have them refill it for you.
They will take your empty tank (given that it is in good working condition) and give you a new full one.
This is the best method for all types of gas refilling in order to ensure safe and high-quality tank cylinders.
To best prepare yourself for always having gas, you can purchase (or lease) multiple tanks. This way you will always have a backup tank for all your welding needs in a timely manner.
When storing gas cylinders, there are important safety precautions to take:
All of these tips will ensure that you are storing your backup gas safely. Once you have emptied the cylinders, return to the supplier for your next refill.
Gas cylinders are crucial to your gas shielded welding projects. Completing them safely requires consistent management of gas levels and keeping them in a safe place! Happy welding!