Overhead MIG welding processes are different from those techniques that can be used in any position. At some point, all welders need to undertake a project that requires welding in an upside-down position. And, this is a tricky proposition. Overhead welding can be an awkward position and new or inexperienced welders will find that it’s a considerable challenge. The welding equipment is used in unusual ways, the safety concerns are very specific, and the logistics are a real concern.
Like any welding technique, there is no substitute for practical experience. But, we have some useful overhead MIG welding tips that can flatten the learning curve significantly.
What are the Steps in the Overhead MIG Welding Position?
Overhead MIG welding is performed under the joint. The metal tends to sag or drop onto the place and the bead tends to have a high crown. To overcome these issues, it’s important to keep the molten puddle small.
Plus, sufficient filler metal should be added to reinforce the bead. If the molten puddle is too large, the flame should be removed briefly to give the weld metal time to freeze.
If you’re welding light sheets, control the puddle size by applying heat equally to the filler rod and base metal. The flame should melt both joint edges and the filler metal should be added to maintain the puddle with good fusion for reinforcement.
The welding flame must support the molten metal and small welding prevents burning caused by uneven distribution along the joint. Using a rod is recommended, and the plates should control the heat. This is very important if the welding job is side only.
Why Is Overhead Welding So Hard?
Vertical and overhead MIG welding are more challenging than in-position welding because the welder is working against the forces of gravity. The molten weld pool is liquid, and it has a natural tendency to drip and sag. This makes the production of high-quality welds difficult.
What Should You Not Do When Welding In The Overhead Position?
Some of the best overhead MIG welding tips are what you shouldn’t do when you’re working in this position:
- If the welding parameters are not adjusted from an in-position to an out-of-position setting there will be higher heat inputs that are not necessary.
- Don’t assume that the same welding techniques and consumables that are used for in-position welding will work equally well for overhead MIG welding.
- Don’t try to work at the same speeds and with a larger molten welding pool because it will be harder to produce an acceptable bead.
What Bead Pattern Is Best for Overhead Welds?
The general consensus is to move the weld bead in a tight circular pattern to compensate for the small bead that is created from the speed of travel.
How Do You Weld in Awkward Positions?
The main challenge of overhead welding is that the welder is fighting against the forces of gravity. The bead of the weld needs to be laid quickly and efficiently. Otherwise, the molten metal puddle will drip on the welder. Increasing the speed of travel is important for overhead welding and choosing the optimal MIG welding settings will be helpful.
Overhead MIG Welding Settings
To improve control, you need low amperage settings because you cannot work with higher temperatures in the same way as you would on a flat surface. Welding with high amperage setting in the vertical up position will cause the weld to drop out because it cannot freeze in time. As an example: to create a perfect vertical-up weld use 120-130 amps at 0.125” 7018 and with 0.125” 6010 go with 90-100 amps.
Which Electrode Is Best for Overhead Position Welding?
To keep the weld bead small and to promote a faster speed of travel use a small diameter electrode to improve control.
FAQ’s–Overhead MIG Welding
What is the hardest welding position?
The most difficult welding position to work in is the overhead position. It’s important to bear in mind that there are two pieces of metal located above the weld. And, they need to angle their equipment to access the joint. The metal sagging from the plate is a challenge that must be overcome to produce a high-quality weld.
Can I MIG weld overhead?
Absolutely, overhead MIG welding works in the same way as MIG welding on a flat surface. But, the major difference is that the welder is working upside down.
How can I make my welding overhead more comfortable?
The welder should use both heads whenever possible to promote stability. This is not always possible, but the rule of thumb is that using two hands is always going to be better than using one.
What type of clothing and eye protection should be worn for overhead welding?
There is no getting around the fact that overhead MIG welding can be unsafe unless all safety protocols are observed. Working with the work-piece above your head and body increases the risks. Therefore, this welding process needs to be approached with a focus on safety first.
During overhead welding, the welder should wear heavyweight clothing made primarily from a tight woven 100% cotton or wool fabric. Why? Well, these materials offer better protection from UV radiation, sparks, open flames, and hot metal drips. It is true that flame retardant materials can work well, but they will lose their effectiveness with regular washing. All safety clothing must be kept free of grease, oils, and other combustible contaminants to reduce the risks of ignition and fires.
Eye protection is important to protect against UV light damage, flying debris, and other sources of potential eye injuries. There are many types of welding helmets on the market that offer varying degrees of protection for different types of welding processes. A welding helmet may have an auto-darkening lens that makes automatic adjustments to the welding rays.
Other models have a passive lens design that uses the full shade number at all times. Choosing the right comfort and fit is very important when you’re planning overhead MIG welding jobs and projects. Researching your options is essential to ensure that you get a welding helmet that meets all your needs.
When welding in the overhead position, where should the electrode be?
The welding gun should be held at an angle relative to the bead of the weld to improve the speed of travel. But, the gun nozzle must be clean to prevent a fast build-up of spatter which is a real risk during overhead welding. Using an anti-spatter spray can help to prevent spatter buildup on the welding gun nozzle. When you weld with the gun at an angle, take care to avoid welding liner kinks which can slow the wire speed and compromise the weld quality.
Conclusion–Overhead MIG Welding
Practicing overhead MIG welding to improve speed and precision should be a priority for new welders seeking certification. After all, if you have vertical-up welding certification you are automatically certified for flat welding too!