If you’re a welder who sometimes works with galvanized steel, chances are you’ve heard about the bad reputation it gets. Fumes produced during this welding process can be dangerous to your health, but because steel sometimes must be welded after being galvanized, it’s vital to take the proper safety steps.
At Wasatch Steel, we’re here to help. Let’s go over a few safety precautions to take, plus how to get a quality weld and prevent corrosion when working with galvanized steel.
Be sure to wear proper welding protection gear. This includes helmets, gloves, jackets and steel-toed boots, depending on the process you’re using. But unlike other welding processes, you’ll need one additional item: A respirator.
This is required to block zinc oxide fumes, which can be released during welding of galvanized steel. Inhaling these fumes can cause metal fume fever, which will lead to flu-like symptoms that are often severe. Chronic overexposure can even result in death. To help even further here, always weld in a well-ventilated area.
Galvanized steel can also be tough to weld, as the zinc coating can compromise the weld. If at all possible, remove this coating prior to welding. If this isn’t possible, select a filter material that’s made specifically for use on zinc-coated materials. Also pay attention to the galvanizing process – look for electroplated steel if possible, as this will result in a better weld than thicker-coated zinc that you’ll find in other types.
Galvanized steel can be prone to corrosion resistance after welding, and this could cause the weld to suffer from expedient weld failure. You might need to use a post-weld process like painting or re-galvanizing to ensure this doesn’t happen to your materials.