Any welding gas that escapes from the welding setup without being used correctly for shielding a weld qualifies as a gas leak.
Welding gas leaks can occur for a variety of different reasons. The simplest and most common causes are poorly secured or tightened equipment (such as hoses or valves), or old, worn-out equipment. Fortunately, this type of leak is relatively easy to remedy. In other cases, a gas leak may be caused by a leak inside a welding machine. Gas leaks within welding machines can be difficult and costly to repair – however, a good maintenance schedule can prevent them from occurring.
The primary problem associated with gas leaks, in most cases, is poor weld quality resulting from air entrainment into the gas flow. The role of a shielding gas is to prevent incursion of atmospheric gases and contaminants into the weld, not introduce them. Leaky equipment which sucks in air and directs it onto the weld prevents the gas from doing its job; typically resulting in weld defects like porosity and inclusions, and increasing the incidence of costly rejects or rework.
A more severe risk of gas leaks is a risk to workplace safety. Accumulation of shielding gas in poorly ventilated spaces has been known to cause death by asphyxiation.1 This risk is especially high with argon, which is denser than air and, therefore, liable to accumulate near the ground in pits or confined spaces.
Finally, wasted gas is a waste of money. Though gas is by no means the most expensive consumable, the cumulative costs of even a relatively slow leak over the course of months or years can have a significant (and unnecessary) cost.
Prevention is the best policy for managing gas leaks.
As every welder knows, manual equipment checks should be performed at the start of each welding session. Ensuring these checks are well-documented and built into the work process is the best way of guaranteeing that they are performed.
A bit of preventive maintenance can pay dividends. Repairing worn or aging equipment before it causes welding problems – or worse – is the best way to avoid costly downtime, welding defects, or health and safety risks. Consider an independent CP7/CP47 audit of your gas supply equipment for complete assurance that everything is working as it should be.
To reduce the risk of leaks occurring, Air Products offer process solutions specifically designed to eliminate leaks and pre-weld surge (which is another source of excessive welding gas consumption).
Our new Integra® e2 cylinder is the only welding gas cylinder to feature built-in leak detection, flow control and surge protection. Leaks can be easily detected with the touch of a button at the start of every shift, eliminating the need for time-consuming manual leak checks. Integra® e2 cylinders ensure easy compliance with best practice by identifying whether a leak test has been conducted and showing this on the cylinder's digital display.
For larger welding operations, our Gastrak® service includes an exhaustive end-to-end assessment of your welding set-up. As well as finding and fixing leak sources, our Gastrak® experts can identify the optimal gas flow rate and install engineering measures to easily set and control the flow rate.
Get in touch with us today to find out more about our services or request a no-obligation consultation from an Air Products qualified welding specialist.
References and Further Reading
An industry leading comprehensive guide to gas shielded arc welding and oxy-fuel cutting.