If you are a welder but never got to welding underwater, you must have wondered how people even do it. Especially if you are a TIG welder, you might want to look into this.
TIG welding underwater involves using the welder in a chamber like a submarine, allowing you to complete welding in dry surroundings. Sometimes there are two chambers, when necessary for your work type.
Below you will find an entire guide dedicated to how to TIG weld underwater. It is full of information a welder would need to plan about it.
What Is TIG Welding Underwater?
TIG or Tungsten Inert Gas welding is a specific method to handle soft and thin metals like copper and aluminum. It runs electricity through a tungsten welder to melt them.
Most welding processes have protection from oxidation and contaminants. You can use some gas like argon to keep oxidation and contaminants away from the welds. It is TIG’s inert gas.
You can perform TIG welding underwater, and it is effective because it can produce tough welds. Therefore, they last longer and are resistant to cracking and corrosion. This is crucial during underwater jobs since a crack can potentially cause an accident.
Welders TIG weld underwater in a unique welder habitat. It is a chamber with pumped-in air and pumped-out water. That makes it different from Stick and other typical types of welding.
How To TIG Weld Underwater?
There are two types of underwater welding: wet and dry. And they refer to the environment around the welder. Dry welding is suitable for TIG, whereas wet welding is suitable for Stick.
Dry welding uses a tiny chamber emptied and submerged in water. There is breathable air for the welder. You can attach it to what you work on to get a dry place for welding.
Why do you need a dry environment to TIG weld underwater? Because the gas cannot protect the welds when it is an underwater process. You have to be extra careful in the chamber because it is small. Plus, if there are any gas leaks, it will fill the place up really faster. When that happens, you cannot let yourself out of the door.
Drivers often spend several days underwater, switching between the submerged welding and sleeping chambers. It is ideal for deep and long dives because quickly coming up gives the divers bends. So it is simple if they stay there until the completion of their job.
Is TIG Welding Underwater Expensive?
TIG welding underwater can get very expensive. The chamber used to submerge TIG welder is highly costly to run and purchase. It also takes a long time to complete, unlike Stick welding.
If you want to save money, you can work with wet welding. Then you will not have to spend money on the chamber for a dry environment or the extensive time of performing TIG welding. However, remember that TIG welds will be more durable and stronger to last for years.
What Is The Dry Chamber?
It is a hyperbaric chamber pressurized and submerged to different depths. It is typically an atmosphere perfect for welding and healthy for welders.
The most lucrative appeal of TIG welding underwater is the opportunity to have all the control over the environment. In deep level water, you have to struggle to keep the weld’s structural integrity because the pressure fluctuations can create bad welds.
However, you will be safe inside the chamber. That is something to argue about when it comes to wet welding. In this case, you will not have to fear encountering any animals. You can peacefully enjoy observing them from the inside. Nevertheless, it will require diving into your chamber.
Can There Be Two Chambers?
There can be two chambers. It often happens that companies make two chambers for deep underwater projects. The target is to prevent bends, an unwanted hassle for divers, regardless of whether they will weld or not.
Welders often have projects where they have to spend several days. In cases like that, depressurizing is hard, so an additional sleeping chamber is pretty useful. It will help them avoid depressurizing over and over for single projects.
The chamber is nothing but a room for welders to rest and eat in between their shifts. You will find it in wet welding, too, because welders there also need to depressurize.
Welders usually have to spend half to two-thirds of a day on their single project at a time. Coming up to depressurize takes several hours, which does not make much sense to do, and get back down immediately.
Can One Drown During Underwater Welding?
Since you will work inside the chamber, the chances of drowning are significantly low. But yes, they are there. When you dive deep, you will move down in your cubicle to put up with the pressure. However, during a shallower, you will swoop toward the room.
Driving down and backing up are risky and have caused people to drown. It does not seem very far when you do it regularly, but on average, it is sixty feet down and one hundred and thirty feet at the maximum.
Some normal risks of diving involve different pressures, assorted accidents, and currents. That is why the job requires you to have a certificate confirming your fitness to withstand the tide.
There is the chance of chamber failure, too. Although their construction quality is high, you should check them regularly to see if they need maintenance. If there is any sign of wear, act on it quickly.
What Are Bends? Why Do I Get Them?
Bends are a medical condition taking place when your body comes out of huge pressure too quickly. Although not deadly, it is painful.
Bends cause little nitrogen bubbles to form in the welder’s blood vessels when the body pulls them from their bloodstream. These bubbles, blocking the arteries, can make them rupture or lead to heart attacks too.
While under huge pressure, your body processes the oxygen you breathe, leaving your bloodstream with nitrogen until you depressurize. When you are free from the pressure, your body absorbs the nitrogen quickly and leaves the bubbles.
TIG welders need to depressurize slowly in depressurizing chambers after making deep dives. That lets the nitrogen leave their bloodstreams. Most TIG welding processes take place deep underwater, so they require depressurization.
Are There Other Risks In Underwater TIG Welding?
Yes, there are other risks in underwater TIG welding. I will discuss them briefly.
- First, you can get shocked during your work underwater. Since you will be underwater around electricity and metal, so shocking is a huge possibility.
- The second risk involves explosion. TIG welding underwater involves handling large pieces of equipment. If they break down, there will be an outburst.
- Then comes sudden visits by the animals. They will mostly be there for curiosity or food. Most will not attack you, but you should still be aware of the injured ones.
- Finally, your health will have to bear the brunt of the job. Most TIG welders who work underwater suffer from hypothermia. As a bonus, there is also depression associated with the job.
TIG welding underwater comes with a lot of risks. Some of these risks are not completely avoidable. But if you can take proper measures and take care of yourself regularly, you will keep a healthy balance.
Also, when you have to work for days on a project, remember about depressurization. It is best if you use two chambers. That would help you avoid unnecessary depressurization and hence, bends.
So, that would be all about how to TIG weld underwater. I hope the article was helpful. Thank you for reading!