How Does Underwater Welding Work?


In today’s world, development sees no boundaries and has reached beyond the ground. When talking about development and advancement, welding is an essential part of the job.

When talking about welding underwater, it is even more difficult and hazardous than welding on the ground.

Why Underwater Welding is Needed?

The more risk a job has, the more profitable it becomes. There is always a high demand for underwater welders, but it requires great technical knowledge, experience, welding, and diving skills, and it will take years to become an expert in this field.

Answering the above of question of why there is a need for underwater welding, it is required in maintaining and repairing of ships, oil platforms, floating objects, placing pipelines, marine applications, and for other offshore facilities.

Offshore exploration and obtaining natural ocean resources requires you to have the capability of underwater welding.

Hence, we can say that underwater welding is the future, and this skill is going to be the most prominent and demanding skill in the upcoming years.


Underwater Welding

Safety Precautions

Welding itself is a complete physical job and involves a high probability of risk and hazards; when talking about underwater welding, it is much more difficult and involves much higher risks.

Having said that, it is obviously not impossible; if we follow certain rules, regulations, and safety protocols, we can minimize the risk factor to a certain level.

In addition to the welding safety precautions, underwater welders also need to ensure diving-related health and safety procedures, which is equally important.

You must wear complete personal protective equipment, use insulated and watertight cables, use special waterproof electrodes which are built for underwater welding, keep power supply on a non-conductive platform such as wood or rubber, and be mentally present and active at all times.

Physical strength and power is also the most significant aspect to consider when going for underwater welding.

Methods For Underwater Welding

The process by which we can weld underwater is called Hyperbaric Welding, and there are two techniques that are used for hyperbaric welding.

  • Underwater Dry Welding
  • Underwater Wet Welding

Here in this article, we will present a comprehensive course of action for both of the techniques.

Depth of the water plays an important role here and can cause the performance and functionality of the welding equipment; therefore, you must consider this point before choosing the welding technique.

Before going for any of the methods above, you need to make sure that you have a complete set of tools and equipment which are needed for underwater welding, and if you are going for a repair job, you should exactly know the location and nature of the fault so that you can fix accurately.

Underwater Dry Welding

As the name suggests, it is a type of welding in which you are directly exposed to the water; underwater dry welding is done by constructing an enclosed chamber placed around the structure which is going to be weld. In this way, you get the dry environment in underwater for welding.

Underwater Dry Welding technique is mostly done by using the Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) is used; however, you can use other welding techniques as well.

Once you are in the chamber, you can weld as you do on the ground as you will not be faced by the water.

Underwater Wet Welding

In this type of welding, you and the welding equipment will directly be exposed to the water. Underwater wet welding is much more difficult than dry welding; locating the defect and then the welding process both takes much time and resources. When going for this type of welding, you need to follow steps and be very vigilant and focused.

The first thing you need to do is to analyze the situation properly, be aware of the task you are going to perform, gather necessary tools and gears, prepare a team if required, and plan accordingly.

The preferred welding technique for underwater is Shielded Metal Arc Welding SMAW, or also called as stick welding, and uses the Direct Current power supply.

Flux-cored Welding technique can also be used for underwater wet welding. The AC power supply is not used as it becomes difficult for the diver to control the arc, and thus it can affect the diver with an electric shock.

The DC power supply should be connected to the welding equipment using double-insulated cables and hoses. Always use waterproof electrodes when going for underwater wet welding. Electrode holders are also made highly insulated for added protection.

Once the diver is in the water, test the welding equipment for operation, and make sure that you are able to connect with the surface operator. Reach to the point where you are going to perform the process; use c-type ground clamps and flash arrestors for safety.

Ensure that you are able to see clearly, and once the testing is done, you can start the welding process. Go slow and do not speed up the process unnecessarily as it may result in huge damage.

The gas bubble will be created in large amounts and will disrupt the vision; you should proceed carefully, take the reading where necessary, and follow the safety protocols at all times as the slightest mistake can cause huge damage.

Once you have completed the process, ask the surface operator to turn off the power supply as it is not required, now you need to make sure that you have performed the welding process successfully and there no fault in it.

Examining it also becomes difficult in this situation; at this stage, you can use Nondestructive testing techniques to check for the faults fully.

Repair the fault if found, and then you are good to go back to the surface. Achieving perfection is quite difficult in underwater wet welding; however, if you use the proper set of equipment and follow the standard procedure, you can get a quality weld.

In the end, we would say that there are a lot of considerations that we need to take for performing the underwater welding process.

It is usually used for repairing and maintenance work and is considered as a short term solution. However, the more you practice, the better result you can achieve.

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