When you set out to weld aluminum pipe you may encounter a few problems, including overheating and melting the aluminum. Since an aluminum pipe heats up quickly and melts easily, this translates to issues when welding. It's very easy for you to burn away aluminum that you're intending to weld to another pipe. It's not impossible to weld aluminum pipe, but doing so requires care, hints, tricks and tips to do it correctly, all of which you'll find in the article below.
1. Blowtorch the Aluminum Pipe
When you use a welding torch on aluminum pipe, it can distort the material once you create a hotspot. If you use a blowtorch to preheat the aluminum, the likelihood of it distorting decreases. You will need to move quickly though, as if the aluminum pipe gets too hot, you can actually burn right through it.
2. Weld Constantly
When you start to weld the aluminum pipe, it is important that you are constantly moving the welding torch. Failure to do so can create a hotspot, and the aluminum pipe will begin to melt or you can burn a hole through it. You will also need to move the welding torch quickly, much faster than if you were welding steel and some other metals like copper. Never let the welding torch rest on a single area.
3. Use the Right Gas
When welding aluminum pipe, it is a good idea to use argon gas. It is the best choice for the job. You can also use an argon and helium mix, but it will be less effective than straight argon. This is also dependent on the welding equipment you are using.
4. The Right Tool
There are all kinds of welders available, but the best one to use is a TIG welder. This, however, is very expensive, costing well over $5,000.00. A MIG welder can also be used, and they are much cheaper than a TIG welder, but they are more difficult to use.
5. Keep Close Watch on the Electrode
The electrode of the torch welding unit is what produces the heat needed to weld aluminum pipe together. These are typically made out of tungsten and are very durable. If, however, the tungsten electrode becomes damaged or dirty, you must stop at once. If you do not stop, you can seriously damage the aluminum pipe. You will need to replace the electrode. Contamination of the electrode is very common when welding aluminum.
6. Be Clean with the Join
When you are welding steel, you can fill in gaps during the welding process by welding together both surfaces. With aluminum pipe, this is not possible to do, which means the aluminum pipe to be welded must fit together tightly with no gaps. This is the only way to create a clean weld.
7. Polishing the Aluminum
When welding aluminum pipe, it is a good idea to begin with clean metal ends where you intend to weld the pipe together. You can use steel wool in order to polish the pipe to a shine. This will allow for a strong weld.