When you have too little current flowing through the electrode, you will have a sticky electrode, a stuttering arc, or an arc that keeps flickering out while maintaining the correct arc length.
Why Does A Welding Rod Stick To Base Metal?
35 Types Considered
180 Hours of Research
31 Experts Interviewed
96 Cases Analyzed
This is usually a frustrating experience when you try to weld perfectly but there is a lot of splatter all over the place. This is due to the rod sticking to the metal.
1. Low Current Settings
Previously, I mentioned that welding rods stick to metal mostly because of low current values. The amperage is sufficient to melt the electrode tip but not to ignite the arc.
2. Low Open Circuit Voltage
The arc disappears quite quickly when your machine’s OCV (Open Circuit Voltage) is too high. You are more likely to stick the electrode when you try to strike the arc again at a low OCV.
In some cases, a low OCV may be caused by a high resistance connection between the ground and your workpiece.
3. Poor Flux Quality
Poor flux coatings can cause sticking problems as well as molten flux falling off the rod and adhering to the base metal before melting.
The melting point of flux is lower than that of base metal, so it is already liquid before it even begins to melt. If the welding rod falls off, poor flux coatings can cause it to stick to the base metal.
4. Shorter Arc Length
This is the distance between the electrode tip and the base metal surface. Therefore, arc length is just the length of an electric arc.
Similarly, if you push the electrode too far away from the base metal, your arc will extinguish.
If you bring the electrode too close to the base metal, it will be glued to it. Therefore, maintaining an optimal arc length is extremely important.
5. Dirty Metal Surface
Welding electrodes will keep sticking to the base metal at intervals if the rusted metal surface makes it difficult to make an arc. Using Ohm’s Law, the rusty surface of the metal makes it harder to strike an arc.
Voltage (V) = Current (A) X Resistance (Ω)
Hence, an increase in resistance will result in a proportional decrease in current, as the voltage is constant.
Our circuit becomes more resistant when the surface is rusted, which in turn decreases the amount of current flowing. In addition, as I mentioned before, electrode sticking problems are primarily caused by low amperage values.
Welding rods can stick to rusted surfaces because the rusty surface provides enough electrical contact points.
Rods can also stick if the surface is not properly prepared. On painted surfaces, electrical energy cannot make adequate contact with the metal, resulting in a “capacitor effect” that disrupts the flow of electricity.
6. Incorrect Electrode Selection
There are several types of welding rods, and each has its own applications and advantages. Some rods can work only with DC power, while others can work with both AC power and DC power.
It is also possible to have electrode sticking issues when welding thin sheets if you select a thick rod.
Let’s say you use an E6013 rod at the right amperage value but your filler rod still sticks to the base metal. Switching to a thinner 1/16-inch rod can resolve this problem.
7. Arc Lengths
Having an electrode positioned incorrectly will result in a wide variance in the arc length, resulting in electrical resistance and sticking.
Sticking can be prevented by maintaining a consistent arc length throughout the welding process.
Generally speaking, thinner materials will have a longer arc length than thicker ones because they have less metal. When welding thinner materials, it is normal for the arc length to increase.
8. Poor Welding Techniques
In addition to sticking problems, improper welding techniques may lead to poor arc stability, which can lead to loss of control over your electrode.
This is particularly problematic with stainless steels, which require a high heat input to melt.
A welding arc that cannot be stabilized will take the path of least resistance, sticking to the electrode rather than having the welding current flow into the workpiece.
Furthermore, if you are using a 1/16-inch stick electrode, maintaining a low travel speed is critical, since high travel speeds on thin materials may also cause sticking.
9. Electrode Angle
It is imperative to maintain the correct electrode angles when stick welding in order to avoid rod sticking (polarity).
In general, stick welding should be done at least 20 to 30 degrees. Holding the electrode at too steep or shallow an angle result in sticking and poorly-looking welds. The trick is to maintain the right angle between low and high.
Welding Angles For AC And DC Can Vary
Welders that use AC typically maintain an electrode angle of about 20 to 30 degrees, while welders that use DC recommend maintaining an electrode angle of 45 degrees.
This difference in weld angles is due to the difference in polarity as explained below:
Direct current, or AC, consists of a positive electrode and negative ground, and therefore, maintain a consistent polarity by keeping your electrode at an angle of 20-30 degrees.
A 45-degree angle is recommended to prevent the rod from sticking to the base metal when working with DC, which has a constant polarity with a positive electrode and negative ground.
10. Lack OF PRE-FLOW
During pre-flow, the electrode is placed before the workpiece is reached, which stabilizes the arc, reduces spatter, and prevents the workpiece from sticking.
For pre-flow, you need to run a 20 watt circuit for about two seconds or a 40 watt circuit for about fifteen seconds. It is possible to run higher currents, but it is not recommended.
During the preheating process, you use an open flame to heat the metal before welding it, depending on whether it is difficult to weld or old and brittle.
A torch (acetylene, propane) and electricity (induction heating) can be used to start the preheating process. The metal will only be heated for a short period of time, as excessive heat can damage it.
NOTE: Do not overheat foods for an extended period of time, as this can cause them to warp and crack.
12. Contact Tip Size
You should maintain a gap between the electrode and the contact tip of the welding torch, which must be around 0.33 to 0.55 inches. If the gap is too small or too large, sticking is likely to occur on your metal.
What To Do When The Welding Rod Gets Stuck To The Metal?
When your welding rod becomes stuck to the metal, don’t panic. Just give it a jerk to free it. If the electrode becomes glued to the metal tightly, it will not work.
In that case, you have to turn off the welder immediately and break the rod off the metal. A lot of flux falls off the rod tip when it is yanked.
In order to prevent this from happening, cut the rod to the point where the flux has dissolved and you are good to go again with a pair of pliers.
Taking a look at some stick welding tips for preventing welding rod sticking will help you improve your welding skills.
Just stay boarded.
Tips To Avoid Welding Rod Sticking To The Metal
Let’s talk about how to prevent this from happening now that we’ve discussed the reasons why it keeps happening.
1. Choose The Correct Current Settings
A different type of electrode rod works at a different amperage value, so make sure you use the correct one. For example, 6010, 6011, 6012 and 6013 can be used at low current values.
When starting an arc with 7018 and 7024 rods, high amperage values are required. Detailed explanation of optimum DC current ranges for electrodes of different types and thicknesses can be found in the following stick welding amperage chart.
There is also a correlation between the electrode thickness and the amperage value. If the electrode is thick, it needs a higher current to melt.
Therefore, the ideal amperage settings should be determined by the electrode type and the weld style.
To make sure the rod doesn’t stick to metal, you can increase the current slightly above the range when your circuit’s resistance is a bit high.
Keep in mind that when the electrode tip glows, the current has gone too high. Therefore, you should refer to the ampere range for the rod you’re using from the manufacturer.
One of the great tools I saw on Millers’ website the other day is the Stick welding calculator. This tool determines the parameters automatically after you provide the material and the rod type.
2. Keep The Electrode And Surface Clean While Using The Correct Rod Size
Using poor quality electrodes will cause the electrodes to become more sticky. Make sure that your electrodes are not rusted or degraded.
If the flux easily falls off the rod, the quality of the electrode is poor. Avoid using these electrodes.
You must determine what size electrode you need to use according to the nature of the weld since larger rods give the highest deposit rate.
During stick welding, it’s important not to leave any debris on the metal surface, such as rust, moisture, oil, or any other type of impurity. This will prevent any unexpected problems later on.
3. Try To Keep A Good Ground Connection
An increase in the total resistance of your circuit may occur if the base metal does not connect to the ground well. A high resistance will result in a low Open Circuit Voltage which will make it difficult to strike an arc.
Make sure that you have a strong ground connection. Check for any cracks in the ground wire. If the terminal connections become too rusted, remove them and replace them.
It is important to keep in mind that, depending on the application for which you’re using the stick welding leads, you also have to make sure that you connect them all properly.
I have written an article on this topic in which you can learn more about this.
4. Follow the correct arc striking technique
If you strike an arc, you are more likely to have electrode sticking issues. It is necessary to practice arc striking for weeks or months before you can master it.
As we discussed earlier, there are two methods to strike an arc, namely the dragging method and the tapping method. These are the two methods that are most commonly used for arc striking.
5. Use an appropriate arc Length
In order to maintain a stable arc, it is important to keep an appropriate distance between the rod tip and the base metal after maintaining a stable arc.
Make sure that the distance is kept as small as possible, but do not touch the metal. It is also important to not increase the arc length too much, as it will result in the metal splattering all over the place if you do.
It is generally recommended that one never exceeds the length of an arc that is greater than the diameter of the electrode’s metal core as a general rule of thumb.
6. Keep The Angle And The Travel Speed At The Appropriate Level
The basic welding positions should be familiar by now. You will want to make sure that you are in a comfortable position in order to keep the weld consistent until the very end.
By placing your left elbow on the workbench, you can stabilize your electrode while maintaining your travel speed and angle.
For instance: Keep the stinger (welding rod holder) in your right arm and rest it on the workbench to steady it.
To get a quality weld finish, try to maintain a balance between traveling speed and penetration speed.
If you increase traveling speed, you will reduce penetration, and if you slow travelling speed, you will provide shallow deep penetrations.
7. Choose A Suitable Electrode
It is not easy to handle thick electrodes and they tend to stick more easily. As you gain more experience, you can advance to thick electrodes, such as E7018 and E7024, as you earn more experience.
8. Store Welding Rods At A Dry Place
It is not necessary to worry much about storing E6013 or E6011 when you are just using them. It is safe to store electrodes with a last two digit of 10,11,12, or 13 in a dry case at room temperature, such as E6013, E6012.
In the case of E7018 and E7024 rods, you must take extra care to maintain their quality. They should be stored in dry ovens with temperatures between 200°F and 400°F.
How To Tell If My Rod Is Sticking?
Electrodes sometimes stick to metal before they actually do. Here are a few signs:
Lower quality welds – Too long an arc length results in electrodes getting stuck, losing heat and resulting in poor weld quality.
Spitting and sputtering – In most cases, electrodes become stuck when the welding speed is too slow or when moisture is high in the welding area. In addition, electrodes often become stuck when the slag protecting gas (SSP) is used too much.
Premature ignition – Inflammation caused by spattering occurs when metal particles fly out of the tip. This causes small pieces of base metal that haven’t molten yet to be prematurely ignited.
Lack of penetration – The electrode may stick if there is insufficient fluidity or excessive amperage for given thickness. If your electrode is being used at too high an amperage, your electrode will stick.
Electrode getting stuck to workpiece – A welder often suffers from this problem if he or she does not wear gloves, or if moisture accumulates on the electrode and subsequently transfers to the metal, as happens when welding without gloves.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can Stick Welding Be Problematic?
Stick welding techniques have three main issues:
1) Electrodes on sticks do not eject.
2) The electrodes on the stick do not extend properly.
3) Spatter or splatter that is excessive.
When Working Around An Arc Welder, What Precautions Should Be Taken?
The following precautions should be taken when working around an arc welder:
1) Fire hazards.
2) Eye damage.
4) Injuries from splatter or sparks caused by electric arcs between electrode and workpiece.
5) Third-degree burns.
What is the maximum current that a stick electrode can handle?
There are electrodes that work on both AC and DC currents, such as the E6010 and E7018.
THE TEAM THAT WORKED ON THIS REVIEW
My name is Andrew Miller and I am an expert welder with over 10 years of experience in the field. I have a passion for welding and have dedicated my career to mastering the craft.
In my current role, I am responsible for testing welding products such as welding helmets, MIG and TIG welders, and welding gloves, and writing reviews about them to help clients make informed decisions.
I also provide informative and helpful tips and advice about welding techniques, such as shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) and gas metal arc welding (GMAW), on my website.
With my extensive knowledge and expertise, I am able to provide valuable insights and recommendations to those looking for high-quality welding equipment and techniques.