Fume extractors when welding should be your best friends!
Using a suitable fume extractor for a welding job that you are doing could be more important than you realize.
The old addage that you will hardly ever see an “old welder” need not neccessarily be true today. It all depends on your health and safety standards.
In years gone by, the welders were probably exposed to all kinds of dangerous fumes on a daily basis and as such, they didn’t tend to reach an old age. They usually died from either some form of respiriatory disease or a lung cancer long before they reached old age. Of course the weld materials were slightly different years ago but with the advent of all the new super alloys and chromium steels around today, it’s probably fair to say that there is more danger now than there was in the early days of welding.
I will always use a fume extractor if there is one available when welding and i am working inside a building.
The reasons are many:-
Firstly it’s better for your health and the people around you if you can use one.
Secondly, you won’t get people coming around the corner asking if there is something burning or saying “What’s that awful smell”.
Thirdly, you will probably prevent the smoke detectors setting off the fire alarms and getting all the work force outside in the car park. Trust me on this one. The management are not too happy with you if their shift is all outside and the deadline for picking orders is slipping by.
There are many types of fume extractor around starting from the small vacuum sized ones that have a flexible hose attached to them. Then there are the larger versions of this that are about 4 feet long with wheels and have a flexible “stay put” kind of hose about 5″ in diameter and large paper filters inside them. I always think this kind look like the K9 character from Dr Who.
Then there are the wall mounted ones that have similar “stay put” style hoses but the fan and the duct are wall mounted and they extract to the outside usually.
There’s also various work benches that house a vacuum underneath and the back of the bench has slats so that there is a negative pressure causing the welding fumes to move away from the operator and down into the filters below. There are usually intricate duct pathways and traps to prevent the hot sparks setting fire to the paper filters.
Lastly you can get the fume extractor built into the hose of a mig torch but I haven’t used one of these so I can’t say what they are like.
So you can see there are loads of designs around.
When you are thinking of choosing one, bear in mind the type of job you are going to be doing and make sure you get the right kind. Plasma cutting Aluminium for instance, will cause clouds of dangerous fumes to envelope your head with white fluff whereas tig welding a bit of mild steel tube with no paint on it will hardly show any fumes. Ask you dealer to explain which type you should use and look after yourself.
Who knows? You might end up living to be a hundred years old.