Why does a welding rod stick to the base metal? 

AUGUST 04,2021

👋 If you’ve ever tried stick welding, you may wonder if it’s called that because you get stuck all of the time. One of the most common complaints among stick welders is a stuck rod.

When a rod stays stuck too long, it could overheat and no longer be useful for your welding projects. A stuck stick welding rod keeps you from working and could add up to a lot of wasted materials. Here are some stick welding tips for how to handle a stuck rod:


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  • "There are a lot of reasons why your welding rod may stick to the metal but the chances of it happening get reduced a lot if you keep a few things in mind."

"There are a lot of reasons why your welding rod may stick to the metal but the chances of it happening get reduced a lot if you keep a few things in mind."


One of the most common reasons for the rods to stick to the metal is the low amperage or the current value is used. It means that the amperage is enough to melt the tip of the electrode but not sufficient enough to strike an arc. If the flow of the current is not sufficient then the rod will not dissolve properly and therefore, it will stick to the base metal. One of the most common welding instructors’ tips you’ll find both in welding shops and online is to keep your amperage on the upper end of what’s recommended. That means you won’t have a huge margin for error. You need to strike up and get moving before you burn through, create too much spatter, or lose control of your puddle. However, once you’ve got your machine running good and hot so that you can weld efficiently, you’ll find that your rod will stick far less. Running too low an amperage is typically one of the most common reasons for a stuck electrode while stick welding.


Since stick welds produce slag, it is important that you drag the rod. This is because pushing the rod can result in the slag being “trapped” inside of the actual weld. These “slag inclusions” are a serious defect and will result in a failed welding test. 


The other reason is the low or unstable open-circuit voltage. Keep in mind that the melting point of flux is always lower than the base metal. It means that before the base metal even starts melting, the flux is already in a liquid state. If your flux coating is poor, it may fall off the rod and form a molten lump which causes the welding rod to stick to the base metal.


Arc length is nothing but the distance between the tip of the electrode and the surface of base metal. In other words, it is just the length of the electric arc. If you bring the electrode too close to the base metal, it will be glued to the base metal. There are two scenarios, one, where you take the electrode too far from the base metal in which case the arc will disappear. Second, when you bring the rod too close to the base metal in which case the rod will end up sticking to the base metal. That’s why it gets very important to maintain a proper arc length. 

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If the base metal's surface is too oily or rusty, it will cause problem while welding. Even if you manage to sustain an arc, the welding electrode will keep sticking to the base metal at intervals. When the arc is using at rusty base metal, current flow disturbs the quality of amperage, which causes the improper flow of amperes during the welding process. We can explain this by Ohm’s Law according to which: Voltage (V) = Current (A) X Resistance (Ω). In other words, since the voltage is a constant, increase in resistance will cause a proportional decrease in current. 


Have people told you that its important to choose your electrode carefully? Even if you are using the right current and voltage and your base metal is clean, your rod can keep sticking. This can become very frustrating when things keep going wrong and you don’t know why. Incorrect electrode selection might be one of the issues. Welding rods are of various types each with its own applications and benefits. Some rods only work for DC and some work both for DC and AC, If you use a thick rod on thin metal sheets, the rods can keep sticking because of striking issues. For example, Let’s say you are using a 5/64 inch E6013 rod at the right amperage value but still your filler rod keeps sticking to the base metal, try switching to a 1/16”, it might solve the issue. This issue can be a bit tricky to get hang of if you are just starting in the world of welding. As a novice, you face welding rod sticking issues many times and it must be very frustrating for you.


Since stick welding rods are usually 14 inches long, having shaky hands can compromise your weld. These hand movements are magnified when the rod is longer, but they are easier to control as the rod burns down and gets shorter. If you struggle with shaky hands, you can use your non dominant hand to prop the rod further up. This allows you manipulate your puddle better since there is less play in the rod. 


A too-slow travel speed produces a wide, convex bead with shallow penetration that also deposits too much metal. On the other hand, a too-high travel speed creates a shallow weld that produces a narrow and highly crowned bead. Perfecting your travel speed takes time, and it varies depending on the material you are welding.

To sum it all up, make sure that you are choosing the right amperage and the right electrode for the job you have at hand. Also, make sure that the base metal and the rod are clean and don’t have any impurities on them. Keep in mind to check the ground connection of the circuit as well. These tips, along with practice and patience, will get you headed in the right direction to improve your stick welding technique.

Josh J. Gur - CEO

CEO of Sanrico


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