Can Welding Wire Go Bad?

Feb. 17, 2023

Welding wire, in general, goes bad after a period of time, but depending on the type of welding wire, there are various things to consider in order to prevent it and what to do with it if it does go bad.


Various welding applications require different welding wires. However, like all things metal, welding wire can go bad if it is not taken care of properly. The first thing to do is to know the different welding processes because each welding process uses certain welding wires and may require varying levels of care.


Keep reading to find out the various welding processes and types of wires, what they are used for, and how to handle those wires when they go bad.

Non Copper Coated Welding Wire

Types of Wires and Whether They Go Bad

The two main wires include:


1) GMAW wire

Yes, GMAW wires can go bad if they do not have the right protection and maintenance.


Generally, GMAW wires require a shielding gas, which is delivered from a pressurized gas tank, to protect the weld from atmospheric contaminants.


Within this category, the two subcategories are solid GMAW wire and composite metal-cored GMAW wire.


In order to decide which wire is required for a GMAW project, the following factors must be considered:


ㆍWhat is the base metal? Compare the base metal to the electrode and match it as closely as possible.

ㆍWhat is the deposited metal made of? The metal that you want to weld to the base metal may require a certain type of GMAW wire.

ㆍWhat deoxidizing agents do you need? They are added to the wires to protect the wires from damage and porosity.


If not, the wires and the welds will be compromised.


Solid GMAW Wires


Both solid and composite GMAW wires have similar performance characteristics and increase the efficiency of the weld. They require little to no cleanup. However, they handle varying levels of damage.


Solid GMAW wires are highly deoxidized. They can only handle light to medium exposure to atmospheric elements before it goes bad. On the other hand, composite GMAW wires fare better due to their metallic components. The metal-cored electrode is able to deoxidize the weld scale more effectively.


The level of deoxidizers needed is determined by the number on the end. In the case of ER70S-6, the number is 6. It has higher levels of silicone and manganese than an ER70S-3. The lower the number, the lower amount of deoxidizing agents needed. Again, the level of deoxidizers needed depends on the type of welding project.


Composite GMAW Wires

Composite GMAW wires have a tubular metal core. Like solid GMAW wire, it procures a slagless weld. Therefore, it requires little to no cleanup.


If there are any contaminants on the base metal, composite GMAW wires are able to deoxidize the scale due to their metal-cored components.


The only cleanup required after the weld is complete is removing silicone deposits from the electrode. There is very little spatter and, therefore, very little to clean up.


2) FCAW wire


FCAW wire is a hollow wire that is filled with flux.


Flux is a purifying agent, made up of a combination of carbonate and silicate materials. Ultimately, it shields the welds from damage by pushing back any atmospheric gases back and away from the metal.


This composition, paired with a shielding gas, allows for an added layer of protection against atmospheric elements.


Another subcategory of FCAW wire is self-shielded, which is exactly as the name implies. It does not require an external shielding gas in order for it to be protected from atmospheric forces that could threaten the integrity of the wire and the weld.


However, since the wire is not solid, this still allows contaminants, such as moisture, to penetrate the wire.


So yes, FCAW wires go bad if it is exposed to moisture for an extended period of time.




ㆍOptimal for thicker metal

ㆍTolerates more than GMAW wire if the base metal is dirty

ㆍIdeal in windy weather conditions

ㆍIt can work more consistently and reliably for a longer period of time than GMAW wires

 ㆍResults are usually very strong welds




ㆍThe flux-cored wire puddles run out too flat and quickly when used for thinner metals

ㆍFlux can burn, leaving discoloration on the weld

ㆍWire is hollow. Builds up moisture on the open end, which can ultimately lead to rust

ㆍIt requires a lot of cleanup at the end since it produces a lot of slags


How does it go bad


There are many ways that wires could go bad, but the main reason is atmospheric contaminants. Over time, the wires are constantly in contact with oxygen. They react to it, causing the wires to rust.


This, in turn, affects the wires' functionality. A rusted wire will not have the same effectiveness when joining metals compared to a normal wire.


Next to oxidation, wires are also affected by moisture. If the temperature allows for moisture, then the wire will rust. As mentioned above, FCAW wires are particularly susceptible to moisture because the core is hollow, which allows water to seep in more easily.


After rust and moisture, in the actual process of welding, there is the possibility of weld slag, weld scale, and weld spatter.


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