MIG Welders are a glorious thing. Feed it wire and gas and it’ll “glue” all sorts of metal together. The mechanical inner workings of a MIG welder are pretty simple. There’s a drive motor that turns a set of rollers that feeds the wire through your MIG torch and you’re off and welding. What most don’t realize is that a troublesome MIG welder could be just be a maintenance issue and not the welder itself failing. We decided to put our five maintenance tips below you should check periodically. Like any mechanical item your welder needs maintenance to continue to perform its best.
1. MIG Torch Liner/Lead- Inside all MIG torch lead there is a liner that guides the wire to your tip and over time this liner can get worn or develop a buildup of dirt/debris and cause the wire to hangup and slow your wire speed down. One sign of this issue is when you start having problems with the wire melting to the tip of your torch or getting hung up in the torch when trying to weld. Check with your welder manufacturer on the availability of a replacement liner or torch lead. Most offer replacements that can be quickly swapped out and get you welding smoothly again.
2. MIG Torch Tip/Nozzle- The end of your MIG welder torch takes a LOT of abuse. It’s in the business end of the welding process and it will see all of the sparks/debris. Over time the Nozzle and Tip may get spatter and weld debris built up around it. If you’re getting poor gas flow or contamination of your welds check your gas nozzle for partial blockage from welding debris. A lot of times a quick tap of the nozzle on the metal work bench will rattle the build up loose. You can also use MIG Nozzle Gel to keep buildup from even forming.
3. MIG Driver Rollers- The series of drive rollers on your welder are extremely important. They need to be adjusted correctly to feed the wire smoothly and they need to be kept clean for optimum performance. If you’re experiencing sputtering or inconsistent wire feed you may need to take a closer look at your drive rollers. Most MIG welders have knurled drive rollers that help grab the wire and pull it through the MIG torch lead. If the knurled pattern becomes filled with metal particles from contact with the wire it can cause slippage or the drive rollers. We suggest removing the rollers once in a while and a using a small stainless brush and a cleaner such as PRE to remove any buildup on the rollers. Also check your roller tension as you can actually deform the welding wire if the rollers are clamped too tightly causing a hang up in the liner or torch tip. Too loose of tension on the drive rollers will cause them to slip on the wire which can cause the wire to weld itself to the torch tip.
Clean Welding Wire- Welding wire once opened can start to slowly rust if it sits too long; especially in a damp shop. If you don’t weld very often you may want to remove the wire from your machine and store it in a zip lock bag in a climate controlled area so it won’t rust. A rusty MIG spool can cause porous welds and also can hang up in the torch liner causing inconsistent wire feed. If you can see rust on the welding wire it is too late and you should replace the spool.
5. Worn/Damaged Ground Cable- Your ground wire is needed to complete the welding circuit and if it gets damaged or worn out it can give you a poor weld that may take some troubleshooting to figure out. We suggest periodically checking your ground cable to ground clamp connection first. Next make sure you have a good, clean ground connection on your welding project. Often times a partially painted or rusty surface will create poor ground connection and give similar poor results.