MIG welding is an extremely easy process once you know how to do it properly. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon for new MIG welders to struggle with some of the common pitfalls that come with this process. One such problem that many people struggle with is the popping sound during operation. If you are having problems with your MIG welder popping and crackling but no sparks, you’re not alone. This can be very frustrating, especially if it happens frequently – and more often than not, there’s a simple explanation for it! However, read on to discover why your MIG welder is popping and what you can do about it.
Why is My MIG Welder Popping?
It’s possible that your MIG welder is popping because of a lack of shielding gas. Mig welders use a shielding gas to protect the weld from the surrounding environment. If the shielding gas isn’t strong enough, it can cause the weld to pop. You can test the strength of your shielding gas by performing a light penetration test. To do this, weld a small piece of metal and then use a sharp object to make a light scratch across the surface of the weld. If the scratch disappears when you wipe it off, then your shielding gas is working properly. If the scratch remains, then your shielding gas needs to be stronger.
What is a Popping Sound During MIG Welding?
1. Your MIG welder is not properly adjusted.
As with most welding processes, it is important to understand the basics before you start. The first thing to check is the gas flow, as this is the main culprit behind the popping and cracking. Most MIG welders come with a gas regulator that allows you to adjust the flow of gas into your machine. If your machine has a choke on it (which it should if you’ve bought a new one), it’s important that this is set correctly. You should be able to see plenty of smoke coming out of the exhaust and no visible flame coming out of the tip – this means that your welder is getting enough air and there’s no need for adjustments at this stage. If you can see both, there’s more work to be done!
2. Excessively high amperage settings are being used.
This one tends to go hand in hand with point 1 – the more power you’re using, the more likely you are to see popping, crackling, and sparks. If you’re not sure how much power your machine is currently using, you can take a look at the dials on the front of your welder and gauge it by eye. If there are no dials on the front of your machine, simply count how many amps you think it’s using and multiply that by 1.25 (if your MIG welder has an amperage setting like this:
8-10 Amps = 1.25 Amps x 1.25 = 2.5 Amps)
3. The flame is not being properly adjusted or focused enough.
If you have a MIG welding torch with a flame adjustment control, this is where that comes in handy! Set it to around halfway through its range so that you can start seeing some blue flames coming out of the tip – this should be enough to get your workpiece up to temperature. If you’re unsure how to adjust the flame, check out our MIG welding torch tips.
4. The electrode tips are not properly aligned with the weld zone.
This is one of the most common causes of popping and cracking during MIG welding! Check that your electrode tips are properly aligned with your weld zone – if they’re not, they will be protruding out into the workpiece and won’t be able to make contact with the metal. This can cause a short circuit and pop/crackle when you touch your welder’s trigger or handle. To check for misaligned tips, simply look at them under a bright light – if they aren’t perfectly straight, you may need to sharpen them up before you can use them again!
5. The weld zone is too large.
This one can be tricky to identify, but if you’re welding a thick piece of metal, you may need to make adjustments to the size of the weld zone – this is particularly true if you’re using a MIG torch with a welder with an internal arc. To check this, simply take your tip and try to line up it with the back of your workpiece.
6. The electrode tips are not properly aligned with the torch axis.
This is another common cause of popping and cracking during MIG welding! Check that your electrode tips are properly aligned with the torch axis – if they’re not, they will be protruding out into the workpiece and won’t be able to make contact with the metal. This can cause a short circuit and pop/crackle when you touch your welder’s trigger or handle. To check for misaligned tips, simply look at them under a bright light – if they aren’t perfectly straight, you may need to sharpen them up before you can use them again!
What Causes a MIG Welder to Pop?
- MIG welding is a process of arc welding. It works through the use of an electrical arc, which is the same as lighting a match and touching it on a piece of paper. The heat from the match warms the paper and starts to burn it – this is called ignition. The same thing happens in MIG welding: an electric current heats up metal, which creates an arc between the electrode and the piece of metal you are trying to weld.
- Another common cause of popping can be related to the wire size. When you are using smaller diameter wires, they tend to have more resistance than larger ones, thus shortening their lifespan as they get worn down by friction from use and overheating during operation.
- Another cause of popping can be related to your welder’s settings on its controls (this will be covered later in this article). If you are not careful about how you set your welder’s voltage levels or amperage output, you could end up with a welder that will pop more frequently.
- Another cause of popping can be related to the type of wire you are using on your MIG welder. If you are using thin gauge wires, they can create a lot of resistance and heat, thus causing the welding process to take longer – which results in an increased chance of your MIG welder popping.
How to Fix a Popping MIG Welder?
1. Dirty Gas Tubes
The most common reason for this problem is a dirty gas tube. This can easily be addressed by thoroughly cleaning and in particular, the inside of the gas tube. The easiest way to do this is to place the nozzle of your MIG welder in a container of soapy water. Turn on the MIG welder and allow it to run for a few minutes. Leave it there until it stops sparking – then turn it off and carefully remove it from the water. Blow-dry with compressed air and allow it to fully dry before using it again. If you don’t have access to compressed air, then you may use an old toothbrush or even a pipe cleaner dipped in soapy water, but be careful not to touch any part of the gas tube with your finger due to possible contamination!
2. Dirty Spark Plug
Another common cause of MIG sputtering is that your spark plug is dirty, which means that there are particles present inside that are preventing the proper function of your MIG welder. This is a simple fix, however, it may require a trip to your local auto parts store for an inexpensive replacement.
3. Dirty Capacitors
The capacitors in your MIG welder are what provides the energy to the electrodes when you are welding. If you have any dirt or debris in these capacitors, it can cause them to overheat and eventually burn out – causing your MIG welder to pop! Cleaning these on a regular basis is essential for the health of your MIG welder, so make sure that you do this regularly. There are different ways of cleaning them depending on their age, but normally they can be cleaned by simply blowing compressed air through them or tapping them with a screwdriver. Make sure that you don’t use anything that may scratch the surface of the capacitors as this will cause an increase in resistance which will ultimately lead to overheating and possibly an explosion.
4. Dirty Filament
The filament that is used in your MIG welder is what causes the arc between the electrode and the workpiece. If you have any debris or dust on this filament, it can cause a short circuit which may result in an explosion. This is more common than you think – and most commonly happens when you are cleaning your MIG welder after welding. The best way to clean your filament is to blow compressed air through it, then wipe it with a rag to remove any excess dust and debris from around the weld area. Keep in mind that the filaments are very delicate and may easily be damaged if scraped or pinched too hard. It’s always advisable to wear gloves when handling these parts so that you do not damage them further!
If you are having problems with your MIG welder popping and crackling but no sparks, there are a few things that you can do to fix this. It may be as simple as adjusting your welding technique or changing the type of wire that you are using. It is important to remember that this is a skill that requires practice and patience, so don’t get discouraged if you are experiencing problems with your MIG welder.