MIG welding is a versatile welding method with tons of advantages, but it can face issues from time to time.
One such issue that often bothers beginners is the popping sound. If you have just started to learn it, then you might be wondering “Why is my MIG welder popping?”
You were right to notice it as a problem because if left ignored it can lead to worse outcomes.
In this article, I will be discussing the reasons for this sound as well as preventive measures and possible solutions.
So, without any further ado, let’s get right to it.
Reasons for Popping Sounds in MIG Welder
You won’t hear a popping sound when your MIG welder is functioning properly. So, there must be something wrong if you are hearing it.
Visually, you will see that you are getting uglier and more inconsistent welds when you hear the popping sound.
Let’s dive into the possible reasons for this issue.
One of the common reasons why this happens is related to material thickness. The thickness of the metal sheet you are welding can cause the welder to produce this sound.
You must know that when you are welding a thicker metal sheet, you need to increase the power and reduce the welding gun travel speed to get proper penetration and fusion.
So, with higher metal thickness, you will be forced to slow down which can result in this popping sound.
The sound will be basically from the wire melting back up the electrode on the contact tip.
Wrong Feed Wire Speed
Now, regardless of material thickness, the most blamed issue for the popping sound is the wire feed speed.
The wire feed speed of your MIG welder is either too high or too low, which is resulting in this issue.
If the wire feed speed is too high, it means that the wire is not being properly melted and enjoined in the weld pool but rather breaking off and producing a non-consistent popping sound.
If the wire feed speed is too low, then the wire is over-melting. It is melting back up the contact point, which will cause increased spatter and also loss of electrical contact. The continuous loss and regain of this contact will generate the popping sound.
You can also identify these issues by looking at the weld bead. With high speed, you will see broken pieces of un-melted wire in the beads while with low speed you will get inconsistent bead shape and excessive spatter.
Wrong Wire Type
This is not common, but it still happens. Sometimes beginners can accidentally use the wrong wire type as an electrode and that can cause a lot of problems including a popping sound.
If you accidentally use a flux core wire with a MIG welder that is also using shielding gas, then there will be double gas input which will lead to this issue.
On the other hand, if you are using electrode wire from one metal to weld a workpiece of a different metal nature, it will also lead to a popping sound.
Miscalculated Wire Diameter
I must tell you, every issue relates back to the wire feed speed, but it is important to look at all of them separately.
The diameter of the wire electrode is also significant and contributes to this popping issue.
With a thinner wire electrode, you need to move much faster to prevent the wire from melting away and vice versa.
If you are using a wire that is too thin in diameter for MIG welding a thicker piece of metal, it will lead to power penetration. You might try to increase the penetration by ramping up the amperage, but the thin wire can’t handle it and will start popping.
Similarly, if you are using a thicker wire to weld a thin sheet of metal, you will also face penetration issues as the wire will get melted without fully melting the base metal, which will also lead to a popping sound.
A kink, snag, or damage in the feeding mechanism can cause various problems in the MIG welder. If not solved timely, these problems can lead to bigger issues, such as wire tangling.
When you face these issues, it will cause inconsistency in your wire feed speed which may produce a popping sound.
A tangle in the spool is not something to be taken lightly as it can also lead to various severe problems for the MIG welder.
Misadjusted Welding Parameters
Miscalculations while setting the welding parameters can also become one of the root causes of this problem.
If you have incorrectly adjusted the amperage or voltage too low, it will lead to a heat management issue and again that issue will allow for a cold weld.
The cold weld means the electric input fails to fully melt the welding wire and it breaks into the weld pool which causes the popping sound.
Similarly, if you have set it too high, the wire electrode will melt up faster than the workpiece leading to poor penetration. Once the wire electrode melts to the contact point, you will start hearing the popping sound.
Absence of Shielding Gas
The absence of shielding gas is a massive problem that will not only ruin the welds but can also cause problems in the welding machine itself.
Once your shielding gas gets low, the quality of the welds will start going down. As the shielding gas depletes, the problem will get worse, and you will start hearing the popping sound.
Remember, you cannot MIG weld without shielding gas. Gas is an important part of the process.
Damaged Welding Gun
If you are using a welding gun that is too old, then probably the issue is occurring because your welding gun speed set on the machine is not accurate.
When you have been using the welding gun for too long, the wheels in the wire feeder that let the wire out can wear out which can lead to wire slippage.
Hence, you will have inconsistent wire feed speed which leads to popping sound and other issues.
Tension Adjustment Issues
Another problem that can lead to this sound is the misadjustment of the tension mechanism inside the welding machine.
Even if you have a brand-new welding gun, if you haven’t set the tension right on the welding gun or inside the welding machine, it can lead to wire slippage.
When the wire is slipping, the wire feed speed is not accurate which can lead to the popping sound.
On the other hand, if you set the screw too tight, it will hold onto the wire and won’t let it out regardless of the wire feed speed settings.
So, the wire may deform and move slowly which can also lead to this issue.
Power Supply Issues
You might be surprised but yes it happens. Sometimes, the power supply you are using for your welder is faulty and does not provide enough amperage for the welder to function normally.
In such cases, even if you have got the welding parameters right in settings, you will still get issues in welding including the popping sound.
It’s a rare possibility but yes it can happen.
Troubleshooting MIG Welder Popping: How to Stop It?
The popping sound is bad and needs to be sorted out. If you notice it in your welding process, you must get rid of it at the earliest.
Here are some of the important precautions and solutions you can try to fix the issue.
The user manual is there for a reason. Always go with the manufacturer’s recommended settings and instructions to ensure nothing goes wrong.
Each MIG welder model is unique and might need some specific adjustments to ensure optimal welding results.
Going with these settings will give you satisfaction that you have done everything right and the problem must be on some other end.
Fine-Tuning Your Settings
Before you start the welding process, you must fine-tune your settings to ensure that the ones you have on the welder are accurate.
Never start directly on the dedicated workpiece. Start with a piece of scrap metal of the same nature and once you get the settings accurate, move to the workpiece.
Practicing on the scrap piece allows you to test the welding settings and do the necessary recalibration, saving your precious workpiece from any weld bead problems.
Selecting Right Amperage
As we discussed above, the popping problem generally arises from these settings. So, adjusting the welding parameters accurately will help you avoid those problematic sounds.
You can go with the manufacturer’s recommendations as I have suggested above, or you can use online charts and tools to get the approximate value. This will be your starting point.
From here, you can fine-tune your way to perfection.
Choosing Correct Wire and Wire Speed
If you buy the welding machine from a reputable brand, you will have a wire size vs metal thickness chart on the access door of the MIG welder.
This allows you to quickly calculate the wire size and speed even when you don’t have the user manual around.
You can use the popping sound as an indicator to fine-tune the wire feed speed and work your way until the popping sound transforms into a constant buzzing sound.
Adjust the Tensioning
After you have inserted the right wire type inside the spool, you must adjust the tension that will allow the wire feeding mechanism to work.
You should adjust it in such a way that it holds the wire and doesn’t let it slip but also you must not make it too tight.
If you feel that the wheels that are holding the wire are damaged or worn out, then you must replace them or get a new welding gun for your MIG welder.
Maintaining Consistent Welding Gun Distance from Workpiece
The distance of the tip of the wire electrode from the weld pool plays a crucial role in the whole welding process.
If the tip is held too far away, the shielding gas will expand too much and result in popping.
If the tip is held too close, the wire electrode might melt and travel back up to the contact point, also leading to a popping sound.
So, you must hold it at an appropriate distance which is half an inch from the weld joint you are welding.
Checking the Contact Tip
If you are still hearing the popping sound, then the only thing still left for inspection is the welding gun itself. Check the contact tip of the gun and ensure that it is in good shape.
The tip should be straight and smooth, and also clean. This means there should not be any globs of metal or burrs around the wire hole.
If you are a beginner, then it is perfectly understandable that you have ruined the welding gun contact tip. It can happen due to all sorts of issues.
The tip might be burned back, plugged with spatter, or have a lot of burned crust.
In this case, if possible, you must clean the contact tip or replace it with a new one.
Yes, you can purchase just the contact tip for your welding gun instead of replacing the whole thing.
Examining the Welding Gun
If the contact tip is not the issue, then you should open the welding gun and inspect it for internal problems.
Check to see if there is a wire tangle or if there was one that has damaged the welding gun from the inside.
Examine to check if the wire is passing through the wheels smoothly. If you notice any problems, you will have to replace the welding gun.
Examining the Wire Electrode
The wire electrode itself might be causing the problem. From time to time, it can run off the spool, get tangled, and collect debris.
If there is any rust, then you must cut the piece off and make sure that the remaining part runs smoothly through the wire feeder and is properly tensioned.
Inspect the Liner
The liner connects the welding machine with the welding gun. So, it is responsible for protecting the wire as it passes through the rollers, lead, and the welding gun contact point.
The liner might be plugged with dirt or debris and might need cleaning.
So, you will have to properly clean the liner to avoid the wire feed speed problems and prevent the popping sound issue.
Store Your Welding Setup Properly After Use
Most of the above solutions discuss cleaning parts of your machine, welding gun, or spool. Do you know why these problems happen?
They might be happening because you are not storing your welding setup properly. Letting it lay around openly after work can cause all sorts of dust and debris to get in and also the wire spool to start rusting.
So, you must shut down and store your equipment properly if you want to avoid doing all of this cleaning and fixing later on.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes popping when MIG welding?
There can be a number of causes that can lead to this issue, but they always end up being related to the wire feed mechanism. You either have the wire feed speed wrong or another welding parameter inaccurate which relates to wire feed speed.
Why does my MIG welder sputter?
The causes of sputtering are quite similar to that of popping. It might happen because of improper wire feeding or a clogged or worn-out contact tip of the welding gun. You can resolve it using the same issues discussed above.
Why is my MIG welder spitting?
Spitting generally happens because of two reasons. Either the wire feed speed is too high, or the shielding gas coverage is insufficient. So, checking the shielding gas regulator to adjust the flow and adjusting the wire feed speed will resolve the issue.
Why is my MIG welder pulsing?
The pulsing issue can occur by incorrect welding parameters or issues in the wire feeding mechanism. The wire electrode might be breaking without melting completely which can result in this issue.
How do I stop my MIG welding from blowing holes?
If your MIG welder is blowing holes, then you have your welding parameters especially amperage set too high, and your travel speed is too low. Ensure proper joint preparation, use the correct welding technique, and adjust voltage and wire speed.
Why do my welds look like popcorn?
Weld beads can look like popcorn because of problems in the welding process or the welding equipment. This appearance indicates inconsistent wire feeding, improper shielding gas flow, or excessive heat input.
Why are my MIG welds bubbling?
Bubbling is also a result of excessive heat input which creates a larger weld pool or inadequate gas coverage which can lead to the formation of gas pockets and impurities in the weld pool.
Popping sound is a severe issue in MIG welding and can lead to major problems if not resolved timely.
Upon thorough investigation, I figured out one thing. The popping problem is mainly related to the wire feed mechanism.
Each of the problems discussed above leads to problems in the wire feeding, which leads to popping.
I hope that the above guide clarifies the reasons for the popping sound and also the solutions that can help you resolve this problem.
If you still have some concerns left, you can drop them in the comments section below and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Happy Welding!
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