All trade professionals rely on their tools to make a living. Like any piece of equipment, your MIG welder requires regular preventative maintenance to maintain optimal performance. Below are some tips to keep your equipment in tip-top shape.
10. Keep It Covered When Not In Use
Using a cover is one of the most straightforward steps you can take to maintain your MIG welder and often one of the most overlooked. In most fabrication environments, dust, grime, and metallic particles settle and adhere to almost every surface. Just as these can make you sick, they can seriously impair the proper function of your machine.
Dust buildup on the wire spool may be fed into the liner, causing wire feeding issues. Metallic particles can find their way onto sensitive circuitry and cause expensive and dangerous shorts. Grime may obscure small problems such as a cracked wire guide, often leading to wire feeding issues. To avoid these scenarios, simply cover your machine when you’re not using it. Many machines have optional fitted covers, but a common drop cloth will suffice.
9. Turn Off The Gas and Purge Your System
Purging is a good habit to get into whenever you shut down your machine for the day. Turning off your gas bottle and purging the shielding gas from your machine and MIG gun will extend the life of hoses, fittings, valves, regulators, and solenoids and prevent the loss of costly gas if a leak happens to develop while you are away.
First, turn off the tank valve. Then, with the MIG gun pointed away from you, depress the trigger until the regulator output gauge drops to zero. Your MIG gun will feed a few inches of wire during this time, which you can simply snip off. If you wish to avoid this, relieve the tension on the drive roll prior to depressing the trigger on the MIG gun.
8. Hang It Up!
When you finish working for the day, coil your MIG gun loosely and hang it up off the floor. Not only is this a good general practice for keeping your work area clean, but it will also prevent your MIG gun from becoming damaged when not in use and keep the liner from becoming kinked from being would too tightly.
7. Inspect The Ground Lead and Clamp
It can be easy to take ground leads and clamps for granted. We tend to assume that it’s doing its job if the clamp is touching the workpiece or table. The truth is that your ground lead and clamp serve a critical function in the welding process, and they need a little attention from time to time when doing MIG welder maintenance.
First, inspect the cable for damage. Then, check the tightness of the connections at the machine and at the clamp. Lastly, ensure that the clamp is clean and the contact surfaces are free of buildup.
6. Inspect The Cables
Cable checks are just as crucial for safety as it is for the proper function of your equipment. First, unplug your machine. Then start at the back and inspect the power cord for cuts, burn marks, cracks, and any other damage. Ensure that the plug is installed correctly and fits tightly into the socket.
Then, inspect the MIG gun cable. Look for damage. Ensure the strain relief springs are properly attached. Check to make sure that the power pin and control plug connections are secure. Pay special attention to the front end of the cable. Most cable damage occurs within six feet of the handle. If you find any damage, repair the cable or replace the MIG gun.
5. Inspect Gas Hoses and Fittings
Ensure the shielding gas tank is properly secured. Turn on the tank valve and set the output flow rate, then shut off the tank. Inspect the tank and valve for visible damage. Do the same for the hoses, regulators, and fittings.
Wait until at least fifteen minutes have elapsed and check the output gauge. If the reading is lower than initially set at, you have a leak. Fill a spray bottle with soapy water and begin spraying your fittings and hoses. You should see bubbles where the leak exists.
Follow these steps depending on the scenario:
- If the leak is occurring at a fitting, tighten the fitting.
- If this does not resolve the problem, undo the connection, clean with compressed air, and reconnect.
- If the leak is stemming from the hose, repair or replace the hose.
Although MIG welding shielding gases are inert, they are not free, and leaks will not only cost you money but can lead to weld defects such as porosity.
4. Clean Your Liner
The liner is the hidden hero of your MIG gun. It keeps wire feeding smoothly from the feeder to the contact tip. Because it’s not visible while installing the MIG gun, we tend to forget about it until we experience a wire feeding issue (which always seems to happen at the most inconvenient time).
A little bit of love goes a long way with your liner. Get in the habit of cleaning it out every time you change your wire spool. To do this, first, unplug your machine. Then open the side panel and loosen the power pin retaining screw. Unplug the control plug as needed. Pull the MIG gun away from the machine and clip the wire in front of the drive roll (if you clip it behind the drive roll and the spool is full, it will unwind itself and make a mess).
Remove the consumables from the front of the MIG gun and pull the wire out. Then, using a cloth to seal, blow out the liner using compressed air. Reassemble the MIG gun and reconnect it to the machine, and it’s ready in less than five minutes.
3. Keep Your Machine Clean
Even if you follow the first tip and keep your machine covered when not in use, eventually, debris will find its way inside. When you notice that there is an accumulation on and inside your machine, dust it off. Compressed air and a clean cloth work very well for this task. A clean machine is a happy machine!
2. Inspect Drive Rolls and Check Tension
Drive rolls are durable; you do not need to replace them very often, but that doesn’t mean they are maintenance-free. Another good habit for MIG welder maintenance to get into, is that when changing wire spools is to remove and inspect the drive rolls for corrosion and debris buildup. Remove any metal shavings, debris, or rust with a small wire brush. When reinstalling, ensure that you have aligned the right groove with the wire type and correctly set the tension.
1. Clean or replace consumables
It may seem like common sense, but your consumables take a lot of heat. If they are getting long in the tooth, hit them with a wire brush or reamer, clean the spatter off, apply a coating of anti-spatter, or replace them. Waiting until your consumables fail to replace them can come back to haunt you in the form of weld defects and lost time. The cost of a contact tip is small compared to the cost and hassle of fixing a burnback failure or chasing porosity due to a clogged nozzle.
For Tougher MIG Welder Maintenance, You May Need To Contact The Supplier
Following these ten easy preventative maintenance tips will keep you and your machine productive and yield better quality welds with fewer headaches. For more in-depth maintenance, consult your machine’s operator manual or your local welding equipment supplier.