5 Causes Of Contact Tip Burnback & How to Solve Them

contact tip burnback

The wire is one MIG gun component that can make or break a successful weld. A good, steady wire feed increases your ability to maintain consistently good welds.

But what if your MIG wire burns back to the tip, causing burnback and sputtering your work to a quick halt?

What is Burnback?

This common issue happens because of the MIG wire burning back to your tip. This often happens when your wire arcs at the contact tip and welds itself inside the tip.

Burnback is solely a MIG issue because it only happens when the wire is continuously fed through a small contact tip hole.

5 Possible Sources of Contact Tip Burnback

Here are 5 ways to find the source of your contact tip burnback, fix it, and get back to your weld.

1. Wire-Feed Speed

Finding the right wire-feed speed for your gun can mean the difference between a smooth weld and one plagued with problems. In fact, a feed that’s too slow is one of the most common causes of burnback.

When your arc melts your wire faster than it comes out of your gun it can not go anywhere and therefore will travel back into the contact tip.  Double-check your machine’s parameters, and up your feed speed if necessary.

mig wire birdnest, contact tipburnback

2. Erratic Wire Feeding

There are a number of reasons your wire feed might be stop-and-go. The wire may have carved a groove in the tip – or maybe even welded right to the tip itself.

Another reason for erratic wire feeding is that the filler wire was not tensioned correctly. On the other hand, you may have added too much tension leading to the wire to struggle to feed and become stuck.

If your parameters are correct, remove the nozzle and check your contact tip. The liner could also be a trouble spot. Look for buildup, a well-cut trim, and correct sizing.

RELATED: Bird Nesting Causes and Fixes

3. Improper Tip Stick-Out / Recess

A tip that’s too long (or too short) can also be a source of problems. Check the length of the tip vs. the nozzle.

A good general rule to remember is the higher the current, the more the tip should be recessed. Use a longer wire stick-out to keep the tip away from the heat of the arc.


contact tip burnback

4. Improper Electrode Stick-Out

Check the distance between your torch and your metal, and make sure you’re not too close. Keep a distance of at least a half-inch from the surface.

Crowding your work is one of the most common causes of contact tip burnback, and one of the easiest to correct.

RELATED: Best MIG Anti-Spatters For Your Application

5. Faulty Ground

A less-than-perfect ground is another common cause of burnback. If your clamps lose contact, even for a second, you’ll lose voltage but the wire will keep feeding.

Always attach your grounding clamps to your work instead of the table.

Get the Right Parts from American Torch Tip

While there are always operational issues that can cause burnback, with the right equipment your chances are much lower. High-quality, durable contact tips can help reduce your chances of burnback and therefore decreases downtime.

At American Torch Tip we work hard to create high-quality MIG guns and consumables with welders and their needs in mind.

For more tips to reduce contact tip burnback read our article, What to Check When Your Wire is Not Feeding.

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