Why Is My MIG Welder Popping And How To Stop It

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Among the many challenges in MIG welding, the wire feed system is a fairly common host of many unexpected problems. One of them is a popping MIG welder that leads to a weak weld with little penetration. You can’t have it. So, you should find out the reason.

A MIG welder pops when wire feeding occurs faster than melting does. It also happens if solid wire is used without any shielding gas. Factors behind this problem include incorrect size, type, and speed of the wire, and adjustments of amperage and voltage.

First off, I’ll provide suggestive descriptions of the problem in question. Then, you’ll get the telltale signs and underlying factors along with the viable approaches to take.

Since one of the identifiable characteristics of popping is the noise we hear, I would like to present you with a brief understanding of the different sounds you might already have noticed.

Why is my mig welder popping

Identifying the Problem by Noise

I’m talking about various sounds because knowing about all of them will help you differentiate one from another and save you confusions.

Mig welder Sounding like Frying up Bacon

If you’ve ever fried yourself some bacon, you can recognize the sound. Your torch sizzles nicely. Some pops can be heard, not very often though. Don’t worry because it doesn’t mean anything wrong.

Actual Popping Sound By The MIG Welder

When you’ll hear popping and snapping frequently, check the wire speed because it is way faster than required. It means the wire keeps coming out quicker than what the metal surface requires and your heat settings are up for.

Mixed Popping & Hissing Sound

Many people avoid using a shielding gas either intentionally or mistakenly. That is when they get to hear so much of hissing and popping.

Only Sound Hissing by The MIG Welder

The wire feed speed, if set to be too low, makes this particular sound which is almost identical to what you hear from a gas leak. So, don’t confuse yourself with the noises coming from too fast and too slow speeds.

MIG welder making Irregular Sound

You get it in case of too long a distance between the contact tip and the end of the electrode that is not melted yet. It won’t be constant. Changes in the pitch or volume are common.

So, you see the answer lies in the second and third point, and the first one is okay. The fourth and fifth points indicate problems too, but are not necessarily linked to popping. Let me fill you in on further details with real-life examples.

Identifying the Problem by Results

A welder may have different experiences regarding the noises being heard, and each of those situations involves a variety of welding outputs which I’m going to focus on now.

Signs That Indicate Proper Settings

You’ll see an almost flat and throughout weld, and the bead will be fairly wide with uniformity. It shouldn’t also protrude too much from the surface of your work piece. Check the back part of your work piece. You should see a nearly flawless outline of the perfect weld penetration that occurred into the metal.

What Happens When the Wire Speed Dialed in Too High?

The two most obvious differences are in the appearance of the weld and the sound during the process. The MIG gun should also make you notice the changes. As the wire is set to come out too fast to hit the surface and melt properly into the work piece, the wire feels like it’s pushing hard back on the gun.

In practice, it does push back, and that is where the “popping” actually comes from. As you move your MIG gun, you’ll only be able to form individual globs. You can’t form any puddle, and this usually results in the absence of the outline of weld penetration. The end output will be no better than a weak weld.

Another Instance of Popping

If someone starts MIG welding absent the shielding gas, I would say it is more of a mistake than a standard practice. There is no way you can avoid hissing and popping in the extreme. Adding to this inconvenience comes the slag and sparks all over your workplace. You leave just one thing (gas), and all other welding preparations will turn into a fiasco.

The weld puddle needs to stay clean well away from contaminants which enter the weld only to weaken it, which is why the role that a shielding gas plays is important. Your hardship to get a perfectly shaped weld goes even further as porosity shows up. Unless you are ready to take your welding job for granted, you won’t allow such imperfections (pores).

Maybe, you didn’t forget about shielding gas, but the above problems could still happen. You might keep wondering how. You either started with too little of that gas or forgot to check the output pressure of the gas tank, which could be set too low. All these checkups matter!

With a layman’s understanding, anyone would try these techniques – optimization of the wire speed settings and the proper use of shielding gas. That is not all, my friend! You still have several things to think about.

Considerable Factors For MIG Welder Popping

The above steps cannot be ruled out, but a few more things will still cause problems unless you get them right. Follow my discussion here.

Metal Thickness and Amperage

The thinner your material is, the more Inches Per Minute (IPM) you can target, and the faster the penetration occurs. You know you can’t get the same IPM or speed of weld penetration for both thin and thick materials. But what does thickness have anything to do with popping?

Some run their tool too slow forgetting the material thickness while others take the faster route. Either way, your MIG gun is going to pop. It might not occur at the very second you started, but it won’t be long before the problem kicks in.

Remember These Two Points:

  • Amperage is determined by the thickness of the metal you choose to weld.
  • Amperage goes hand in hand with the wire speed. If the latter is faster, the former is higher.

Should you weld without popping, amperage is a crucial factor. Incorrect settings may result in the wire burning too hot or cold. How can you adjust this without sweating?

For .001 inch in thickness, you need 1 amp of output. So, you need to set 250 amps for metal that is 1/4 inch or .25 inch. That is the standard rule unless you have very specific recommendations from a seasoned welder. Look at this table to learn the amperage requirements for different material thicknesses.

Thickness (Inch)GaugeAmperage
0.1876187
0.1568156
0.12510125
0.10012100
0.0781478
0.0621662
0.0471847
0.0372037
0.0312231

One of the most overlooked parameters in this regard is the voltage which should also be adjusted properly for the desired effects. In case all of the above numbers seem to not account for your particular welding situation, team efforts can be the answer.

Partner with someone, start welding, and ask the person to set the voltage low until the penetration begins. You can weld again and ask your helper to turn the voltage up until you see an unstable arc. Keep notes of the voltages to figure out the most favorable adjustment. It is time for us to move onto the next sections.

The Type, Diameter, and Condition of the Welding Wire

Not everything about the wire is equally important when it comes to our topic of interest – the popping problem. Speaking of the type, you’ve got either solid or flux core which works effectively for MIG welding enthusiasts but not necessarily at the same speed on different materials.

First, I’m telling you about solid wires. ER70S-6 is your choice while working on mild steel. Let me expand the term a little bit. Here, ER indicates Electric Rod, and 70 represents the weld metal’s tensile strength which is the result of this calculation: 1000 X Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI). You might see three digits as well.

We have two more parts to describe such as S which means Solid Wire and 6 which indicates chemical additives contained in the wire to affect your welding machine’s polarity setting. Check this list for more details on other wires:

Flux-cored wire contains shielding ingredients to protect your weld pool. It means you don’t need to carry a gas tank around anymore. I am afraid your attention might go away from the main topic. So, I won’t go much deep into these two types.

Just know that you should choose flux-cored wires when you need larger diameters and higher amperage than what is possible with solid wires. Well, I think a few more words about the diameter won’t break your patience.

The diameter of a wire affects your choice of material thicknesses. As you want to choose, the typical sizes you’ll find are .023″, .030″, .035″, and .045″. Most DIY professionals as well as fabrication shops can easily work with 0.35-inch wires. Industrial welding workers may need much thicker wires.

Even, you might want to try from the available sizes depending on what your chosen material requires. Now, I think you’ll find the following chart useful.

Table: 1-3 (MIG Solid Wire)

Wire Diameter (Inches)Metal Thickness (Inches)Recommended AmperageRecommended Wire Speed (Inches Per Minute/IPM)
0.230.31, 0.37. 0.5030-90100-400
0.300.31, 0.37. 0.50, 0.63, 0.78, 0.12540-14590-340
0.350.50, 0.63, 0.78, 0.125, 0.188, 0.2550-18080-380

Table: 4-6 (Flux-Cored Wire)

Wire Diameter (Inches)Metal Thickness (Inches)Recommended AmperageRecommended Wire Speed (Inches Per Minute/IPM)
0.300.37. 0.50, 0.63, 0.7840-14590-340
0.350.50, 0.63, 0.78, 0.125, 0.18850-18080-380
0.450.63, 0.78, 0.125, 0.188, 0.2575-25070-270

So, that is pretty much everything I wanted you to make out about this welding problem. I guess you must know one more thing that is associated with popping but still significantly different.

Don’t Consider Weld Spatter and Popping the Same Things

If the molten weld pool gets disturbed as you transfer the wire into your weld, spatter occurs. Here the correlation between settings such as voltage and amperage works, and it is the sole reason why I believe this understanding (spatter) is essential. Whether it is too low voltage or too high amperage, you may undergo this very issue.

Don’t lose hope facing this awkward problem just yet for many professionals cannot also help themselves out of it due to incorrect settings of voltage or wire speed beforehand. On most projects, spatter problems are easy to avoid. You just readjust the voltage or wire speed.

Adjustment of the wire speed is technically the same for the amps. Yes, the relationship is direct. If you haven’t skipped anything from my discussion, you must have remembered the above two points in bold.

Final Words

What I am about to say now may sound a bit harsh, but most beginners fail to make the right choice between adjusting either of the wire speed or the voltage and a combination of both. Professionals count on their experience, and those who just started are to experiment with great care.

Ignoring the wire speed, you may choose to optimize the voltage to allow the wire to be fed into the weld puddle. Sometimes, following a chart provided by the manufacturer of your welder can be useful, but you can’t always expect that to work under all welding circumstances. So, what is my point here?

You should try minor adjustments until the time you know how things go. Avoid employing any extreme settings if you don’t have any fail-safe procedure at your disposal. That is my advice.

What do you think? Have I provided enough details? It’ll be a pleasure to hear from you.

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