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Welding machines, including multi-process ones, are often used in tough situations, such as construction, automotive, farming, and fabrication. That’s why most people who use them think these machines can handle getting beaten up without upkeep. If you think your multi-process welder doesn’t need maintenance because it’s supposed to be durable, you’re mistaken.
Multi-process welders, whether you bought them for a few hundred dollars or over a thousand dollars, are quite an investment. That’s some hard-earned money you put out there for a hobby or a business. In any case, it makes sense to spend money and effort in keeping these machines in good shape, unless you have enough money to burn for another unit.
The thing about welding machines that can do MIG, TIG, stick, and flux core is there are more ways for them to break down than a regular MIG or TIG machine. When an MTS machine breaks down, all tasks that depend on it are put on hold until it’s fixed or until you buy a new one. If your small fabrication shop has only one unit, you have more reasons to keep that lone guy in shape.
Make Sure You Have The Right Power Outlet
While many welding machines are dual voltage, some are not. You run into issues when you plug your machine into a power outlet with the wrong voltage. This is true for any type of device. If you have a welder that’s supposed to operate at 220v and you plug into a 110V outlet, it will not work properly, if it will work at all. On the other hand, plugging a 110V machine to a 220V outlet can damage it. Although this is a no-brainer for many welders, accidents have happened because people forget or disregard things.
Check The Ground Clamp
Ground clamps are notorious for causing hidden problems in fabrication shops. A lot of welders don’t suspect a faulty ground clamp for their faulty welds. Bad ground connection creates a drop in your welding voltage output, hence reducing your welding performance. The initial response to this is to crank up the amperage to compensate for the loss of welding capacity. The real problem isn’t addressed.
The first thing to check is the cable lug. Loose cable lugs cause current leaks that reduce the amount of current that goes through the work piece. The clamp body can also be worn out over time. A broken jaw can also restrict current flow. Basically, if there’s something wrong in your ground clamp, your weld will suffer.
Note that poor grounding causes overheating of the components, hence restricting the current flow further, which in turn leads to more overheating. This is a dangerous negative feedback loop. So if your ground clamp is overheating, it’s time to check what’s wrong with it, fix damaged or worn parts, or replace the whole clamp altogether.
Clean Your Equipment
Welding machines accumulate dust and dirt over time. You’ll be surprised to see how much dirt has been inside your equipment and coating the internal parts, reducing the efficiency of the device and causing it to overheat prematurely. A few times a year, you’ll have to remove the covers, inspect internal components, and get rid of the dust buildup. Use dry air flow when cleaning.
Do not spray water or any cleaning solution to the internal parts!
Metal dust can also accumulate on the surface of your equipment right after you finish working. You will have to blow off all that dust.
Needless to say, dust may be just one of the problems plaguing your multi-process welder.
Inspect Your Equipment And It’s Components
Parts of your welding machine wear out over time. That’s one thing you should expect. If the machine has been breaking down or performing poorly and you can’t figure out what’s wrong with it, call a technician. A qualified technician may see problems that may reduce the lifespan of your equipment and save you money down the road.
If you must inspect your machine yourself, be sure to unplug it before tearing it apart. Parts prone to wear are the sheath, torch nozzles, and gas hose. These peripheral items need regular checking. Hence, while you don’t need to check them every day, you do need to inspect them once every few months to see signs of deterioration.
With an MTS machine, you have to pay attention to the components for each function. For instance, you need to inspect the wire drive rolls, which can catch dust. Also, check that the wire spool nut is tight enough to keep the wire from disentangling. For the stick welding component, see that the electrode holder remains fully insulated.
Now, the cables are not to be neglected, as they present fire and electrocution hazards. Make sure the cables are intact. Cables with severely worn insulation should be replaced (1).
Maintaining a multi-process welder seems a little more daunting than maintaining a dedicated MIG or TIG welder. That’s expected of a multi-purpose machine, which has more components crammed into a box.
Then again, if you want to make the most of your investment, maintenance is part of the long-term game. Besides, it’s not donkey work, especially considering you’re working to keep the machine efficient and to keep yourself safe as well.
Most maintenance tasks, such as cleaning and inspecting the machine and its components, require minimal effort and time. Sometimes, however, you need to call a professional to do some repair or troubleshooting.
If you’re still looking for that new multi-process welder, read our article on the Best Multi-Process Welder.