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Taking care of the welding machine is a vital step that all welders must take, whether they’re doing it professionally or as a hobby. As you’ll see in this welding machine maintenance checklist, proper upkeep is something you shouldn’t take lightly. These machines contain many components that all require a special amount of care and protection to work properly. By sticking to this checklist below, you can complete your next weld, as well as each weld after that safely and successfully.
Even though we’re going to dive into specific maintenance protocols below, you should always start by reading the welding machine’s manual. This owner’s manual will provide you with the technical specifications and maintenance procedures for your welding machine, which can vary between individual units. Furthermore, before beginning any maintenance tasks; turn off the welding machine and unplug it from whatever power source you have it securely connected to.
Welding guns and torches can become damaged or contaminated over time. This is why welders must regularly inspect these tools for particle buildup inside, as well as any connections that may be loose or otherwise damaged. If you choose not to address these issues, you won’t be able to maintain a secure arc, which will ultimately lead to poor quality welds. The best way for preventing damage to welding guns and torches is with proper handling and storage. If you’re neglectful with either of those principles, your welding guns and torches can begin accruing damage quicker than normal.
Frequently inspect all cables to ensure they aren’t loose, frayed, punctured, or compromised in any other way. Cables can obtain damage by being regularly stepped on, improperly wrapped around an object, or recklessly stored when not in use. If you see a damaged cable, immediately replace it with a new one. You should also exercise the same level of care toward ground leads, which can sustain similar damage over time. Replacing worn or broken ground leads will help you maintain an effective welding machine, as well as a safe work environment. Electric shocks are a common welding hazard, but proper grounding will immensely minimize the risk of such injuries.
Like the cables and ground leads mentioned above, electrode holders can accrue damage over time. Regularly inspect electrode holders for cracks and wear-and-tear, replacing them when necessary.
Furthermore, ensure that your electrode holder’s insulation, which is a key component of this tool, is intact before each use. Damaged or insufficient amounts of insulation in the electrode holder can cause damage to the holder, as well as injuries to yourself. To prevent damage to the electrode holder insulation, swap out electrodes before allowing them to dissipate all the way down to the holder. However, even if you’re mindful of when to dispose of electrodes, you should still include electrode holders as part of your regular maintenance inspection routine.
Don’t forget to thoroughly inspect your wire feeder as well. If the drive rolls are dirty or damaged, you’ll need to act accordingly. Luckily, if the issue is simply dirty drive rolls, you can easily break out a wire brush and clean them off. You’ll have to remove them from the wire feeder, but the process is fairly simple and straightforward.
That being said, if the drive rolls are severely warped or cracked, you’ll need to replace them entirely. You should also inspect the machine’s liner to ensure no debris or other contaminants accumulate inside. If they do, this can lead to problems with the wire feeders. Don’t forget to inspect the inlet and outlet guides for damage either. Both the inlet and the outlet guide will need to be swiftly replaced if one or both fall victim to wear and tear.
To avoid producing a low-quality weld, you’ll also need to ensure the gas hoses are intact. To make sure your shielding gas is reaching its destination properly, regularly inspect gas hoses for any cracks, punctures, wear and tear, and any other signs of leakage. Additionally, check your welding machine’s gas hoses for any loose connections before completing the inspection.
Welding machine engines require quite a few types of maintenance. First, you should look at the fuel levels. If the engine oil requires changing, this is something else you'll obviously need to do before your next weld.
Aside from fluid levels, don't forget to look at the oil, fuel, and air filters and determine whether they need to be promptly replaced. Some maintenance tasks can vary from engine to engine, so be sure to check your owner's manual. When in doubt, always look to the owner's manual for guidance.
Although this is low down on the checklist, vacuuming your welding machine is one of the most vital tasks for ensuring the machine works properly. Over the course of multiple welds, dirt can work its way into the welding machine. Simply use a vacuum or alternative source of dry air to blow the dirt out of the welding machine, the frequency of which depends on how often you weld. Monitor dirt accumulation in your welding machine and remove it when necessary, whether it’s weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly.
Now that you have a better understanding of standard welding machine maintenance practices, you're ready to put together a comprehensive schedule. Researching your specific machine's maintenance needs and typing them all up in a clean, concise document will help you keep track of what needs to be thoroughly inspected and when to do it. Some welding machine components need to be thoroughly inspected and cleaned during each weld, while others can last a bit longer—all of this will be fully laid out in your owner's manual. Since these varying timeframes can be confusing, a dedicated schedule is a must-have for all welders, especially beginners.
Abiding by this welding machine maintenance checklist will help hobbyists and professionals alike avoid sustaining injuries, producing low-quality welds, and wearing out machine components too quickly. At Welding For Less, we can help you find an electric welding machine with ease and affordability. With the right machine by your side and the right knowledge in your mind, your welding machine will remain intact for as long as it should.