Common Problems in Welding Wire and How to Troubleshoot and Resolve Them: An Identification and Problem-Solving Guide


In many industries, it is vital for welding to produce sturdy, dependable joints. For structural integrity and the safety of individuals, welds must be reliable and strong. Transportation is one industry that absolutely relies on quality welds, as its vehicles take people and goods from point A to B. However, no matter what industry relies on a weld, when one does fail to hold, it is essential to figure out why. There might be a number of factors, but one of the common culprits is the welding wire. When the wire is causing the problem, what can you do to solve it? In this article, we will take a deep look at the common problems with wire and discuss their potential fixes.

Frequently Encountered Problems with Welding Wire and How They Can Be Resolved

  • When the wire feeding through the welding gun gets all bunched up—that’s birdnesting. It’s a classic problem—no matter how precise an arc welder you may be—if you can’t get smooth, consistent wire feed, you just can’t get anything done. But the advantages and ease of gas metal arc welding (GMAW) make it a must-try for even the most experienced oxyacetylene, gas tungsten arc (TIG), and shielded metal arc (stick) users.
  • Reasons behind wire feeding problems are often quite simple. For example, they might arise from improperly tensioned drive rolls or worn-out liners. Liners can also cause problems if they are not installed correctly or if they are the wrong size for the wire and gas type. The choice of liner type is also important—using a straight liner for use with an aluminum-surface-cleaning system, for example, can lead to common wire feeding troubles.
  • There are several things you can do to solve this problem. You can adjust the tension on the drive roll so it’s just right, you can install a new wire liner, and you can make sure that your liner isn’t too big or too small for your wire.
  • What is burnback? Burnback occurs when the welding wire is heated more than it should be and then melts back into the contact tip. This can lead to a short circuit, which can damage the tip (and sometimes the gun), and generally makes welding a lot less fun.
  • Why it happens: Our wire is either coming out too slow or too fast for the amperage we have set up. Or maybe our amperage is fine, but our wire speed is way off. What we want is to have the wire coming out of the gun and to hit our workpiece at the right speed so that it will weld in and look good.
  • Possible rephrase: Some solutions to this problem include adjusting the wire feed speed, making sure the contact tip is set at the right distance, and using the appropriate contact tip diameter for the wire you’re using.
  • The presence of minute holes or voids in a weld is what is meant by the term “porosity.” This porosity can seriously impact the integrity and strength of a weld.
  • There are several causes for this problem. One is when the base metal is contaminated or dirty. Another is when there isn’t enough shielding gas flow, or the flow is disrupted by drafts in the welding area. And fourth, of course, is when the wrong wire in terms of its mechanical and chemical properties is used for the material to be joined. Using the wrong wire doesn’t cause porosity directly but rather weakens the joint to the extent that it may have trouble holding up under the load it is expected to bear.
  • There are several ways to address this issue. First and foremost, make sure the base metal is as clean as it can be. Also, be as certain as you can of two things: the path the gas is going to take and that it’s going to move just as nicely as possible. Finally, use the right wire for the base metal.
  • Insufficient melting: This occurs when the weld metal does not fully melt into the base metal. This type of failed fusion produces an obviously weak and unreliable joint, which usually occurs when a filler metal with too high a melting point is used. Inadequate heat can also cause insufficient melting, as can an overly fast travel speed. Combined, these factors can cause the edges of a joint to melt without the weld metal melting into the groove.
  • Reasons why the brazing process may fail are, among others, that in some way, the metal surfaces did not reach a high enough temperature for the filler metal to wet them. Perhaps the torch flame was not close enough or not held on the joint long enough. The oxidation of the base metal (forming oxides on the surface), which brazing does not accommodate, may also be a factor. Another problem might be the porosity of the finished weld. Everything should be clean, such as the filler metal, the base metal, and the joint itself.
  • There are several ways to fix this problem. One obvious solution is to increase the current. Another would be to speed up the travel of the electrode along the metal. You could also try to improve the way you’re holding and moving the torch. When you get right down to it, there are a lot of “tricks of the trade” that you can employ. But still, the fundamental problem here is that you don’t have a good, tight fit between the pieces of metal you’re trying to weld.
  • In welding, the term “undercutting” refers to a groove or notch that occurs at the weld’s toe. The notch appears much like a cut made in the material. The weld itself can even look as if it has been separated in the process. The appearance is not the only factor affected when undercutting takes place. That cut is a location for stress concentrations and weakens the joint configuration.
  • Roots of the Issue: The problem usually starts with a welding operator who gives the imprecise command to weld a joint. This usually occurs because the operator doesn’t have sufficient training to understand the causes of welding distortion or to operate the welding equipment properly. The wrong weld can easily result from any one of the following reasons: Either the operator is using too much heat to make the weld, or not enough; the operator is using the wrong filler metal to make the weld; or the operator is using the wrong welding process altogether.
  • There are a few ways to fix the problem. It could help to simply reduce the power of the welding unit, or slow down the current pace of travel of the hourglass-shaped welding flame. Another possibility is to fine-tune the technique by which operators apply the metal. For instance, it could amount to a procedural issue, where the mixing of aluminum and chromium partly negates the benefits of the stainless steel nature of the welding wire. To minimize this, it would help to use more precise weld procedures, such as a “autogenous” stainless steel process in which a “prosthesis” of added metal isn’t relied on to flesh out the weld.
  • Small metal droplets are thrown out during a welding process. This can lead to a very cluttered workspace and could harm the workpiece if not managed correctly.
  • Reasons for a weak welding joint can be attributed to the wrong welding wire type or using a dirty base metal. Dirty means partially or fully covered by dirt, grease, oil, caulk, or paint, and it’s typically easy to spot and not so hard to fix. However, remember not to clean any part of the base metal with a solvent that contains a bleaching agent, for example, acetone (nail polish remover) or isopropanol (rubbing alcohol). Dirtying the base metal gains a temporary and thin layer of oxides that protect the metal from further oxidation, and this can actually improve the strength and quality of the joint.

General Troubleshooting Tips

Have you checked your working apparatus? Are your welder, wire feeder, and gun in the best condition possible? If not, electrical, mechanical, or gas supply issues could greatly impact the overall success of your welding process. Another related issue lies with the user’s poor or inefficient technique, which can lead to problems with either the welding power source or the wire feeder. But if you’re still facing these issues after taking all these recommendations into account, ask a skilled expert for advice.


Figuring out welding wire problems can appear incredibly tricky. Still, if you know what to look for and have the right outlook, you can resolve most of the issues you come across relatively quickly. When you do confront these problems, try to figure out the underlying causes and deal with them directly. Virtually all of the issues you’ll meet are very basic. I’ll basically follow through and give you the knowledge you need to sort them out. And I’ll also explain why these problems occur, since that part of the understanding can prevent reoccurrence. So let’s get started.

Find more information about welding wire and welding techniques at  UDO website –

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