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Welding question

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Bruce Fischer, Feb 19, 2014.

  1. AT work they bought a mig welder from tractor supply i liked it and got on to work on my 56 buick wagon.At work i was able to weld a nice line and flow.At my little shop it looks like hen peccking when i weld now .My step son saw that that and took the welder home and tried it at his house [HE WAS GETTING THE SAME RESULTS AT MY SHOP TOO} He said he got a perfect weld at his home.He thinks i have too may outlets in the shop and not enough amps are going to the welder.The guy that had the home before me put in about 15 outlets in the shop.What do you all think? Thanks in advance.Bruce.
  2. Ratrod.piper
    Joined: Dec 30, 2013
    Posts: 38

    from canada

    I would have to ask, is there anything plugged into the outlets? And are the other machines on? if so you might wanna try to unplug all the equipment you're not using while you weld ... I'd also suggest you shut off your breaker box, and make sure that all the wires in the outlet are tight... I had a similar problem at my home, and narrowed it down to the defective outlet, and an extension cord that was too long.. Hope that helps. Cheers
  3. What are the amps on that line??

    What is the feeder wire gauge??

    Are those 15 outlets on the same breaker??

    How are the grounds??

    That welder should be fed by a 20 amp breaker, the outlets fed by 12 gauge wire, and the grounds should be solid, meaning either a separate 12 gauge wire, or solid conduit.

    Every hardware store sell an outlet tester, which plugs into any outlet, and through three lights, will tell you if the outlet is wired correctly, though it won't test amps.

  4. harpo1313
    Joined: Jan 4, 2008
    Posts: 2,337

    from wareham,ma

    yep ,find an outlet thats fed by a 20 amp breaker,if none dont put a 20 amp breaker in the 15 hole,the wire is not the same and will heat up.Is there a plug for refridge or washer?that would be 20 amps.

  5. FWIW, 20 amp outlets have one slot that is a 'T' shape. Most garages don't have 20 amp service. Further, the appearance of a 20 amp outlet does NOT mean that the service is 20 amp. Still further, the appearance of a 20 amp breaker AND 20 amp outlets STILL does not mean that the appropriate wire has been used. You MUST check that there is:
    20 amp breaker, properly installed (not hard, really not hard to do)
    20 amp outlet, properly installed (same degree of difficulty)
    At least 12 gauge wire to the outlet from that breaker. There are formulas to tell what gauge wire to use for what length of service. For instance, the longer the run from breaker to outlet, the larger gauge must be used for proper service. But 12 ga is minimum.
    The number of outlets does have some bearing, in that the more connections that the electricity has to flow through, the less amperage gets through. There is probably something to that effect in the code book.
    Just FWIW, in my own garage, which is sub-paneled, there are three 20 amp breakers for three zones of outlets alone. And no run has more than 5 outlets, ALL are GFCI 20 amp protected. The lights have their own, and two zones for that as well. The welder is on a separate circuit all it's own. And my garage is 24' square. If your garage was wired by the previous owner, double, then triple check his work. I've seen horrific wiring, the stuff that was in my own house is a great example of how not to do electrical wiring.

    When I opened it up, it was charred, in the walls. Think on that, for just a second.

    Yes, I was extremely lucky the whole didn't go up in flames.

  6. Cali4niaCruiser
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 494


    Shielding gas or flux core? Have any pictures?
  7. If the welder pulls 20 amps and you plug into a 15 amp circuit would it not throw the breaker ?????? Think about it......
  8. Guys let me get some pictures and post them later on to day .Thanks for the help so far.Bruce.
  9. Calf cruiser it is flux core.Bruce.
  10. 110 or 220 machine ?

    If its 220, you need 1 leg to come from each leg in the panel.
  11. How many outlets are connected to a circuit isn't really an issue, it's how many are in use at the same time.

    But this sounds more like a voltage drop issue; is your shop attached to your house or separate? How far away is it if separate? Is it fed from your house panel, and how many/what size incoming circuits do you have? How many other things are operating when you're trying to weld?

    Inadequate sized wire and/or excessive distance from the supplying power sounds like the problem. This leaves you two possible choices; reduce the load (unplug everything but the welder when using it) but this still may not 'fix' the issue, or upgrade the wire/circuit to the shop.
  12. 53 sparky
    Joined: Feb 22, 2013
    Posts: 131

    53 sparky

    A simple way to test this before you spend a bunch of time fixing stuff you don't know much about: get a voltmeter and test an outlet on the circuit under two different conditions.

    1- while nothing is in use on the circuit the voltage where your welder is connected should read anywhere between 115 and 125.

    2- have someone read the voltage again while you're welding a piece of scrap.

    If you want to go one step further, do the same thing at your son's place. A large difference between measurement 1 & 2 is a sure sign of a voltage drop issue which will require larger conductors supplying the circuit.

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  13. jetnow1
    Joined: Jan 30, 2008
    Posts: 1,908

    from CT
    1. A-D Truckers

    Or just go to your son's shop to weld. Not really trying to be a wise ass but there are so
    many possible issues with wiring that it really may be the simplest way to go. If you are
    not qualified to check the wiring please spend a few $$ and get a qualified electrician to
    check it- Your 56 buick wagon is too nice a vehicle to lose to an electrical fire.
  14. sometimes these welders come with cheap wire, mite try somethin better, there was a thread about those Harbor Freight welders and that comment was made several times.
  15. Ok guys the shop is on its own meter, My step son lives in apartment so welding there is out.It is also 110 not 220.I am using wire from tractor supply now and its 030 if that helps .All the breakers in the box are 20 amp.Except the pitac unit {heat and a.c.} and the air compressor, which are 30 amps.I am posting a few pictures if that helps.Thanks Bruce.

  16. Ok, pretty easy to see you have a power supply electrical problem at your place since the machine works well at your sons place. I don't think it's a welding issue
  17. If the shop has it's own service, then it's probably not a low voltage issue. But it does open up a can of worms....

    Does the welder work right if it's plugged into another outlet in the shop or at your house? If the answer is yes, that narrows it down some. If no, I'd suspect a bad welder. If the welder is good but you're 'electrically challenged', I'd highly recommend bringing in an electrician to check it out as there's multiple possible problems that may not be very obvious to the layman.
  18. PKap
    Joined: Jan 5, 2011
    Posts: 593

    from Alberta

    I used to have one like that, worked ok.
    I would open the other side of the welder and make sure all of the electrical connections inside are tight. My ground cable was loose and melted the insulation at the connection in the welder. I replaced it with a larger gauge and made sure everything was tight. Made a huge difference. Simple thing that a buddy missed was that he installed solid wire in his flux core welder by mistake once. Took us a long time to figure out why it didn't weld right suddenly.
    May be worth confirming that too.

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  19. fsae0607
    Joined: Apr 3, 2012
    Posts: 871


    Most garage outlets are 15 amp circuits with 14 gage wire. Unless you installed your own outlets, maybe the voltage drop is to blame.

    It's always best to have dedicated 20 amp circuits on 12 gage wire to your garage, coming straight off of the main panel. Either do it yourself or pay an electrician. I installed my own outlets a few years ago, and it's not that hard. Get Black & Decker's "Complete Guide to Home Wiring" and read it cover to cover. :cool:
  20. pressuredrop
    Joined: Feb 12, 2009
    Posts: 60

    from mesa AZ

    You might need to reverse the polarity on the machine if you're using flux core.

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  21. Eslope T
    Joined: Sep 11, 2012
    Posts: 21

    Eslope T

    Do you have it plugged into an extension cord?
    If it is a small gage extension it can also cause problems.
  22. Cali4niaCruiser
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 494


    The garage electrical sounds like its set up decent. Don't take this as an insult, but unless the machine itself has issues, I'm leaning towards operator error. There are lots of things that can go wrong. Do you have a good ground and connections? What thickness metal are you welding on? How high is the machine turned up? Did you do any surface prep or cleaning of the metal before welding? Could the wire be slipping in between the feed wheels? Unless you've got someone experienced helping you along,the learning curve can be steep! I'm certified in arc pipeline welding and do respectable MIG and TIG at home. I still learn something new every year.
  23. fsae0607
    Joined: Apr 3, 2012
    Posts: 871


    ^^ Cali has a point, but if you plan on welding at home a lot, I would still recommend to have good dedicated 20-amp outlets to run 120V welders. There's tons of variables when welding, and having a good source of power is one less thing to worry about! :)
  24. mike bowling
    Joined: Jan 1, 2013
    Posts: 3,556

    mike bowling

    totally agree- dedicated outlets for anything that draws a lot (welder, compressor, etc).You won't be overworking the machines that way or popping breakers. And I think extension cords are a bad move in general, but especially with heavier draw equipment. That's why most electrical codes require outlets every so many feet . Good luck with it. Mike from Mass.
  25. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 7,094

    from Oregon

    I doubt it has much to do with amperage, as it most likely would trip a breaker if the circuit wasn't large enough. Since it works elsewhere, then we can rule out the welder as having any problems, or it wouldn't work anywhere.
    What you may have is more likely resistance issues on the circuit you're dealing with, and that can be anything from a poor connection in a wire nut splice, or a cheap receptacle that someone wired through to continue the circuit. Make sure your receptacles are not the type that the wires simply stab into the back, as those break down under heavy loads and have voltage drop or worse, meltdowns!
    If you have another outlet in your home, or maybe an outside outlet at your house, then try the welder there, and do a test run. If that works, then you need to disassemble each outlet in the garage circuit, and see where the resistance issue is and fix it.
  26. MEDDLER1
    Joined: Jun 1, 2006
    Posts: 1,590


    I'm curious, did you by chance try the first outlet closest to the panel in the run of fifteen? I think Cosmo said it best with just checking to make sure you have good connections at the breakers and outlets as well as the proper sized wire. Fwiw I have a Hobart 140 that I take to jobsites and run it fine on some of the crappiest circuits and extension cords avail. I hate using cords but sometimes there is no choice. One time I did have an issue it was due to a wire nut that had came off inside a junction box and the wires were not making proper contact. Good luck and let us know what you find out!
  27. 5Wcoupe
    Joined: Oct 2, 2007
    Posts: 306

    from L.A., Ca.

    If your welder (or any other electrical device) draws more amperage than the supply can provide it will either trip the breaker or overheat/ burn the wire. If you consider that, you can rule out most of the possibilities mentioned (including extension cord size/ length, distances of outlets, etc. There are many factors that can cause improper weld described that are imho more likely. You might consider taking it back to the shop where it performed well before and trying again there. I have a feeling the problems will happen there too.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014
  28. luke13
    Joined: Oct 25, 2013
    Posts: 381


    when i was working in heavy fab a few years back you always noticed the welders ran much better when you were doing overtime after 3/4 of the other welding gang knocked off.
  29. cryobug
    Joined: Jun 6, 2005
    Posts: 362


    Chinese welding wire will weld good for a while and then make you rethink your abilities. It is all my local welding supplier has on hand. I started only using Lincoln wire and my issues went away.
  30. RPM
    Joined: Feb 5, 2005
    Posts: 204


    Is this a flux core wire welder and you are trying to use regular mig wire with no gas?

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