Why Is My MIG Welder Popping? Troubleshoot Your Welder

Is your MIG welder popping? If so, I will walk you through the complications and how to avoid them during welding.

MIG welder popping occurs when the wire is fed faster than the arc speed. The wire feed speed is faster than what it takes for the arc to melt the metal. It can also happen due to low shielding gas pressure or incorrect type, size, and wire speed.

Keep reading and I’ll try to answer each possible question you might have about MIG welder popping.

MIG Welding Basics

Gas metal arc welding is considered one of the effective yet simplest ways to fuse metals. The entire welding process becomes easy with automatic transmission- you have full access and control on the welding speed and secondary voltage. The power source happens to handle different welding conditions by adjusting the welding parameters automatically.

However, working with a tool as simple as an automatic MIG welder can have its complications. The wire feed system is a fair host of unexpected issues among the other challenges in MIG welding. One of the problems that cause weak welds (shallow penetration) is MIG welder popping.

The only way to have your way out of this problem is to learn basic MIG welding troubleshooting techniques. The right solution will find the root cause of MIG welder popping and won’t disrupt your welding process.

Having said that, many people come with the question, ‘Why is my MIG welder popping?’

What Is MIG Welder Popping?

A MIG welding tool pops when the wire feeding speed to melting ratio is not correct. It simply means that the wire feeding speed is slightly greater than the melting speed of the wire. The optimal settings create a sizzling or steady buzzing. However, you will hear a popping noise when the wire feeding speed is fast.

Related: Why Is My MIG Welder Sputtering?

What Causes MIG Welder Popping?

Causes of MIG Welder Popping

We know how the wire feeding speed plays a role in creating a popping noise that goes on to make weaker welds. But we are not aware of the multiple reasons, such as:

Material Thickness

The thickness of your welding metal matters greatly. For example, you have to run at slightly higher Inches per Minute (IPM) if you weld a 1/8” metal sheet. Whereas, you have to lower the IPM if you are tackling a thicker piece of metal. The point being- the slower you weld, the deeper you penetrate.

Even though the wire speed is the main culprit, you have to consider the material thickness if MIG weld penetrating is not going the way it should be.

Size of The Wire

The size of the wire also accounts for the popping problem. One has to avoid popping by using different sizes of wires for specific welding speeds.

For instance, 50 IPM speed is optimal for a 0.35 wire. However, a 0.23 welding wire will work efficiently at 300 IPM.

MIG welders come with wires of different sizes. But you must check the user’s manual and adjust the welder to optimal operating settings.

The Type of The Wire

The MIG welder problem, popping, also occurs due to the wire type. For example, the speed and voltage settings for solid core wire can not be used for flux core wire. Similarly, you would have to change the wire type if you are welding aluminum right after stainless steel.


Next to wire feeding speed is the amperage that will affect the quality of your welds. Troubleshooting MIG welder is incomplete if you have not considered the amperage settings. If you don’t run your welder on the correct amperage, the wire might turn out to be too cold or hot.

You have to consider the material’s thickness and multiply it by 1000 if you want to figure out the correct operating amperage.

For example, you have to set the amperage at 250 amps if you are welding ¼” mild steel. All you have to do is multiply the decimal value of the thickness by 1000.


The most overlook parameter is the voltage. You have to adjust the voltage as per the instruction in the manual to get desired results. The best way to adjust the voltage is to partner up with another welder. Start with a low voltage and make your way up till you see a stable arc.

How to Identify If My MIG Welder Is Popping?

It is easy to identify MIG welder popping if you know the culprits behind it. However, most novice welders fail to detect the issue because they are not familiar with amperage, wire type, or wire thickness as such.

If you are a novice welder, here are possible ways to detect MIG welder popping:

Detecting by Noise

MIG welders make a steady buzzing or sizzling noise during the entire process. A popping noise is a lot different than a steady sizzling noise. We will start with the noises to save all the confusion from the beginning:

·         Sizzling Sound

If you hear a sound similar to what you hear when frying up meat, such as bacon, don’t worry. It indicated that your torch is sizzling nicely. Yes, you would hear a popping noise half-way through but it does not mean your settings are not calibrated right.

·         Snapping Sound

If you hear a lot of snapping or popping noise, check the wire feeding speed. A higher speed allows the wire to come out faster than it should. Your heat settings should calibrate with the wire feeding system accurately.

·         Hissing and Popping Sound

Many welders avoid shielding gas while using flux-core wire. This is the reason why your welder makes a popping + hissing sound.

·         Hissing Sound

If you keep the wire speed too high, you comprise the quality of the welds. The case stands the same if you keep the settings too low. The welder might make a hissing (like a gas leakage) sound.

·         Irregular Operational Sound

You hear irregular noises when the end of the electrode is too far from the contact tip. You might observe the change in volume and pitch as well. However, irregular sounds are not related to the popping problem.

Detecting by Weld Quality

The quality of the welds is greatly affected by MIG welder sputtering and popping. We will discuss the results and troubleshoot the MIG welder.

Flat Welds with Fairly Wide Bead Appearance

If the bead appearance is uniform, wide and flat, you should not worry about popping. However, you have to cross-check by observing the back part of your weld as well. Your welds should not protrude from the metal surface.

If you see a flawless line with deep weld penetration, you are good to continue.

MIG Weld Not Penetrating

If the wire speed is dialed in too high, you would hear the popping noise clearly. Other than that, the bead appearance will be below the belt.

Your MIG gun will help you indicate the problem. The wire will push too hard on the MIG gun if it not melted correctly. In short, your MIG gun will tell you right away if the melted wire is hitting the surface of the metal piece or not.

It is where the popping sound originates. The gun forms individual globs on the surface if we push it too hard against the wire. You won’t be able to form a weld puddle. Hence, your weld penetration will be compromised. The output will be nothing but a weak yet poor weld.

How to Stop MIG Welder from Popping?

Popping comprises the weld quality and has to be contained at any cost. Here are some ways to avoid it:

Readjust the Wire Feeding Speed

Readjust your feeding speed and turn it up and down until you hear the buzzing or sizzling sound.

Check Your Contact Tip

The contact tip is sensitive to weld abuse- the dirt and splatter can cause the wire to stick to the tip. Put on a new tip if you observe severe blockage from splatter.

Check the Wire for Rust

Your welding wires will rust if you work in a moisture-concentrated environment. Rusty wires produce a jerking motion and cause the gun to pop. Buy a fresh roll of wire to overcome popping due to rust.

Check the Welder’s Liner

The liner resides within the welding gun. It is used to protect the wire as it goes through the lead and roller. Welding areas are not the cleanest places. Therefore, the dirt can plug in the liner and comprise the weld results. Replace the liner to overcome the popping issue.

Troubleshoot Your MIG Welder

Amperage Settings To Avoid Popping

Thickness (Inch)GaugeAmperage

Consider The Wire Type, Diameter, and Welding Technique

Consider if you want to use solid-wire or flux-core wire for welding. Generally, flux-core welding is recommended to weld thicker materials without compromising welding quality.

There are shielding gas ingredients so you, don’t have to worry about the spatter and popping.

What you must worry about is selecting the right equipment, wire speed, wire type, and amperage for welding material with a certain thickness.

The following settings will help you achieve the best results. However, you can always tweak these settings to get more optimal results.

Solid Wire MIG Welding

ThicknessWire DiameterAmperageWirespeed (IPM)
0.31, 0.37. 0.500.2330-90100-400
0.31, 0.37. 0.50, 0.63, 0.78, 0.1250.3040-14590-340
0.50, 0.63, 0.78, 0.125, 0.188, 0.250.3550-18080-380

Flux Core Welding

ThicknessWire DiameterAmperageWirespeed (IPM)
0.37. 0.50, 0.63, 0.780.3040-14590-340
0.50, 0.63, 0.78, 0.125, 0.1880.3550-18080-380
0.63, 0.78, 0.125, 0.188, 0.250.4575-25070-270

Is MIG Welder Sputtering the Same as Popping?

Welding is an intricate and complex process. The reduced current at the arc is sensed by the power source immediately. Therefore, it creates a surge in the voltage to overcome the restricted/limited current flow. The surge in the voltage is the main reason that causes MIG welder sputtering.

Spatter or sputtering refers to consistent blobs of molten metal. They are in the form of liquid and stick on any surface they land on. If they fall on the welding surface, they can leave a nasty mess which you would have to clean up after.

Moreover, they are dangerous as they can solder a gruesome hold or burn through onto the human skin.

Metal decomposition, metal coating, dirty metal, low-grade filter, and high voltage are factors that contribute to the production of excessive spatter.

Spatter is a nightmare for many welders. Although we can’t avoid sputtering, we can minimize it in the following ways:

  • Grind off the coat where you will do the welding work
  • Wiping the dirty metal with a rag
  • Using a high-end filter and cleaning the dirt, oil, and dust off the filler

Popping Vs. Spatter

However, sputtering differentiates from popping greatly. Spatter only occurs if the pool of the molten weld is disturbed while transferring the wire to the surface. The only culprit here is the correlation between the voltage and the amperage. For example, you might undergo sputtering frequently if the amperage is too high and the voltage setting is low.

Even the professionals can’t avoid the spatter. Readjusting settings of the wire speed and voltage is the only solution to minimize spatter significantly. Keep readjusting both the parameters for less sputtering.

Bottom line

Popping is one of the main challenges to occur in the MIG welding process. However, beginners can contain the problem through practice and experience.

Try different amperage and wire speed settings to weld different materials. It is recommended to get yourself cheap scrap metal to practice welding different materials.

Learn more about MIG welding basics and advanced techniques on WeldingRage.com

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