Plasma Cutter Troubleshooting



It’s unusual that you’re using a tool and never face any problem.

When you work with a plasma cutter, it’s common that you’ll face some problems and you require the instant solution. To help you plasma cutter troubleshooting, I’m creating this blog post.

Hope, it’ll help you a lot.

Here are some very common plasma cutter related problems and their solutions.

Problem 1:

What was wrong with my plasma cutter?

The fan started, the power LED turned on, air blew through the torch when the trigger was pressed. But the problem was there was never an arc nor any cutting.


Well, chance are there is a burned out component(s) inside. Just open it up, discharge the power, and look for broken parts. Some of the most common ones are: blown diode, the leaking capacitor (oozing out the top), burned up resistor, broken relay, broken chip/ MOSFET (chunk missing from the chip).

Problem 2:

No arcing between the contacts. When I removed the swirl ring, there is an arc. Although the arc can cut or melt through metal, it’s not the correct cutting process, because the swirl ring is required for plasma cutting. I’ve replaced all the three components- tip/nozzle, swirl ring and electrode, set the compressed air at different levels and removed the casing to check. However, I didn’t find any burnt circuit or components.


Well, turn the machine off before messing with the metal parts.

Remove the cover.

Check your point gap. Your problem is likely that spark gap has to be widened to around .040" to increase the spark voltage at your torch.

The pad that contacts the electrode may move away from the electrode under air pressure. A spring on the pad shaft may overcome by the air pressure and pushes the pad away from the electrode. The spring may get too hot and fatigued causing the pad to not return to electrode contact after the switch is unkeyed. The pad needs to contact the electrode at key up when the air moves it away from the electrode a gap is created causing electrons to flow through the gap to allow the plasma to be produced and to flow. Replace the spring.

Make sure it is clean and set correctly. Hope this helps.

Problem 3:

The plasma cutter isn’t working, and the resistor gets very hot.


Remove the cover and inspect the inside the lower front part of the unit and hold the torch switch to see if you are getting a spark inside the unit there. If you don't see any spark inside the unit while holding the torch trigger, then something has failed on your lower board there.

Check out the resistor which is located behind the arc points and is standing upright. Remove the board unsolder and install the new one. Hope, it’ll work correctly.

Problem 4:

I’m using Everlast PowerPlasma 80S plasma cutter. I want to cut some 1/8-inch hot rolled steel.

How to set a plasma cutter the best way - how much amperage do I need for what thickness of metal? What air pressure do I need for what thickness of metal?


On the plasma cutter's front panel, you’ll see a pressure gauge. At first, it's set pretty low, right around 15 PSI.

Bump the pressure regulator and change the setting. First, turn up the air pressure to about 60 or 65 PSI if you want it to cut some 1/8-inch hot rolled steel.

To make sure the pressure regulator is locked in place, push down the knob on it.

Turn down the amperage down to 20 amps at 60 PSI and cuts the metal. Then cut it at 25 amps and 30 amps.

The 20 amp cut will take a long time - it just barely wanted to cut through. The 25 amp cut will go a little quicker, and the 25 amp cut will have a few smaller kerf. The 30 amp will look about the same width as the 25 amp, but it’ll cut much more quickly and easily!


It's the air pressure (not amperage) that matters for a clean and good cut. As long as you have the adequate amp to cut through the metal and cut at a decent rate of speed, turn up the air pressure a little more to get a better cut.

Problem: 5

Is a drag cup (shield) necessary when running 30 amps or less plasma cutter?


You need a drag tip if you are going to drag. Don't care what amps you are running.

Problem 6:

I was using AHP AlphaCUT 60 plasma cutter. Its nozzle was screwed on the end of the gun and holds everything together. I was getting right down on the metal and touch the metal while I was cutting, the machine short out. The nozzles and tips worn out - they're right down in the flame getting hit by spattering and get all burned up and crispy.

How can nozzles make plasma cutting easier? Can I use speciality nozzles to improve plasma cutting?


Any standard tip works fine if you’re free-handing and working in tight spaces. However, if you move or shake a little or like to make an extended cut, it’s better to replace regular nozzle or cap that features a drag guide on it. It screws right into place, allows you keep your distance and you’ll be able to see what you’re doing.

You can also use a drag cup. Its brass part is insulated from the tip. So, it remains cool. It comes with relief cuts so that spark can escape. It’ll let you go right down on your metal. Furthermore, it directs more of the light and sparks downward rather than above.

Hypertherm plasma cutters all feature drag tips. The Newest cutter has built-in compressors and automatically set your air pressures for you.

Problem 7:

I see irregularities in the cut surface and these appear only in one axis. What can be the possible reason?


The reasons may include too high gas flow or damaged consumables.

Check the gas flow and replace the consumable if you found any.

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Ronald Wilson

I’m Ronald, Specialist engaged in the manufacture of fabricated metal product. I’ve been involved in the fabrication industry since 1998. To continue my love in welding and to share my experience I've formed a research team and have created this website for our valuable customers.

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