How to Troubleshoot a Cutting Torch

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The purpose of a cutting torch is to cut through various sizes of metals. Most torch problems and complaints come from the torch tip and from the O-rings that seal the nuts. Over time, the ports inside the tip will develop blockage from metal particles and other debris and the O-rings will wear out. The torch can also malfunction for various other reasons. Proper cleaning of the torch tip and replacing the O-rings will generally resolve the issue. You may have to disassemble the torch to troubleshoot it to locate other problems.

Things You'll Need

  • Striker
  • Open-end wrench set
  • Wire brush
  • Cutting torch tip-cleaning tool

Inspect the acetylene and oxygen tanks to ensure they are full and that the valves are open. Inspect the pressure gauges on top of the tanks. The gauge reading will show you how much pressure is coming out of each tank and into the torch lines. If the gauges are working, the gauge needles will be positioned over a pressure amount number. If the gauges are not working, the gauge needle will not move at all. The acetylene gauge reading should be around 7 p.s.i and the oxygen gauge reading should be around 25-p.s.i.

Inspect the top and bottom portion of the torch for any damage such as cracking or breaks. Check the threads that secure the nut to the top and bottom portions of the torch. Also check the two hose connection threads on the bottom of the torch base.

Open the acetylene knob on the base torch handle by turning it counterclockwise. Ignite the tip of the torch with the striker. Slowly open the oxygen knob at the base of the torch handle until the inner flame turns into a short blue cone-shape. If the torch tip will not produce the desired blue flame or you hear a lot of popping and cracking, turn both knobs off and disassemble the torch to troubleshoot the problem.

Close the valves on the acetylene and oxygen bottles. Disconnect the acetylene hose and the oxygen hose from the two tanks with an open-end wrench. Disconnect the hose ends from the base of the cutting torch with the wrench. Stretch the hoses out on the floor and inspect thoroughly for holes, cracks, splits or any other damage that would create leaks in the torch lines. Also check the end of each hose for any damage such as a warped screw-on nut or a mashed screw-on nut.

Disconnect the top half of the torch from the bottom half by turning the screw-on nut counterclockwise. Pull the two sections apart. Look to see if the nut has an O-ring. If so, check the condition of the O-ring and replace if necessary.

Remove the tip of the torch by turning the tip mounting nut counter-clockwise with a wrench. Most problems that happen in the torch tip involve the tip nut not being tightened down properly, damaged O-ring or clogged port holes. If the port holes are clogged, it will prevent the proper amount of acetylene and oxygen from flowing out of the torch tip.

Check the torch tip for clogged ports. Brush the torch tip thoroughly with a wire brush to remove any debris or metal particles. If the torch tip is warped or flattened on the end, replace with a new tip.

Clean the inside of the torch tip port holes with a torch tip cleaning tool. Clean all of the acetylene port holes and the center oxygen port hole. Reassemble the torch tip with the tip nut. Tighten the tip nut clockwise.

Reassemble the top and bottom portions of the cutting torch. Screw the mounting nut to the top portion of the torch until it is hand tight, then use the wrench. Screw the acetylene hose and the oxygen hose back to the bottom of the torch. Reattach the acetylene and oxygen hoses to the pressure gauges on each supply tank. Tighten the nuts, then open the valves to both pressure gauges. Turn the acetylene knob and light the tip of the torch with the striker. Test-cut a piece of metal to ensure that the torch is working properly.

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