For those of you that are all about DIY, we’ve got the steps for you to help you make your water cooler for a TIG welder. By making your water cooler, you’ll be able to save some cash and make adjustments to your water cooler more easily. You’ll be able to save a decent amount of money, making your welding projects a lot more affordable.
So, how do you make a water cooler for TIG welder? You’ll need to buy a suitable pump, a small gaming computer liquid cooler radiator, the matching computer powered fan, an aluminum plate, and the plumbing for the machine. After that, it’s a simple matter of following our steps to construct your device.
Since there isn’t a lot of information available on the Internet today about how to make your water cooler for a TIG welder, we put together this article to help you out. Below we’ll cover how you can make your water cooler for a TIG welder and why you’ll need to use your water cooler coolant with your welder.
Making Your Water Cooler
If you’re considering making your water cooler for a TIG welder, we’ve got the steps for you below. I will guide you through the process of how I made my water cooler for a TIG welder in the following list.
Step 1: Get Your Pump
First, you’ll need to purchase a worthwhile pump. I needed a pump that would run on 110VAC, which could pump a small amount of liquid at a decent amount of head, that wasn’t pricey, and that had a conveniently located are for storing the volume. I was able to identify what I needed in an air conditioning condensate pump, which offered all of these things. I spent about $40 or so on it for a new one.
So you know the specs on the air conditioning condensate pump I purchased, it was a Little Giant VCMA-15ULS. It has a 65gph rating at no head, or it has a 25 GPH at 10 of the head. The maximum pressure on my pump is 6.5 psi. You want a max pressure on your pump right around this level because TIG torches do not offer many restrictions and don’t work well with a lot of pressure.
Step 2: Get a Cooling Radiator and Matching Fan
Next, you’ll need to make sure you get a matching fan. Having a ½ to 1-gallon tank on the type of pump you’ve purchased won’t be enough to cool the torch by itself. Because of that, I wound up buying a small gaming computer’s liquid cooling radiator, and I matched it to a 115V computer fan.
Once you’ve got those parts, you’ll need to cut off the junk that’s on the top of the condensate pump tank lid. Next, move the float switch out. You’ll need to get an aluminum plate to cut off the part of the pump holding the unnecessary items you won’t need to use.
Step 3: Set-Up Your Plumbing
The next thing you’ll need to set-up is your plumbing. Your TIG torch supply will come from the pump directly out of the pump’s tank. Then, go back to the TIG torch and put it into the side of the cooler, going through the radiator area. Once it’s by the radiator, you’ll then put the TIG torch back into the tank and wait for the tank to recirculate.
I wound up taking out the pump’s cooling fan and replacing it with the 115V computer fan since it was able to cool down everything. However, to keep the cooling system more efficient, I needed to place a cover on the cooler. Also, I put a computer fan air filter on the radiator, too, to be safe. While that step isn’t essential, I still recommend doing it because it will keep the air circulation process healthier overall.
Step 4: Get the TIG Torch
Now you’ll need to start focusing on the TIG torch to finalize your project. When I first attempted to make my water cooler, I had a WP18, and I knew that was too large. I did not own the right-sized connector for my machine. So, I wound up searching for a WP20 TIG torch that also gave me the right sized connector. I wound up looking around for this for a while, and I couldn’t find it, so I finally called a supplier.
I wound up purchasing an HTP TIG Torch with the right connector, which is supposed to have better flexibility and offer a better cooling set-up when compared to a weld craft set-up. I’m happy to report that the HTP hose is much more flexible than the other types of tubes I have used.
Now you should have your water cooler for your TIG welder planned out, set-up, and ready to go. We’ll now cover how you should connect the TIG Torch to the cooler.
Step 5: Set-Up the Pump and Torch
Now you’ll need to go to the cooler basin area and make sure you’ve got your submersible pump inside. The closer the cooler is to the torch handle and the torch cord, the easier it is to get everything joined together.
If there is an outer jacket on your torch cord, make sure you remove it and open it. You want to make sure you can use everything with the gas tubing and the power conductor. Look for the two copper tools located on the bottom area of the torch’s handle. You’ll need those items to conduct water both into and out of your torch.
Step 6: Prepare the Tubing
Now, you need to unroll the tubing and connect one side of it to the torch grip. At a ¼ inch, hosepipe clamp to the tubing to keep it safe and tighten it with a screwdriver. It doesn’t matter which copper fitting you join the tubing too.
Next, you’ll need to run the plastic tubing to the end of the torch’s cord until you reach the submersible pump that you’ve placed inside of your container. You’ll then need to cut the tubing so that it goes smoothly from end to end. The hosepipe clamp should protect the output fitting at this point. If all that is done, you’ve got the tubing feed for your water all set-up.
Step 7: Connect the Left Tubing
Now you need to grab the left tubing and connect it to the other copper fitting you’ll find on your welding torch’s grip. You’ll use this to drain out the water, and it will reverse into the sink of your water cooler. You’ll need another hosepipe clamp here so that you can keep the drainpipe safely connected to the torch fitting.
After that, you’ll need to cut the tubing from end to end so that you can place part of it on the bottom of the cooler sink. You should be able to loop the end in the cooler sink to finish it off. Once you are done, you’ll need to place the torch cord’s wrap back on it and fit everything in the cover. To get your cooler working, you’ll need to fill it with new water and close off the top. You want a lid so that no debris is flying in, and something as simple as plywood for a cover will work fine.
You are now ready to plug the pump into the wall and get going if you already know a thing or two about coolant. However, if you’re curious to learn a little more about what a TIG welding torch needs coolant, we’ll cover why you need coolant below.
Why Do You Need Coolant?
Whether you make your cooler and use the steps we provided above, or whether you decide to purchase one, you need to know that every plasma cutting system has to have some fluid and cooling system to cool down the torch. Having a coolant system developed for your TIG welding torch means the electrode and nozzle will be protected from melting regardless of how high the temperature gets in the torch.
If you’re utilizing a smaller torch, say one that is up to 100 amps, you can use air as a “fluid” to cool your torch. With a torch this tiny, you can use the same air that’s used in the plasma gas to cool the torch down. However, this capability doesn’t exist as the current gets higher on a welding torch. Once you reach over 100 amps, you need to get a separate cooling liquid, which could potentially include water, to get rid of the heat.
Plasma Welding Torch Heat Sources
Most of us assume that the largest source of heat within our TIG welding torch’s system must be the plasma cutting torch itself. However, that assumption is incorrect. It’s the power leads that heat the most, which are made up of a flexible braided metal cable and found beneath a cooling hose connected to the torch’s body. The power leads to create so much heat since they are designed to create a lot of electrical current in a small cross-section of space.
Since the power leads have to move so much heat in such a small area and they are made to generate heat continually, something needs to be present inside the torch to remove the heat and keep the hoses from melting. That’s where coolant comes in when dealing with a plasma welding torch.
Another part of the torch that creates a large amount of heat as well inside of the torch body is the electrode. The electrode’s face connects to the plasma arc, meaning vast amounts of power typically pass through that small metal area. So, the electrode and the plasma arc also need to be kept from melting, and that’s another reason why a coolant needs to circulate through the electrode on your TIG welding torch as well.
How a Cooler Helps
Since most people tend to weld over a long period, they’ll need to factor in how a cooler will help work with their coolant and their TIG welding torch. Once the coolant cools the flame down, its temperature has increased since before it entered the torch. If you are moving coolant around and around again through a closed circuit area, the refrigerant itself will keep heating up. Eventually, the coolant will become too hot to cool the TIG welding torch down by itself. That means you need something that will keep the coolant’s temperature low, which is where a cooler comes into play.
Coolers are needed for TIG welding torches because they help keep down the temperature of the coolant. Most coolers for TIG welders are comprised of a simple radiator and a fan that can blow air through the radiator area. Water is the usual coolant on most TIG welder coolers. That coolant moves through the radiator, conducting heat out of the liquid and putting that heat into the metal radiator. After that, the temperature is undertaken into the moving air and blown away by the fan.
Some coolers for TIG welders include what’s known as a “chiller.” A chiller is a system that utilizes a heat exchanger, refrigerant, and compressor to bring down the coolant’s temperature massively. Whether you decide to use a cooler or a chiller, both types of products are made to bring down the heat of your TIG welding torch.
Both TIG water coolers and TIG chillers pump the coolant from a reservoir that pushes through at high pressure. Because the pressure is high, there is enough flow rate, and that rate can be maintained through small areas found on the torch’s interior, including the long hoses. If you don’t get sufficient coolant flow inside of your TIG welding torch, your flame will overheat, and that can cause components to melt.
How a Plasma Torch is Cooled
Now that you understand how to make a water cooler for a TIG welder, and how the coolant and cooler work together to cool down the TIG welding torch, we’ll cover how a plasma torch is cooled. When the refrigerant first enters the interior of the TIG welding torch, the first thing the coolant will encounter is the electrode’s back. On the electrode, there is a tiny opening for coolant to flow through, so it needs to move through this area of the torch at a higher speed.
By moving through the small, hot area at a high rate of speed, the coolant will carry heat off more effectively. That little opening in the electrode is the smallest spot inside the torch, so there is a considerable pressure drop in this area of the cooling system.
After the coolant cools down the electrode, the liquid moves back into the torch’s body area and exits through a different passage to cool the nozzle. It’s a good idea to swirl coolant around the outside of the nose when you can because doing that will extend the lifespan of your nozzle. After the coolant leaves the torch, it goes back into the cooler.
What Types of Coolant Can You Use?
There is a bevy of options to pick from when it comes to selecting a TIG welding torch coolant. Just about every manufacturer of a plasma welding torch offers its brand of coolant, and you’ll also find several after-market brands available, too. With so many options available to you, it can be dizzying to figure out the best type of coolant for your needs. However, most choices use ethylene glycol or propylene glycol mixed with distilled water as the primary ingredients.
Typically you’ll find a mix that includes about 25 to 50% glycol to about 75 to 50% water. If you purchase a coolant in a store, a few do feature no glycol at all. Also, if you buy coolant at a store, you’ll find that most of them offer freeze protection from +12º F to as low as -35 F.
Many of these coolants you can buy use glycol additives because the glycol reduces the freezing temperature. So, you can assume that the higher the glycol content is in a particular mixture, the lower the freezing temperature of the coolant. However, sometimes, a glycol additive has a disadvantage. Glycol additives can also reduce cooling efficiency, and that can bring down the consumable lifespan of the welding torch.
However, probably the best coolant to use is pure water. Distilled water works well when it comes to moving heat away from your TIG welding torch’s electrode. Pure water also does a great job of discharging that heat through a radiator. Keep in mind that the better job you do of cooling down your electrode, the longer your electrode will last. So, the type of coolant mix you use with your TIG welding torch can affect the consumable lifespan.
It does help to add a bit of regular glycol to your distilled water if you want to make your coolant. If you change from a high percentage to a low rate of glycol in your coolant, you can bring up that consumable lifespan by at least 30%. That’s why we say add no more than 25% glycol to your distilled water if you decide to mix your coolant for your TIG welder’s water cooler.
Now that we’ve guided you through making a water cooler for your TIG welder and understand how your cooler and coolant works with your TIG welder, you should be all set to go. Now it’s time to get back to some old-fashioned welding fun!