How to Troubleshoot a Wagner Paint Sprayer

Most sprayer troubleshooting requires just basic tools.
Most sprayer troubleshooting requires just basic tools. (Image: wrench image by Edsweb from

You can spend tedious days painting your house by hand, or long, messy hours painting tricky surfaces like shutters and acoustic "popcorn" ceilings. Or you can paint them in a fraction of the time with a Wagner paint sprayer. Paint sprayers are wonderful tools for painting quickly and efficiently, but can be frustrating when they beak down on the job. When you know what to look for, troubleshooting a Wagner paint sprayer can lead you to several on-the-job quick fixes without having to take the rig to a dealer for repair.

Things You'll Need

  • Toothbrush
  • Crescent wrench
  • Paint strainer

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Check the electrical connection and the on/off switch or pressure control knob if the motor does not turn on. Make sure the pressure control knob is set high enough for the unit to start pumping. If it doesn't start and you are using an extension cord, unplug the extension cord and plug the sprayer directly into the wall.

Check your owner's manual for the maximum length and correct gauge of cord you can use with your Wagner model; some won't operate if the cord is too long or too small of a gauge. An extension cord that is too long can also cause the motor to overheat and stop running.

Remove and clean the filters if the Wagner sprayer runs, but doesn't spray. The paint may also be too thick for the pump; thinning the paint with a pint of water per gallon should make it spray easier.

Make sure the tip is not plugged up by removing it and holding it up to the light to see if the filters are clean and the paint thin enough. If you cannot see through it, clean it with a toothbrush and hot water to remove the clog.

Check the paint level in the bucket or reservoir if the paint spits or comes out unevenly. If the paint level is too low, the unit will suck up air. If the paint level is good, try changing the tip. Tips wear out and need to be replaced periodically. Worn tips can make the paint spit and come out unevenly.

Remove the tip with a crescent wrench if it's leaking. Make sure the tip washer and the atomizer valve are properly seated, replace the tip and tighten it securely. Some dripping is inevitable with thinner materials such as stains and clear coatings, especially on the Wagner Power Painter models.


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