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When spray painting, the approach you use matters. Otherwise, the results may look uneven.

You know this, but you’re not pleased with your spray painting lately. Your Wagner sprayer has been acting up. It just doesn’t want to spray evenly, and sometimes it doesn’t spray at all.

You’re not sure what to do. Your paint sprayer was an investment. If you just bought it a few years ago, you don’t want to just replace it.

Luckily, you don’t have to. It’s easier than you think to troubleshoot your Wagner paint sprayer and get it in working order again.

Troubleshooting for Wagner

Popular Wagner Paint Sprayers:

  • SPRAY TYPE / PATTERN: Horizontal, vertical, and circular spray pattern
  • POWER SOURCE: Electrical Cord
  • WEIGHT: 11.2 pounds
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  • SPRAY TYPE / PATTERN: Nozzle that creates the ideal spray pattern for coatings application
  • POWER SOURCE: Electrical Cord
  • WEIGHT: 8.8 pounds
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  • SPRAY TYPE / PATTERN: Horizontal and vertical spray patterns and spray width lever for wide and narrow patterns
  • POWER SOURCE: Electrical Cord
  • MAX FLOW RATE: 0.1333 GPM
  • WEIGHT: 9.1 pounds
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  • SPRAY TYPE / PATTERN: Dual tip; Ez tilt allows spraying paintvat any angle
  • POWER SOURCE: Electrical Cord
  • WEIGHT: 6 pounds
View Latest Price

Wagner Pain Sprayer Troubleshooting Tips:

1. Tailing Spray Pattern

As we said, spray painting technique is important. You need a strong, consistent spray pressure to get good results.

What if the spray pattern is leaving something to be desired?

This is known as tailing, and it’s not pretty. It is fixable, though.

There are a handful of reasons your paint sprayer may be tailing.

What kind of paint are you trying to use?

If the paint is heavier, it’s probably too thick. That can weigh down the sprayer. You can either buy different paint or use a paint thinner to improve the consistency.

Heavier paint may clog the spray gun filter, inlet filter, or the spray tip too, so be careful.

It’s also possible that over time, the spray tip has weakened. In this case, the best option is to replace the tip.

You shouldn’t have to deal with tailing anymore.

2. Leaking Paint from Sprayer

Paint leaks? Uh-oh.

If your Wagner paint sprayer isn’t keeping paint, you need to fix this.

Start by taking off the spray tip. A crescent wrench makes this easier to remove. Sometimes the atomizer valve and tip washer get loose.

That could be what’s causing the leaks.

If so, tighten these back up. Replace the spray tip. Now try the sprayer again.

Do know that using certain types of paint will cause leaking regardless of the tightness of the atomizer valve and tip washer. These include clear coatings and certain stains.

3. Leaking Paint from Spray Tip

wagner paint sprayer leaking

Before, we mentioned how the Wagner paint sprayer itself may leak paint. This is a different problem. Now too much paint is coming from the spray tip.

The spray tip should only release paint when the sprayer is on and running. Otherwise, nothing should come out.

If the spray tip leaks paint long after the sprayer is off, check the gun seal.

Eventually, you will need a new one.

If the paint sprayer is brand new, or you’ve only used it a few times, there’s a chance it was put together the wrong way.

If you built or rebuilt the sprayer yourself, you might want to check your owner’s manual. Reread it and make sure you put all parts together correctly. 

If the manufacturer assembled the sprayer, you need to call the manufacturer.

They should offer to fix the issue or give you a refund. 

4. No Spray

One of the worst-case scenarios is a paint sprayer that won’t spray. This sprayer isn’t destined for the trash heap, though.

Look for the most obvious solutions first.

Is it possible you forgot to turn the prime/spray knob to the proper settings? This should be set to spray.

Also make sure the sprayer is on level ground.

If you already did those things, there are other tactics you can try.

The spray tip itself is set in a default position. It’s possible you have this on clean instead of spray. If that’s the case, no paint will come out when you try to use the sprayer.

Spray gun filters get dirty and you will have to clean these.

With a wrench, you should be able to remove the spray gun filter to clean it. Use an oil-based or mineral-based cleaner, soap, and warm water.

Again, the spray tip could be clogged up with gunk. You will have to remove this and clean it as well.

5. Air Stuck In the Sprayer

Is air coming out of your sprayer instead of paint?

This can be annnoying, but there’s usually a simple fix.

Check your paint levels. If you’re running out of paint, air will come out of the sprayer instead.

Not sure where the paint is stored?

It’s in the reservoir or bucket of the paint sprayer. Replenish the paint and no more air should come out. Watch the file line, though, and don’t overfill trying to compensate.

6. Failing Motor

A motor powers your Wagner painting sprayer. This motor may fail in some instances, which prevents the sprayer from working at all.

The fix for motor troubles is actually quite easy.

What kind of cord are you using?

This could be causing the issues.

Lengthy cords, including extension cords, may put too much strain on the motor. This leads to overheating. Shorter cords will do the same.

You need to find a happy medium for cord length.

If you absolutely need to use an extension cord to wrap up a painting project, do your work as quickly as possible. Or if it’s a larger project, do it in intervals to avoid overheating.

wagner failing motor

7. Motor Doesn’t Run at All

What’s worse than a failing motor?

A motor that doesn’t turn on.

It can happen, though. Once again, limit your extension cord usage as much as possible. Try to avoid using these if you can.

If the extension cord isn’t the problem, check the pressure control knob. It’s possible this is at the wrong setting.

If the pressure control knob is set correctly, the problem could be the outlet you’re plugging the Wagner paint sprayer into. Try using a few different outlets to make sure it’s the sprayer, and not the outlet.

If this fails to fix the motor issue, you’re probably going to have to contact the manufacturer.

8. Lack of Pressure

Everything seems to be working well with your Wagner paint sprayer, to a point. The paint is loaded. The sprayer is ready to go. Then you start to use it and pressure rapidly decreases.

What’s up with that?

There are a variety of reasons this could happen. By spending some time troubleshooting, you can find the culprit.

Check your inlet valve.

Is this dirty?

If so, you can use a ratchet wrench to release it. The inlet valve consists of six parts: four inlet fitting O-rings, the inlet filling itself, and then the actual inlet valve. You can clean these with a latex-based cleaner, soap, and warm water.

As you clean each part of the inlet valve, take a look at these. If any of these parts are in poor shape, change them out for new parts. Do the same for the outlet valve. Clean it, look at the parts, and change these if need be.

Again, heavy paint could be causing reduced pressure. Use a paint thinner.

If excess paint is backing up the spray gun filter, you can either clean this or get a new one.

The spray tip may also be clogged. Remove and clean this. Replace the tip when you’re done.

If the tip is old, it may be best to change it out.

9. Prime Knob Not Working

We already mentioned how the knob of the Wagner paint sprayer can be set to either prime or spray. We also said how if the knob is on the wrong setting, the sprayer might not work.

In other scenarios, the sprayer may be running, but no paint comes out.

There’s paint in the sprayer, so what’s the problem?

The spray/prime valve, like all the other valves on your sprayer, can get clogged up. If that’s so, you will have to contact the manufacturer.

The inlet valve could also be to blame. Both the outlet and inlet valve can be jammed. Old paint or other materials may have caused the jam. 

To rid of the valves of excess material, press the filter tab. Not working?

Try cleaning both valves.

It’s best to keep your paint sprayer on even ground. It’s not recommended to use it on jagged, hilly surfaces. Otherwise, the sprayer may not work sufficiently.

prime knob not working

10. Paint Texture Doesn’t Come out Smoothly

You were sure you bought quality paint. It’s smooth and glossy. Yet when you load it into your Wagner paint sprayer, the texture is grainy, or even lumpy.

What happened?

A few things could be wrong.

You could have bought a paint that doesn’t work well in the sprayer.

Some of the filters could also be changing the texture of the paint. If that’s the case, clean or change out the filter.

The surface you’re painting on should always be as smooth and flat as possible. If not, you may not be pleased with the results.

Before you start spraying, it’s best to clean your painting surface. This removes any traces dust or dirt, which should ensure a flat, smooth surface.

11. Paint Doesn’t Dry Uniformly

Although you sprayed evenly with your Wagner paint sprayer, the paint did not dry evenly.


This is typically due to issues with the air pressure.

Start with the air cap. If this is dirty, pressure may be negatively affected.

The air cap has fan holes throughout it. These holes allow the paint to move through the Wagner paint sprayer at the correct pressure. Once these holes get jammed up, the pressure diminishes.

This creates the issue you’ve noticed, where certain parts of the surface are uniform but others have too much or too little paint.

Check the fan holes. Remove any excess paint or other accumulated materials.

Lastly, check the nozzle and fluid needle. These should correspond to the weight of the paint or other material. Make sure these are properly set.

Paint Doesn't Dry Uniformly

12. Final Product Looks “Off”

You did everything right. At least, you thought you did.

Your spraying technique was up to par. The spraying surface was clean. Yet, when you look at your dried surface, it has an almost oily appearance.

At some point, something got tarnished with silicone, oil, or even wax.

Now it’s your job to find out what.

Sometimes your air supply isn’t the cleanest. By cleaning your filters or getting new ones, this should eliminate that issue.

The surface may be dirty. While we mentioned cleaning it before, you have to be thorough to remove all traces of oil or silicone. It’s possible you missed some.

The paint somehow may have mixed with these substances. Accidents happen. You may want to try new paint and see if you’re still getting these results.


Do you still need more help with your Wagner paint sprayer?

Contact the Tool Nerds. We’re your one-stop resource for all things sprayers.

Whether you want to learn more about your Wagner paint sprayer or delve into light-duty sprayers, turbine sprayers, or handheld sprayers, Tool Nerds has got you covered.

You can find reviews, pricing, and specs for many paint sprayers. Whether you want to troubleshoot your Wagner paint sprayer or you’re thinking of buying a replacement, read Tool Nerds first.